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Magic Circle - Departed Souls Award winner

Magic Circle
Departed Souls
by Chris Hawkins at 10 April 2019, 10:14 PM

This is the album that actually turned my entire mood around.  The band has such a purist-view from which they create that it is meant to clearly evoke BLACK SABBATH when the band had hit its stride in the mid 1970s.  They do it well!  It doesn’t hurt that singer Brendan Radigan has also been lending his monumental vocals to live shows with PAGAN ALTAR and other members of MAGIC CIRCLE are in bands like SUMERLANDS and DOOMRIDERS.  The sheer enjoyment taken in performing such monolithic Metal is conveyed through all they do.

Who knows, though?  When listening to mid-Ozzy-era BLACK SABBATH, like “Sabotage” and “Sabbath Bloody Sabbath,” it sounds like the classic lineup is having fun.  Well, certainly, they were, yet if that would need to be proven as authentic human warm and fuzzy cuddle-time, I don’t think it would hold water.  Assuredly, the true Bacchus behind the wall of sleep, left them snow-blind.  I digress.  The point behind this rant is that due to one thing or another, MAGIC CIRCLE is hitting this out of the park.  It is so respectful in its reverence and praise of BLACK SABBATH.

Obviously, it is the second track, “I’ve Found My Way to Die,” where the band really begin to take off.  Unmistakably, there was a prevailing “Spiral Architect” vibe throughout, though, with a back-beat that at times echoed the aggressive tendencies of the Boston Hardcore scene from which these guys emerged.  The following track, “Valley of the Lepers,” has an amazing groove like the last side of my personal favorite SABBATH album, “Sabotage”.  It is also very reminiscent of ALABAMA THUNDERPUSSY’s fourth album, “Staring at the Divine,” at certain moments.

This is truly one of those albums.  What I mean is I actually had to take a break from this project to let my friends know about this album.  When you’ve burned as many Metal nights away in the fire as I have, there is a bar for everything, I suppose.  It is so rare to hear the versatility commanded by which proper respect is given to URIAH HEEP, early QUEEN, and Brendan Radigan’s vocals can come across with a strong statement evocative of Paul Rogers’ early material with FREEMr. Radigan draws from many different sources of inspiration.  His innate appreciation and love for OZZY pervades throughout while rays of KYUSS shine through along with shades of more soulful/bluesy bands like CRY OF LOVE and even later C.O.C. stuff.  To have a guy that can vocally throw down with the best in the Doom scene if not Metal scene period, propels a band into the most elite of statuses in these days.

Gone Again,” the sixth track, has been haunting me.  It shows a total leap horizontally, vertically, and whatever physics-people would say comes next in bounds in statement and varied approach.  There is definitely a trippy groove going on with the synths at times and the vocals too that seem to point to both Ian Gillan and Glenn Hughes.  This band’s scope becomes more apparent as their groove develops upon one’s mental state.

What happens next is one of those times on an album when just a short instrumental can show the melodic, phraseologic, ethnographic, and spine-tingling esoteric perspective of each instrument.  I felt I’d crashed a mid 60s Porsche into Jimmy Page’s kitchen where he was dabbling in chemicals along with John Lennon, Phillip K. Dick, and Marc Bolan.  It has that vibe that just causes “Bird City Blues” to go from psychedelic BEATLES to witchy Peter Green-era FLEETWOOD MAC and opiatic-sizzling Jimmy Fucking Page.

While there are myriad critics out there at each other's throats over GRETA VAN FLEET, MAGIC CIRCLE stands solid in the underground giving proper respect while still mixing their own sweet, strange brew.  This is one of those albums to play when you can get a bunch of friends together.  It needs to be heard.  It inspires creativity, propels free thought, enhances mystery, and gently leads the listener down the quiet, quaint road to hell.  Watch it go.

Songwriting:   9
Originality:  8
Memorability:  10
Production:  9

4 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1. Departed Souls
2. I’ve Found My Way to Die
3. Valley of the Lepers
4. A Day Will Dawn Without Nightmares
5. Nightland
6. Gone Again
7. Bird City Blues
8. Hypnotized

Lineup:
Justin DeTore – Bass
Q. – Drums
Chris Corry – Guitars
Brendan Radigan – Vocals
Renato Montenegro – Guitars

Record Label: 20 Buck Spin
     


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