I’ve once said this before but I’ll do it again anyway, the Pacific Northwest scene for extreme metal has never felt so impressive in the time I’ve been living in the area being originally from the region between Washington state and Oregon. But during my musical journey to discover incredible bands coming from both states whether it’s the grunge, indie or traditional metal bands everyone sure has heard of by now, the scene has continuously to grow over the last 20 or so years and will remain as one of the most talked about areas in today’s modern day era. Today, I will be going over by a band who were actually my introduction to symphonic black metal known as Ceremonial Castings and the reissue of their 2008 album Salem 1692. Those unaware of Ceremonial Castings, they’re a symphonic black/death metal band from Battle Ground, Washington formed in 1996 founded by The Witcher also known as Jake Superchi which you may also best known him for his amazing contributions for the melodic black metal project UADA and alongside with him is his brother OldNick also known as Nick Superchi who also contributed his side project known as Mysticism Black.
Salem 1692 was originally released in 2008 under by the label Dark Forest Productions but with this reissue released through Eisenwald, this album is a conceptual record about the Witch Trails that was considered as one of the most mass hysteria events in the 17th century and onward. Musically, Salem 1692 (MMXX) created a huge leap and bound to incorporate many different structures including the first half where they borrowed influences from Emperor, Dark Fortress, Limbonic Art, Obtained Enslavement and the theatrical sound from Carach Angren with a Satanic, witchcraft, HP Lovecraftian style of symphonic black metal with death metal tendencies is absolutely top notch as I feel more people need to appreciate the songwriting, lyrical content, progressive undertones and philosophy these musicians created is nothing but art at its finest hour.
For a reissue of a album that’s roughly thirteen years old, the rerecording of this release not only is better terms of sound quality and hearing the instrumentals sounding sharp and precise than ever before, but this is one of the rare occasions where I prefer a mastered and updated album that’s modernized and structured to the root of its core. When you have songs such as Obsidian Spells of Hysteria, Beneath the Sabbath Moon, Damned Be Those of the Craft and The Devil in Salem there’s too many layered compositions, variable tempos and a lost touch of humanity with convicting emotions as each song represents a powerful, yet stricken violence to a world where everything’s sinister.
The beauty, nature and discipline for these talented musicians bring real understandings that’ll leave the listener baffled, desperate and confused.
Musically and lyrically, you’ll get standard blast beats, programmed synthesizers, genocidal guitar tones and intense, and massive vocal variations prior to past Ceremonial Castings albums and if this is the type of sound, production and compositions of these Washingtonians are capable of, then I’m on board entirely to see if any future material from this band can pull off such a atmospheric and darkened sound.
Salem 1692 (MMXX) may be a remastered recording of a album that’s years old but for someone who enjoyed their embodiment of work, this release is stronger, tighter, darker, more enhanced and just comes to show for a band who’s artistic talent portraying the darkest pieces of music in the scene right now really executed themselves to deliver the most successful, well crafted and captivating releases in the symphonic black and death metal world.
Overall Score: 10/10
Review by Jake Butler