Genre: Doom Metal
Label:20 Buck Spin
Magic Circle is a US West Coast band comprised by Brendan Radigan on vocals (Pagan Altar, Stone Dagger, Battle Ruins and many more), Chris Corry (Stone Dagger, Devil’s Dare, Lifeless Dark and many more) and Dan Ducas on guitars, Justin DeTore (Stone Dagger, Sumerlands, Devil’s Dare and many more) and Q in drums (Doomriders). In their 10-year long existence they have released only qualitative works, an incredible self-titled debut (2012) and this huge riff depository entitled “Journey Blind” in 2016. The debut album was heavier and more doom oriented and the second one an exposition of simple and effective guitar work based on the power of the riff. This third album does not deviate from that route, only takes their sound one step forward.
“Departed Souls” sounds unassumingly vintage and current at the same time for all the right reasons. The production is vibrant and alive, the guitar tone is juicy and heavy and the vocals emanate an elegant lyricism, while being powerful in its deliverance and using smart effects here and there. The rhythm section produces an effortless groove that runs through the whole album without indulging in excesses and helps maintaining a healthy balance among the instrumentation and the vocal lines that both shine through. From the title track opener, an early Pentagram like good old rocker, to the mesmerizing and cleansing “Hypnotized”, an ideal closer, the record flows and ebbs with a catchy proto metal attitude that has Black Sabbath –and especially Masters Of Reality and Vol. 4- written all over it. Not because the vocal tone is similar as in Sheavy, or because a certain 70’s image is appropriated as in Orchid, just to mention a few bands that could be considered as peers. Magic Circle are 5 dudes that look like themselves and sound like pure hard rocking heavy metal as it was unleashed in the world around ’70 – ’73 with some touches of Dio era Sabbath I would add. No trad revival trends, no doom extravaganza, just straight up riff driven pieces with a flawless innate boogie and an astonishing vocal performance.
The record contains six pounding songs that are 5-minute long or more and two more eerie compositions that serve as interludes and certainly help create an atmosphere and make that record a complete and colourful mood palette: “A Day Will Dawn Without Nightmares” that closes the first side and “Bird City Blues”, which is a necessary breath after “Nightland”, certainly the most intense song of the album with that magical multi-layered vocals in the middle followed by storming guitars and the gloriously dragging “Gone Again”, dressed with beautiful keyboards. The graveyard on the cover verifies the overall gloominess of the lyrics that seem to be a cry out for some sort of collective redemption for this helpless world.
Magic Circle have done it again, yet another masterpiece of the primal form of heavy metal, deeply rooted in Iommic rites and still relevant as ever in 2019. “Departed Souls” caught the essence of heavy metal with grace and effectiveness and its content is just so tasteful and inspired. Already one of the highlights of the year for me, a release that would be great to be matched with a full length Stone Dagger one.