Hey you! Turn off that stupid Pallbearer album and listen to something that should actually make year-end lists. Do you like Trouble, Dio Sabbath, Witchfinder General, Pentagram, and Cirith Ungol? Of course you do! Metalheads read this site and metalheads know all of those bands. How silly of me!
A lot of doom bands today are hellbent on worshipping their favorite couple of bands and not really finding their own style. Magic Circle takes all of those influences I listed above and actually does something with it, like creating their own sound and style.
I first heard this self-titled album in its unmastered form over a year and a half ago. The Goat sent me a link to the album and it managed to become my go-to hangover album. I was wondering when this thing was ever going to come out. What I did know is that if you ever need your non-shitty band hyped, you give a copy to The Goat and tell him not to give it to anybody. Three months later, you’ll have about 100 people in the Tri-State area wanting to know where they can buy your album that hasn’t even come out yet. I digress…
The album starts off with “White Light” which is a slow, melodic, traditional doom sound instead of bursting out of the gate in favor of a quick song to catch the listener’s ear. These doom purists put forth what they’re all about from the first note and weed out any potential falses.
“White Light” speeds up towards the end to give way to one of the faster songs on the album, “Rapture.” This song quickly invokes that Dio Sabbath feeling, which will continue to shine throughout the album.
The band has a good sense of dynamics and pace and choose to slow things back down with “The Greatest Escape — White Shores” Here we begin to value the power of Brendan Radigan’s vocal prowess. His voice is a hybrid of Ozzy/Johan Längquist/Thomas Eriksson (Griftegard) in the best way possible, singing every line with the utmost conviction, as if his words were a final plea to understand his message.
Up next is my favorite, “Scream Evil.” I can only hope the title came about as a nod to the masterful linguist, Ronnie James Dio. While the title might be reminiscent of our beloved, this song is Trouble all the way with Ozzy laying his vocals over it. Ripped straight from “The Tempter” is an uptempo section that is the highlight of the album for me. Infectious harmonies, swaying drums, start and stop air drumming moments, and some catchy vocal melodies to boot. Can’t beat it.
“Conquering Nocturnity” returns to the Mob Rules vibe heard on and off, most noticeably with the bass-wah before the verse starts. The band once again displays their great sense of pace with this more relaxing song after the neck-wrecker that was “Scream Evil.”
The closer, “Magic Circle — Cloven in Two,” is a perfect end to the album. We get even more Dio Sabbath-like riffing, an “open this fucking pit up” mosher, some Uriah Heep galloping, all leading up to the riffing apex that fades out, making it sound like the band is still jamming somewhere far off without you.
I love everything about this album. The production doesn’t sound a year past 1982 on a Schlitz and Old Crow budget with a raw sound, that can admittedly be off-putting at first. By the time the album is over, you’ll forget about modern productions and what year you’re in. This band has found their own style while paying homage to the greats, and all on their debut album. These are the guys to watch out for over the next couple years.
9.5/10 (10/10 if they included “Lighting Her Fire” on this.)
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