Sunday, 17 January 2016

MAGIC CIRCLE - Journey Blind

Quick note: This is an expanded version of the short review which appeared at #20 on the January 2016 Doom Chart. (Doom Charts on facebook)

When I was a toddling little scamp headbanging to Motörhead and Quiet Riot records in my uncle’s basement suite I truly felt that this was the way life was meant to be. That this was the way life was ALWAYS going to be and that clearly metal was the only musical option out there that made any kind of sense. Well, a Madonna, a New Kids, a Brittany and a pair of Justins later and I wonder what’s wrong with the world. The radio comes on and the sky darkens, birdsong turns ominous and hidden intentions grow behind every smile.

And then Magic Circle appears.

I don't think it's entirely accurate to slap the doom label on this band. There are elements of epic doom, but I also hear early power metal and an attacking style not commonly found in today's doom with it's sepulchral turpitude. The 'Journey Blind' is more uplifting than that. Don't get me wrong, I crave sepulchral turpitude, but Magic Circle is an exotic treasure within doom's dusty war chest.

In a way Magic Circle becomes a referendum on what doom is, because it seems that any band that doesn't feature wall to wall blastbeats gets slapped with the label. I suppose that doom is more than Iommian riffing at torpid tempos under tales of witches and infernal congress. In a way, doom is the most conservative subgenre of metal, arguably the most conservative genre of music of any kind. Doom it seems, is anything that sounds old and heavy. 'Journey Blind' is a jacked up long-lost metal album from the mid-80s, before the ghetto-ization of metal into subgenres, back when metal was metal and inked jeans and studded leather were kings among fabric. 'Journey Blind' parks you right square in stall 8 of the heavy metal parking lot.

No, Magic Circle doesn't sound like Priest, Motörhead or even Quiet Riot, but they tap into that never forgotten world of unapologetic metal-ness to leave you ‘bangin shamelessly and all seems right with the world again.

And when the ‘Journey Blind’ ends, the sky is still dark, the birdsong still mocks with portents of evil and a killer still hides behind every smile, BUT … when life hands me lemons I can then say, “oh yeah, fucking lemons huh? Give ’em here!” I then proceed to make deep, angry eye contact and suck at those lemons with such virulence that it becomes unbearably awkward for my life’s opponents and they back away slowly.

And that’s how to win with Magic Circle.

'Journey Blind' was released on DD/CD on November 20, 2015 and on vinyl January 15, 2016 by 20 Buck Spin Records

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