Band of the Day: Murder Castle

Murder Castle have just released their new album The Black Widow this past Friday. While you’re grabbing your copy (or listening to it!), find out a bit more about the band…

Simple things first – where are you guys from?

Bill Kaos: Originally the band started from Seymour, Connecticut, (USA). Currently we are an interstate band living In Virginia Beach, VA and New York, NY.

How did you meet?

Bill Kaos: This band/project has always had different members on every album of the 3 full lengths over the years since 2012 (I) Bill Kaos (Guitar/Vocals from Kaos Reign/Skumbagh/Paradox Black) have always been the only founding member that is on every album. This band was founded as a side project from our other main bands and always rounded out as a supergroup in a way that would fulfil the Doom/Groove Metal genre which steps outside our normal Metal realm of our main bands. It started with Bill and Simon T from (Vestal Claret, King of Salem, Owl Maker) who is on the first two albums as a drummer and then a bass player on our second album. Due to the long distance and factors in current life, Simon was not able to appear on the new album “The Black Widow” but I hope to bring him back down the road possibly for the next follow up on either drums again or maybe even a second guitar. Paul Loew (Also of Dyed In Grey & ex-Kaos Reign) our current bassist is a good friend and was on the first Kaos Reign album on bass back in 2014. Paul fit perfectly on bass and stepped up Murder Castle’s game on this new album. It was very easy during the recording process. We all independently recorded our own parts throughout tracking. (I) Bill K wrote the structures, lyrics and main gist’s of all these songs on “The Black Widow” and Paul came in and complemented with some great ideas and bass lines that I feel really stood out on these new songs. Our new drummer William Buckley currently resides here in Virginia and met me responding to an ad on Craigslist. He really rounded out the sound with his Bill Ward swaying style on drums. Recording has never been so easy as it was this time around. I handled all the mixing and mastering duties here in Virginia on my computer and we could not be more satisfied with the end result on The Black Widow.

How long have you been playing as a band?

Bill Kaos: We started in 2012 and debuted with the album “Heretics Fork”. The idea was to start a band with a concept theme of a serial killer story in the Doom/Groove Sabbath Metal genre which started with connection to the H.H Holmes true life story for lyrical content mixed with modern themes. After the first two albums we actually just began a new concept but kept the same serial killer idea theme as we feel it needed to grow and evolve into other stories each album. “The Black Widow” tells a story from a detective’s point of view about a woman serial killer who he falls in love with and later is forced to betray because of his profession. I will not get to detailed about it as I like the listener to interpret it out however they want, and metaphorically relate to it in some way to everyday life thinking, imagination and perceptions, etc. This is the only band out of 5 current ones for me with a concept, I write lyrics and the music a certain way different from the other bands of mine so to me Murder Castle is a very different unique Metal band then an average ordinary random Metal band who just writes about random topics and personal struggles or whatever it might be. That’s what makes this band different and special, I think. Also, to me it is like a writer who writes and pretends to be a horror specialist and sits in the chair of a madman and attempts to be the bad guy different then in his normal life. It is very cathartic to put yourself in the shoes of a serial killer as if you are the twisted psychotic maniac and not have to be a phoney every day average man with a 9-5 job worrying about paying the mortgage. Somewhere there is fiction vs truth in there and metaphors that only I can relate and understand but at the same time other people can relate to or connect with. I think this band or side project will be around for a long time. Our music is not over yet. I already got skeletons for another album written and the follow up concept in place.

Before you get sick of being asked… where does the band name come from?

Bill Kaos: The name comes from “The H.H Holmes true story”. This serial killer had a place he called home, where he tortured his victims daily and disposed remains of and more while committing crimes. The authorities in the press dubbed the name in the headlines of a newspaper “Murder Castle”. It is my all-time favourite band name of all names and I am very happy we have it copyrighted because finding a simple solid name these days is hard to do especially after so many great metal bands over the years have taken so many names.  I think it fits the theme and sound of the band I always imagined in a perfect fashion. The true Murder Castle had torture chambers, hostages in rooms, and very detailed torture devices within its schematic and structure. If you Google this story there is a map and blueprint of the real castle that existed. The whole H.H Holmes story is very involved and goes from a criminal con man to a savage woman hater, rapist, racist, dirtbag, murderer, pharmacist, sales guy, store owner, etc. I think it’s one of the best true-life stories of all time and I think relating to everyday metaphors with a story like this is a great concept to base a band around and sums up the Doomy Groove Metal sound of this band perfectly. Metal can be hard to stomach for some but so is horror when presented in a gruesome form. The name says it all and if you find this band name online, it brings up curiosity if you a horror fan or metal fan to check it out. Shit, if I was at a record store looking through cd’s and saw this name, I would give it a listen. Especially if it came up on my recommended list on Spotify or Youtube as an example. Pure marketing and good metal descriptions are not easy to come by.

What are your influences?

Bill Kaos: I think we all as band members have many different from each other. In connection with the band Murder Castle the influences would be bands such as Black Sabbath (Dio & Ozzy era), Trouble, Saint Vitus, Crowbar, Corrosion of Conformity, The Crown, The Sword, Witchfinder General, Down, Pantera, Kingdom of Sorrow, The Melvins, Nirvana (Bleach and Incesticide era albums), Paradise Lost, Pentagram, Judas Priest (Sad Wings of Destiny album), Candlemass, Type O Negative, Death, Bathory, Clutch, Iron Maiden and a lot of stoner doom metal bands that come around in the modern world these days as there is way too many to name.

We listen to almost every genre of Metal as a band but depending on the style we are going for and the originality of sound we created so it’s hard to pinpoint the exact influences that make it what it is. I think Murder Castle has its own original sound that blends some different genres of metal within it. We do not thrash out though for example and It is not extreme death metal. However, this new album almost has a progressive metal element to it that’s has evolved from bands such as Mastodon, Rush, Ihsahn, Opeth (heavier era), Barren Earth, Devin Townsend and many more. You Might hear a little of that in the riffs mixed with the doom and blues metal scale.

Paul Loew: I listen to a ton of different styles of music and I take influences from different areas depending on what I am playing. For Murder Castle, Geezer Butler is a huge influence obviously, Martin Mendez from Opeth, and on a few tracks tone wise I took influence from Steve DiGiorgio.

Describe your music. What makes you unique?

Bill Kaos: I say the music is very doom driven, with hammer-ons and blues scale riffs similar to Black Sabbath with a progressive drumming sway that carries the rhythms and is the soundtrack to your worst nightmare. We paint a picture musically of what the lyrics are saying and it’s the listeners job to visualize the madness. It is unique because the themes paint this picture in your mind of fear, horror, doom and you can taste the suffering in the screaming vocal tone to the narrative clean vocal tone that comes out sounding like a disturbed psychopath who is broadcasting the story as if he is living it in real time.

Do you have any particular lyrical themes?

Bill Kaos: Yes as we said earlier, we mix in serial killer concepts to everyday modern metaphors. Each album has its own story within the concept.

What’s your live show like? How many shows have you played?

Bill Kaos: As a band we were always mainly a recording project and a side project to our main bands that exist. However, that may adjust or change going forward. The new album is being very well perceived and we have not done a show since 2013 as a band. I been talking with Paul our bass player and he is open to doing shows in the future with Murder Castle. So, we are in motion to setting some things up very soon again. I think it be great to play some of the older tunes such as “The Thrill”, “Spurious”, “Rope Trick” or even “Stalker” or “ Then Stretching Experiment” from the first two albums as well as some new songs from the third one, The Black Widow, such as “Clarity” or “The Black Widow PT2” or even “Spitting Teeth”. I think in order to do so we need a live drummer as William Buckley was mainly our session recording drummer only and was never intending to do shows but who knows. Nothing is set in stone yet. There is that chance I may move back up to the Northeast soon and that would make this a lot easier going back to Connecticut and New York to rehearse and do shows in the Northeast. If so, I will reach out to some friends and drummers up there and get a fill in drummer for shows at the very least who could be a permanent replacement and go from there. Crap I could even ask someone who played drums for us in the past but I cannot guarantee that. Last show we played up in Connecticut, the fans in the audience were singing and screaming the lyrics to the title track song “Murder Castle” and “Chamber of Horror” and it was amazing to have such a great response. Sometimes you never know when you do shows with a band that is not your main one. I think Murder Castle has the possibility of turning into a main band if it wants to.

People like this band because it has catchy, good straight forward Extreme/Groove Doom Metal and the riffs grab you by the horns while carrying you through this narrated tortured story. We do not have blast beats, breakdowns or sweep picking mind twisting solos but the songs have this flow and structure to them that people remember and want to jam out to. We are 100 percent open to bring Murder Castle back to the live gigs because We believe it is wanted by the Metal world and the scene we originate from. Stay tuned about that because I think it is going to happen within the next 4 months or so. I am taking a break with Kaos Reign soon so I will have the free time to plan it all out.

What’s the wildest thing you’ve seen or done at a live show?

Bill Kaos: The wildest thing would be jumping into a mosh pit with my guitar and jamming with the fans in a circle to the rhythm of a chorus at a random gig in my mid 20s. When I was younger and I had long hair, it had received its handful of windmills.

I would head-bang fast, fierce spinning and bouncing around like a violent break dancer in a brawl and I fractured those bones and herniated discs in my lower neck at 1st that today would make me cringe If I could relive it. I even have videos of me doing it hundreds of times that are hard to watch because after I had fused 5 discs in neck and back with 3 spinal surgeries, it is never the same again. Despite me being a serious constant Metal musician, I currently have degenerative disc disease with discs fused, herniated, bulged or fractured and I live with intense chronic inflammation every day that average people could never comprehend or understand fully. The domino effect has begun.  For a young guy at 38 I live with radiculopathy, nerve damage and moderate to severe sciatica so my moshing days have come to an end 10 years ago. I am ok with that and accepted it a while back…I am lucky I can still hold my guitar and sing as that is what I like doing most. I play live shows every so often but I cannot bounce around on that stage like I did in my 20’s. Who really can anymore at my age? Yes, headbanging is fun but when you get older keep in mind those discs in your neck and back will slip out from that wear and tear and you cannot just replace them or fix them so easily. The weight from the strap on your guitar can push things off kilter. I think my laborious employment and wild actions as a metalhead have put me into a position I can only accept and tell others to be careful about. Look at Tom Araya in Slayer, those days are over for him too after his surgery. He as stiff as a stick. Same with Dave Mustaine in Megadeth.

The worst things that happened for me in a mosh pit over the years might be the most wild:  I have actually broken a nose, broken an arm and tore ligaments in my foot and leg from falling after a wall of death collision. Every day after show the next morning, I would get whiplash. Damn that sucked. It’s like a metal hangover in some ways. I hate to say it though, it is a caution and a warning that this shit is serious and people need to be careful. I do not regret the great times I had in the end though. Just the carelessness of how I did it.

I am almost 40 now so I do not do this moshing and headbanging anymore obviously as I am still feeling the wrath of those days on a daily painful basis. As a songwriter and a fan, I take in the music and do my mini shimmy and jig to myself as a reaction to the music. I am very light with what I do but safer and I even use lightweight guitars such as a Dean, Gibson Firebird, or Jackson which are featherweight great sounding guitars. As I have always said “there is no wrong way to eat a Reese’s”… I always tell the younger Metal fans… There is not a safe way to head-bang overall but if you going to, do it with straight posture and not like a windmill twisting and spinning. Keep your posture up and do it slow. Neck surgery is not worth that simple moment of a cathartic release. Be smart, not careless. You can head-bang but do it easily and as safe as you can. I am lucky I am still alive from the wild insane shit metal has had me do over the years at a live show.

Also the other most wildest thing was walking off stage when done going into the bathroom and yacking from being sick then on the way out the crowd chanting your name so you decide to come back out an do an encore and you nail it!!! Great feeling at least on that one. We’re not famous, but we felt it for 45 min.

Paul Loew: I’d say one of the coolest things for me was playing at a bar in NYC and watching a guy get so amped up as we were ending our set that he flipped a table that was full of beer bottles and just watching them crash all over the floor.

What kit do you use / guitars do you play / etc.?

Bill Kaos: I have a lot of equipment but for Murder Castle. I have a system of equipment that fits only this band for myself. I always tune guitars for this band to E Standard which is funny because Doom is usually tuned down lower. My other bands usually are D Standard tuning so this different for me. Also, for a guitar I use my Epiphone black SG as it has that Metal 70’s light Black Sabbath tone sound to it. I also use my Gibson Firebird on a couple songs too as that it is a go to for me with every band I am in. I record with a typical 57 instrument mic or synthesiser instrument mic and blend it with a DI such as Line 6 Amplify. My live amp though would have a 2008 Line 6 Bogner Amp or an Engl Metal master depending. Both are very Metal sounding and have good chugging clarity and the hammer-ons have depth. I love the tone Bogner had when they worked with Line 6.  It had a great combo sound that was affordable. High gain amp distortion at its finest. Too bad Bogner went on its own and doubled the cost. A lot of people think those amps were not good because 10 years ago Guitar Center had them everywhere but I perfected that tone over the years. I have not found an amp to come close in heavy distortion. For me it has to be a tube amp. As for vocal mics, I prefer the Shure 7B Broadcasting mic for recording. Top notch for heavy and screaming vocals. However, it’s a $450 mic. As for the most important equipment for me is my special guitar pick! I might be the only metal guitarist for all I know that plays a banjo thumb guitar pick upside down and backwards. I use extra heavy, or heavy Herco thumb picks, which I think might have been discontinued. I have nerve damage in my right hand from my neck’s spine. If I use a standard guitar pick, I lose grip on it and drop it after 2 minutes. Shit I sound insane. I had to relearn how to play guitar with a different way of picking the strings I discovered on my own that saved my guitar playing and I would say I have improved since before the nerve damage. I like using these thumb picks more than a regular one any day.

William Buckley: I prefer Tama or Pearl. I only use Zildjian cymbals and I love the sound of the expensive China’s. The less drums used to mess up the mics the better. I am a big fan of the double bass Tama HP900PWN Iron Cobra Power Glide – Dual Kick Drum Pedal.  I have 2 snare drums set up at one time which gives me 2 different tones, one being a piccolo and one not. I prefer a punchy EQ with some boom to my bass drum within the mix and no heel toe techniques, just straight foot which is better with good attack. I like my toms to be big in the mix of a recording also. My favourite drum sounds are the ones that you know were not layered or tampered with also. I want to hear some pop and punchy bang in the mix not that digital typewriter sound ever! I hit my drums hard for good attack which is easier for a recording engineer to mix. Usually I use a 6 to 7-piece kit during a recording or rehearsal. I am a collector of drums and have 6 drum kits separate from one another. I do not want to be an advertisement for gear too much so I am going to stop here and say, replace your heads often and keep that drum tuning the way you like during a recording as it makes a big difference in sound. I prefer EQ and compression done as little as possible when mixing and I like the drums to sound like 6 hands and 4 feet bashing all at once like a robot that transforms into a jackhammer. 

Paul Loew: My main rig live consists of a G&L L-2000 bass and a Sire P7 five string that I outfitted with Nordstrand Pickups. I play through a Bugera Veyron BV1001T with a 2×10” and 1×15” cab setup. For Murder Castle I have a small pedal rig that consists of Keeley Compressor, a Keeley Caverns reverb/delay, a Source Audio Aftershock distortion and an EHX Bass Soul Food Overdrive.

What, if anything, are you plugging/promoting at the moment?

Murder Castle discography on Bandcamp, consisting of three full albums. You can also get them on Spotify, CD Baby, iTunes, etc. Also Check out Murder Castle on You Tube! Subscribe to the “Bill Metal” YouTube channel to listen and watch music videos and more of all bands in connection with on playlists. Skumbagh Productions is the independent label created by Bill Kaos for every one of his independent bands and projects.

Besides Murder Castle, I am planning to release four other albums for other bands of mine. Skumbagh, my solo experimental Industrial Cyber Progressive Extreme Metal band is releasing its sixth release on April 6th, 2020. 65 Minutes of metal with synthesizers and other experimental keyboards. Influences for this band are bands such as Fear Factory, Strapping Young Lad, Ministry, Dark Tranquillity and Nailbomb.

Also, Paradox Black my rock/doom stoner metal band with clean vocals is in the process of recording and will have a full length later this year. My main live extreme metal band Kaos Reign is recording its follow up and fifth full length studio album this month. Expect a 2020 release later in the year.

Dyed in Grey is working on a new album currently which is expected to be released later this year.

What are your plans for 2020?

Bill Kaos: We plan to get Murder Castle back to a live playing band, make some more live YouTube videos and a couple more music videos off the new album The Black Widow. We want to get this music heard by as many Metal fans as possible because we believe the music we made is very good and we ourselves are fans of it as well.

If you were second on a three-band bill, which band would you love to be supporting and which band would you choose to open for you? A chance to plug someone you’ve toured with, or a mate’s band we’ve not heard of before!

Bill Kaos: I had an opportunity to do a small tour with Cavalera Conspiracy overseas, but due to logistics issues and management problems Kaos Reign had to back out.  If I had the option again, I would tour with Pantera when Dime and Vinny were alive and they would be the headliner. You would see us party it up on the next Pantera home videos. Every band wanted to be Pantera back in the day when they saw how they toured.  I would easily re-establish my drinking alcohol stamina, which at this age is not what it used to be.

The opening band would be Corrosion of Conformity, because with Murder Castle that would be the perfect doom/groove metal mix for a tour. If you added another opener it would be Crowbar and then you basically have the band Down at the same show without actually playing the show.

Murder Castle: facebook | bandcamp

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