Castrator – Defiled in Oblivion Review

It’s been a slow rollout for the sharp knives behind New York-based death metal act Castrator. The rare all-female death crew, they’ve been lurking since 2014, honing their cutting techniques. 2022 sees them finally drop a full-length platter of testicularly challenging material, and Defiled in Oblivion certainly demonstrates the chops you look for in a fledgling death upstart. Trafficking in the OSDM style of Cannibal Corpse and Morbid Angel, Castrator aren’t looking to rewrite the book of death or take things to strange new places. Instead, they’re content to play with establish sounds and put their own grisly mark on well-traveled styles. The band sound like seasoned veterans and show they know their way around a caustic riff and an ugly death motif, and they’re talented enough to hang with their scene contemporaries. But are they ready to seize the spotlight for themselves?

Not quite yet, but they’re on the right track. This is a fairly standard but entirely solid, enjoyable outing featuring the kind of material sure to appeal to those with roots in the 80s and/or 90s. They rock a gnarly, abrasive sound on opener “Dawa of Yousafzai” with one foot in Cannibal Corpse territory and the other splitting time between Morbid Angel and Deicide. It’s a gruesome display and it’s difficult to believe the putrid vocals are coming from a woman. The riffs are wild and gripping and the performances are impressive and beastly. I do however find it a bit distracting that the song contains the exact riff from Hallows Eve‘s classic “D.I.E.” and whenever that piece comes up, it throws my listening experience out of whack. The riff-work on cuts like “Tormented by Atrocities” and “Voices of Evirato” cleaves closely to the heyday of Trey Azagthoth, which is always a plus, and there’s a proper amount of brutal nastiness pulsing through the band’s delivery. Oddly enough, frontwoman Clarissa sometimes sounds a lot like David Vincent, further rounding out the Morbid charms. She also goes all Glen Benton at times too, as on “Befoul my Existence” and “Inquisition Sins.”

The album highlight in my book is the scathing blastery of “Sinister Mind” which feels like it fell off the back of the 90s Florida death scene’s truck. It’s like a chaotic mush pie of Morbid Angel and Deicide influences that works because of its hyper-manic lineage and vicious DNA. There are a few lesser additions, however, like “Purge the Rotten (One)” which is okay but feels more generic than its peers and runs about a minute and a half too long. “Tyrant’s Verdict” also feels fairly stale and unconvincing despite plenty of thrashing energy and tasty lead work. There’s also a cover of Venom‘s ancient chestnut “Countess Bathory” and it too feels a tad extra and unneeded. The production is quite solid for the style, with the guitars sounding murderous and in your face, but there’s space left open for R.M’s solid bass performance to be appreciated.

The biggest asset wielded by Castrator is the killer axe-work of Kimberly Orellana. She throws a mega-ton of face-melting riffs at you and leaves you to reconstitute your liquified face. Every song features skin-flaying leads and when it comes to solos, hold onto your socks because the lady can shred. Check out the dissonant yet almost neo-classical piece on “Befoul My Existence” and the wild fret excess in “Voices of Evirato” for proof. The aforementioned R.M. plays nicely with the guitar fireworks, laying out rolling, popping bass lines that enhance the overall package. Clarissa is a real find as a death vocalist, traveling between the Benton and Vincent poles while adding Corpsegrinder-esque barks and roars just to cover all the bases. If I heard this album sans context, there’s no way I would have known it was a woman on the mic. Talent abounds here.

Defiled in Oblivion is a promising, entertaining debut by a band worth watching. The talent is clear and the performances are gonzo. With a bit more seasoning time in the writing department, Castrator could become as threatening as their moniker implies. I’ll be watching from a safe distance awaiting further developments.


Rating: 3.0/5.0
DR: 6 | Format Reviewed: 192 kbps mp3
Label: Dark Descent
Websites: castrator.bandcamp.com | facebook.com/castratorband
Releases Worldwide: July 22nd, 2022

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