vinyl pressing on the Armageddon Shop label.

The Merriam Webster dictionary defines depression as ” a state of feeling sad” and “a psychoneurotic or psychotic disorder marked especially by sadness, inactivity, difficulty in thinking and concentration, . . . feelings of dejection and hopelessness, and sometimes suicidal tendencies.” Merriam-Webster neglects to mention that depression sometimes manifests as anger. It might be the anger of suffering, anger at problems perceived as insurmountable, or simply sadness compressed to rage.

Magic Circle’s lyrics communicate depression via loneliness, betrayal, death, and suffering, but Brendan Radigan’s as likely to lash out as lament when he sings them. His voice cuts across Magic Circle and it, not the music, sets the album’s tone. Even during the album’s slowest and quietest moments, Radigan is there, howling, but never lacking for melody. Doom metal’s not supposed to be cathartic like this.

His take on doom, effective as it is, becomes less surprising considering that he usually sounds like this or, this. The rest of the band’s performance is equally surprising. Magic Circle is effectively a hardcore supergroup taking a shot at doom metal and succeeding better than they have any right to.

The music draws from all of doom’s subgenres as needs be. “Winter Light” thumps along at a plod until 2:20, when it accelerates from almost funeral doom to Argus-y power doom. “The Greatest Escape/White Shores” also takes its time to get moving, Radigan and riffs synched up in melancholy, and then he goes on the attack while the band locks in and churns through the rest of the song. It would take a powerful set of riffs and songs to keep Radigan from stealing the show, and Magic Circle pull it off.

— by Richard Street-Jammer