Finally, some honest music. MAGIC CIRCLE have been a kind of cult name in doom metal circles the last few years and have shown a talent for epic metal in the CANDLEMASS vein. Their previous effort Journey Blind was a really strong release that definitely aimed for that mark. On Departed Souls, they are going for a more earthy vibe, injecting some blues and classic rock elements into the heaviness. Think of PENTAGRAM and early BLACK SABBATH more than CANDLEMASS this time around.
Most importantly, this has a real pure analog sound to it. Praise be to the metal gods for drums that sound like drums and not something out of a laptop! This is one of those rare albums without artifice, that sounds natural and organically grown. The best songs are the opening title track and ‘I’ve Found My Way To Die’. These songs have a driving energy to them even though the doom overtones are there. They rock! And the vocals are very passionately delivered,..maybe not as technically perfect as a Dio or a Tony Martin, but very strident and very real sounding. It puts a touch of passion into every tune.
Things do slow down and become a bit more epic for ‘Valley Of The Lepers’, but MAGIC CIRCLE show a willingness to experiment and leave typical metal with ‘A Day Will Dawn Without Nightmares’ This sounds like early 70’s dark prog, with a tribal drumbeat and chanting vocals. It’s also a little like the “Weird SABBATH” we heard on those early OZZY albums. here’s more experimentation with blues and even banjo on ‘Bird City Blues’…something that would have been unthinkable on Journey Blind. ‘Gone Again’ has synth and vibraphone popping up as well, but ‘Nightland’ and ‘Hypnotized’ are more raw doom in PENTAGRAM fashion.
I think I like Journey Blind just a bit more than this, but believe me, it’s totally refreshing to hear some down to earth heavy rock like this in a field of bad cliches and going through the motions.
Review By: Dr. Abner Mality
20 Buck Spin
4 / 6