2019 is still young, but there’s a few things you can say about music releases so far this year. There have been very few big releases so far, but there are a few trends you can see. Traditional sounding metal bands are making some big waves this year with huge releases. It’s wonderfully nostalgic to discover records that sound a lot like things that probably got all of us into metal. Boston’s Magic Circle has been pumping out early Black Sabbath-style doom metal since 2011 and have released a landmark record for the band this year with Departed Souls.
While many bands are looking for the most modern heavy doom sound, few bands do the history worship of Magic Circle. Everything about their sound is a great throwback. The guitars have the rough edge of early 70s distorted sounds, and the vocals have the shouted singing qualities of Robert Plant or Ozzy Osbourne and the original heavy metal sound. It would be unsurprising to find out that they even use vintage equipment to record their records. And while it may sound like it’s a bit too much hero worship for your tastes, know that this is all a unique take on that sound. It’s more original than may be described with a pithy paragraph here.
At the same time, this does sound like a particularly modern record. There are a lot of techniques employed by the band that wouldn’t fit in on a Led Zeppelin tour. Some of it has to do with production techniques, some of it has to do with how the band plays. You might expect more twin guitar soloing or more soaring vocals, but they leave you guessing a bit. And there’s a clarity to each of these tracks that you wouldn’t have on a classic heavy metal record.
Another greater point to make about Departed Souls and Magic Circle generally is accessibility. Metal is a genre that finds itself filled with fans who are looking for the most out there thing they possibly can. Part of that reason is for the novelty of finding something that doesn’t sound like anything else just for the experience. But there are those who try to distance themselves from their peers intentionally whether they like the music or not. Magic Circle eschews that in favor of making music they love that a lot of other folks do, too. If you’re reading this blog, you were probably exposed to this side of the musical spectrum through bands like Zeppelin or Sabbath or something else heavy from the 70s. While you continued following the path of darker and heavier tones, a lot of other folks didn’t. However, Magic Circle could be right up their alley and a great gateway into lesser known music.
If you’ve got a friend that’s always questioning your music choices, show them “Nightland”. They’ll be genuinely confused by your choice (if they know you well enough) but also can’t deny the track. The main riff is very upbeat in a way that just continues to reinforce the 70s sound they have. The track is accentuated by splashing cymbals on the up beat, giving the track an aggressively jaunty feel. It’s really just a ton of fun in a way that any fan of music and student of music history would enjoy.
I listen to this record and I can’t think of anyone not enjoying it. It’s a strange kind of nostalgia that doesn’t necessarily affect most of the people listening to it. This is a throwback sound we’re all familiar with but done in a new way that almost seems completely unique and original. It’s a fun record created by talented musicians and experienced songwriters. What more could you want? Get on it!
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Departed Souls drops March 29th via 20 Buck Spin, and is available for pre-order on the band’s Bandcamp page.