It’s been well documented in various sources, including this esteemed website, that every genre in the metal world has experienced a glut of bands all reaching for the proverbial golden ring that usually winds up leaving that particular scene a watered down mess. Thrash, death metal, black metal, you name it, they’ve all had their second or third waves of bands that simply didn’t live up to the lofty expectations set by those who came before them. Today the biggest offender has to be the whole doom metal/occult rock/traditional metal movement. As more and more bands try to squeeze into mom and dad’s (or grandma and grandpa’s) old bell bottoms and try to write “Sabbath” riffs or pretend they are the second coming of Deep Purple, it’s left the rest of us to sift through the rubble to try and find any life left. But for all the bands going through the motions or rehashing the same tired cliches, you are still able to find some gems buried deep in the mire. One such gem is Boston’s Magic Circle.
To say Magic Circle are a throwback to simpler times might be a massive understatement. Hell, even the artwork for newest album, Journey Blind, is a lost piece that dates all the way back to 1979. But what separates this band from the myriad of pretenders out there is that this band actually writes catchy, memorable music that sticks with you long after the needle has been removed from the table. Whether it’s the Trouble-inspired early doom of tracks like “The Damned Man” and “A Ballad For The Vultures” or the NWOBHM styled, romping tracks such as “Lightning Cage” or the album opening, title track, Magic Circle haven’t just done their homework on the history of metal. They’ve gone and taken some of the best of what worked 30+ years ago and truly made it their own in ways that hundreds of other bands simply wish they could.
This album honestly contains all the pieces to a very large and very beautiful puzzle, assembled bit by bit with the utmost care and precision. The riffs are ear worms in action burrowing into your psyche one track at a time. The vocals are soaring and powerful, easily one of the highlights here. They inadvertently carry a hidden message to any band that attempts this brand of clean singing – do it right and it completes your album in more ways than one, blow it and we’ll see you in the $2 used section at the local indie record shop. Meanwhile the rhythm section bares the heaviness of it all like the elephants that carried Hannibal’s army. They keep it all moving towards the battle with little fanfare but all the respect due to them.
Journey Blind may not be the heaviest album to appear in your collection this year, and that’s fine. What Magic Circle lack in evil-laced ferocity or sadistic musical tendencies they make up for is pure, honest, ass-kicking heavy metal the way the great masters of the genre played it oh so many years before. This is an album worth owning for anyone who just wants to rock the hell out and pretend like no one is watching. Journey Blind is due out on November 20 via the mighty 20 Buck Spin imprint. You can experience and purchase the album at the 20 Buck Spin Bandcamp page.