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Hippie Death Cult – Circle Of Days Award winner

Hippie Death Cult
Circle Of Days
by Kenn Staub at 10 June 2021, 1:41 PM

HIPPIE DEATH CULT draw their influences from among such groups as BLACK SABBATH, THE ALICE COOPER BAND, BLIZZARD OF OZZ, MEGADETH, and SOUNDGARDEN. On their second album, “Circle Of Days” (released May 21, 2021), the Portland, OR (USA)-based quartet meld these influences with ideas of the their own to offer up a pensive reflection of frustration and hope, experienced as they evolve from the confinements of self-indulgence into a more altruistic mindset.

The album’s first track, “Red Meat Tricks,” has a SABBATH-like feel as it methodically unfolds in a gloomily melodic manner. Bassist Laura Phillips and drummer Ryan Moore lay down a steady, dense line; Moore also adding percussive elements that serve to accent the core tonality. Eddie Brnabic’s rhythm guitar work is grungy and his solos artistically self-contained.

Hornet Party’s” tempo is back and forth, effectively alternating between meticulously dark and more brightly thrashy. Brnabic demonstrates he can play at speed while also incorporating psychedelic elements as needed, such as during his spiraling solo that closes out the track. Once again, Moore’s percussion use serves to provide subtle highlights throughout the number.

Slower and more dramatically somber than the previous tracks, “Walk Within” imparts a sense of uneasiness. Ben Jackson’s keyboards underscore the basic melody and also, at times, come to the fore. In truth, though the keyboards jumped out at me as I listened, every instrument complements every other instrument and the vocal harmonies mesh in a natural, unforced way. Brnabic’s solo, which melds with and reinforces the track’s overall tonality, would also be right at home on almost any, more traditional, power ballad.

The penultimate track, the eponymous “Circle Of Days,” harkens back to “Red Meat Tricks,” albeit not as pensive and foreboding. HIPPIE DEATH CULT is in no hurry here, nor should they be, and the song is given almost 10 minutes to develop and then come down. Drums and bass team together to establish a very nice groove, which the guitar reinforces to ultimately create something with a little attitude. The guitar solo is soaring with psychedelic inflections.

Listening to the final track, “Eye In The Sky,” I couldn’t help but think the number was perfectly placed on the album. I came, over the song’s nine-plus minutes, to regard it like a showstopper. The sound of the storm introducing the track is an apt metaphor, as, like a storm, the song gradually builds before unleashing itself in the form of a fuzzy, guitar-driven self-sustaining groove which then transitions to a more placid outro.

From the moment I heard the ominously, sludgy bass intro of the album opener, HIPPIE DEATH CULT had me hooked. Various genres are sampled throughout, including stoner, sludge, blues, and retro psychedelia, all of which are not only well played but keep the 39 minutes of “Circle Of Days” auditorally interesting. Further, the songs, cohesively and coherently performed, are never rushed; given time to fully develop into mini aural epics. This I believe is a credit to each band member, knowing what they contribute and how best to complement the others.

There’s nothing really more I can write about “Circle of Days,” other than that, to me, the album is damn near perfect. “Circle Of Days” will definitely be added to my current album rotation and I wholeheartedly recommend that the reader, at the very least, give it a listen.

Musicianship: 9
Songwriting: 9
Memorability: 9
Production: 9

4 Star Rating

1. Read Meat Tricks
2. Hornet Party
3. Walk Within
4. Circle Of Days
5. Eye In The Sky
Ben Jackson – Vocals, Keyboards
Eddie Brnabic – Guitars
Laura Phillips – Bass
Ryan Moore – Drums
Record Label: Heavy Psych Sounds


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