Castle Credit: Courtesy Earsplit Public Relations

I’ve always loved these heavy riffers. What began as the duo of Mat Davis and Elizabeth Blackwell has expanded to include drummer Al McCartney, and as a trio Castle continue to possess an eerie and uncanny ability to tap into the late-60s/early-70s occult-rock vibe made famous by Black Sabbath—but also represented by Pentagram and the likes of Coven and Black Widow (whose “Come to the Sabbat” remains a goosebump-raising earworm). As far as contemporaries go, maybe only the original Witch Mountain comes close in the same way. Castle’s fourth full-length, last summer’s Welcome to the Graveyard (Van), doesn’t disappoint. The tonal potion is brewed to perfection: the big, warm, thick-riffing sound easily fluctuates from stoner lope to classic-metal gallop. And there’s loving attention devoted to Elizabeth Blackwell’s witchy vocals as she gives the eerie neo-folkish “Natural Parallel” an otherworldly elegance and nails down “Hammer and the Cross,” which sounds like something Dio-era Sabbath might have written.   v