Band: Magic Circle
Album: Journey Blind
Label: 20 Buck Spin
Magic Circle are a relatively new doom metal band from Massachusetts and Journey Blind is their second full-length album. I not familiar with heard their debut, so I can’t provide any context or comparison there, but fortunately in this case, I hardly think it’s necessary. I say this because this release is easily one of the best doom metal albums I’ve heard this year and if there is any “sophomore slump” going on here, I would be quite surprised. Hearing this album is enough to make me want to pick up their debut already.
The album opens like any good doom metal record: with a slow guitar riff composed of single notes. Both of the debut records from Black Sabbath and Trouble also began this way, and if you happen to like either of those bands then you’re in luck because these fellows have a sound that is strongly influenced by them. I don’t want to paint them as being excessively derivative even though it’s perfectly clear who their masters are. They are different enough to have their own voice and build on their forefathers without being mere copycats. The vocals in particular have the cleaner timbre of the early Sabbath records, but they are closer to the pitch range found on the first Trouble record. In other words, they work unbelievably well for traditional doom.
The sound and production on this album is nothing short of stellar. The guitars are incredibly fuzzy and full at the same time, and the monstrous sound just washes over you track after track. The rhythm section is perfectly mixed in there too, so what you end up with this incredible vibe that can best be described as a turbocharged steam roller. I say turbocharged because on some songs, they do play faster tempos than are normally played in doom metal. But even as fast as they may get in some places, it’s that crushing, doomy sound that stays constant throughout.
One interesting thing I noticed on a couple tracks was the incorporation of some bluesier riffs, which definitely hearken back to those early Sabbath albums. You can hear this most strongly on “Ghosts of the Southern Front” but you hear hints of it elsewhere as well. Those sections where you hear it strongly are some of the most infectious portions of the album, so they’re hard to miss.
When it comes to highlights, I could pick a couple and “Ghosts of the Southern Front” would definitely be one but really there are no bad songs on here. The entire album is a very consistent and cohesive musical statement, but even still it manages to have plenty of variety both amongst the songs as well as within songs to hold your interest throughout. If you like that eighties doom sound, you simply don’t want to pass this one up.
Check ’em out here: http://listen.20buckspin.com/album/journey-blind-2