Published Mar 27, 2019Back in 2015, one of the brightest fires of old-school heavy metal resurrection was undoubtedly Magic Circle, with their solid full-length, Journey Blind. Four years on, the Massachusetts five-piece return with an even more doom-infused evocation of trad metal worship with Departed Souls.
Wearing their influences on their sleeve, Magic Circle call on the hallowed sounds of such titans as Rainbow, Sabbath and Saint Vitus, but dodge the hazards of coming off as derivative and boring, exacting something that is tributary to what has come before without losing their own identity.
Opening with the title track, Magic Circle immediately clue in newcomers as to what their in for, while assuring fans of their past discography that they haven't lost their edge. Mid-tempo grooves and gloriously executed riffs permeate throughout, playing with moods ominous and macabre, joyous and sentimental. Vocalist Brendan Radigan's voice wails at a halfway point between Dio and Ozzy over it all.
But Magic Circle stretch their songwriting muscles on this newest enterprise, dabbling in sounds more akin to classic rock in "A Day Will Dawn Without Nightmares," a calmer flow of gentle acoustic strings coloured by psychedelic bongos and keyboards to create an atmosphere of calm and wonder before rolling into the instant momentum of "Nightland," which seems tailor-made for road trip playlists, with its vigour and gallop.
Perhaps the strongest point comes in the latter half, with "Gone Again," which seems to embody an inner turmoil of longing and regret through an interplay of lumbering doom tempo and soulful organ keys. Radigan emotes the feelings of a man abandoned and left to wander in an eternal search. In this way, Magic Circle succeed in both their worship of the old school, without losing the feeling that made those templates great to begin with. (20 Buck Spin)