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Mercury Circle – Killing Moons

Mercury Circle
Killing Moons
by Gary Hernandez at 11 December 2021, 6:06 PM

I listen to a lot of extreme underground metal. This means a lot of lo-fi distortion pumps through my headphones. Not saying that’s a bad thing, but when a super well produced, exceptionally layered recording comes my way, it gets my attention. MERCURY CIRCLE’s debut full-length album, “Killing Moons,” released on October 8, 2021 via Noble Demon, had my full attention. The question is, how well did they keep it?

MERCURY CIRCLE formed in 2018 and includes members with lineages such as SWALLOW THE SUN, CHILDREN OF BODEM, and others. Their formation is described with lofty terms like “brainchild” and their 2020 EP with accolades like “critically acclaimed.” These are largely deserved. Clearly the band didn’t come together on whim, and their EP, “The Dawn of Vitriol,” is fairly intriguing. I should say here that neither the band’s EP nor the album, “Killing Moons,” fall within the wide spectrum of Metal, but what they lack in viscera, they may make up in artistry.

I’ll begin in a place I don’t usually start: The cover art. The cover for “Killing Moons” and the singles for “The Gates Wide Open,” “Black Mirrors,” and “You are Open to the Earth” all include muted grayscale figures centered in a hazy red circle. The art for the album is by Kalle Pyyhtinen (Utudesign), and I’m guessing the same credit goes for the singles. The subtlety, the starkness, the simplicity of these images borders on profound and provide a halo effect to all they envelope. They invite the listener to gaze into them and just ponder as the music draws them into and through what the band describes as an “all-absorbing trip into yet unimaginable spheres.”

Thematically, the songs are emotive and deeply introspective, touching on dynamics that are perhaps only readily observable by those overly attentive to matters that intersect both heart and mind. Think Goth meets Goethe and then they wrote a really long poem or a novella and then set it to dark, brooding music. Musically, as noted, it’s all Goth and Prog and Post-metal. And while it certainly is well written, well performed, and well mixed and mastered, it does take a lot of caffeine to get through. I probably lost my patience around track eight which is about three-quarters of the way through the 63-minute album.

MERCURY CIRCLE is at their best when they get explorative with tracks like “The Gates Wide Open,” “Black Mirrors,” and “Seven Archangels” featuring gorgeously harmonized vocals and backing vocals set at angles that haunt more than soothe. MERCURY CIRCLE is at their worst with tracks like “An Arrow,” “Like Matches,” and “Death Poem” which remind me of a dark, musing versions of songs from 80’s Post-punk bands. Even adding Cammie Gilbert (OCEANS OF SLUMBER) for a duet can’t spare “Like Matches” from sounding like a made-for-radio grab. The only standout track for me was “Seven Archangels.” When the next track “Call on the Dark” fails to live up to the promise “Seven Archangels” makes and which the first four tracks hint at, I gave up hope. The last four tracks served only to bury me further.

I’m sorry to say “Killing Moons” didn’t do it for me—at least, apart from the artwork and one track. I recognize the musicianship that went into the album, I acknowledge the band members’ musical pedigrees, and I appreciate the great studio engineering . . . but the music bored me. I’m sure many others will love this album and I certainly encourage a listen, but clearly not my jam.

Songwriting: 5
Musicianship:  7
Memorability: 5
Production: 8

3 Star Rating

1. The Gates Wide Open
2. Black Mirrors
3. You Open Up the Earth
4. Killing Moons
5. Seven Archangels
6. Call on the Dark
7. Avalanche
8. An Arrow
9. Like Matches
10. Death Poem
Jaani Peuhu – Vocals, guitars, synths
Jussi Hämäläinen – Guitars, synths, backing vocals
Juppe Sutela – Guitars
Ande Kiiski – Bass
Jaska Raatikainen – Drums
Record Label: Noble Demon


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Edited 09 June 2023

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