Magic Circle – Journey Blind

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Though it was released it little fanfare, Magic Circle’s self-titled debut was an unheralded highlight of 2013. A combination of classic Sabbath-infused doom a la Trouble or Pentagram unafraid to inject the energy and melody of your favourite heavy metal bands, it was satisfying in all the right ways. The Boston quartet’s sophomore album, Journey Blind (20 Buck Spin) has received significantly more press, and ups the ante.

Where almost every song on the debut was built around a long, slow build-and-release dynamic, Journey Blind shows far more variety in the song-writing without compromising quality. It’s still boasts that raw 80s-souding production, and the likes of the title track and ‘Ghosts of the Southern Front’ still lumber on before kicking things up with blazing NWOBHM riffs, but the album also boasts some shorter, high tempos numbers.

The likes of ‘The Damned Man’ and ‘Lightning Cage’ – both of which are blessed with annoyingly addictive lines that make it hard not to squeal along – act as perfect foils to the longer, more intricate numbers. The epic seven minutes of ‘A Ballad for the Vultures’ is probably the best song the band has recorded yet, boasting a host of riffs that bring to mind Dio-era Sabbath and Iron Maiden gallops, a flurry of reverberating solos, while the vocals are out of this world.

Vocalist Brendan Radigan, for a long time found snarling exclusively for punk outfits such as the Rival Mob, has in recent years shown he’s more than capable of sounding like an air raid siren fronting a NWOBHM band: like a cross between Ozzy Osbourne and Eric Wagner, he wails his way through the album but never ends up in a comedic “someone stood on my balls” scream that so many retro-revivalist bands seem fond of.

As with their debut, Magic Circle have shown off a rare skill; making an album that could easily be mistaken for a lost classic from the 80s, yet doesn’t feel outdated or like a rehash. It’s everything you want from an album; energetic, addictive, fun, epic, and incredibly satisfying: A combination of timeless song writing and faultless quality makes Journey Blind one of the best records of the year. Go and buy it. Treat yourself for Christmas. Buy your gran one too.

9.0/10

DAN SWINHOE

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The Skull To Perform At South By Southwest

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The Skull, featuring former Trouble vocalist Eric Wagner and bassist Ron Holzner, guitarists Lothar Keller and Matt Goldsborough (ex-Pentagram), and new drummer Sean Saley, will be taking part of the 2015 SXSWMusic Festival, set for March 17-22, 2015 in Austin, TX. They will supporting Those Which Are Asleep, which can be streamed here.

the skull tour 2015

THE SKULL tour dates:

Mar 17: The Demo – St. Louis, MO
Mar 18: Downtown Lounge – Tulsa, OK
Mar 19: The Rail – Fort Worth, TX
Mar 20: Dirty Dog – Austin, TX (SXSW w/ Weedeater)
Mar 21: The Lost Well – Austin, TX (SXSW “Heavy Metal Parking Lot II w/ King Parrot, FOGG + more)
Mar 21: Gypsy Lounge – Austin, TX (SXSW Thrasher “Death Match” w/ OM, Goatsnake, The Shrine + more)
Mar 22: The Music Room – Oklahoma City, OK
Mar 23: Riot Room – Kansas City, MO
Apr 17: Rickshaw Theater – Vancouver, BC (As part of Nothing is Heavy Fest (w/ Sacrifice and Ancients)
Jun 26: Cafe 611 – Frederick, MD (As part of Maryland Doom Fest (w/ Spirit Caravan, Apostle of Solitude)

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The Skull Posts Tour Set List From Pittsburgh Show

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The Skull has released their debut album For Those Which Are Asleep on November 4, 2014 via Tee Pee Records, and kicked off a US Tour on Thursday, December 11, 2014 in Pittsburgh, PA. The band features former Trouble vocalist Eric Wagner, drummer Jeff “Oly” Olson and bassist Ron Holzner, as well as former Sacred Dawn guitarist Lothar Keller and former Pentagram guitarist Matt Goldsborough.

Stream THE SKULL’s For Those Which Are Asleep here.

the skull for those which are asleep

01.) Trapped Inside My Mind
02.) Till the Sun Turns Black
03.) Sometime Yesterday Mourning
04.) Plastic Green Head (from Trouble’s 1995 LP Plastic Green Head)
05.) Pray for the Dead (from Trouble’s 1985 LP The Skull)
06.) Thinking of the Past (from Trouble’s 1987 LP Run to the Light)
07.) The Last Judgment
08.) The Touch of Reality
09.) Send Judas Down
10.) Sick of It All
11.) The Wolf (from Trouble’s 1990 LP Trouble)
12.) At the End of My Daze (from Trouble)
13.) Psychotic Reaction (from Trouble)

THE SKULL tour dates:

Dec 12: Metro Gallery – Baltimore, MD
Dec 13: The Foundry – Lakewood, OH
Dec 14: Rockstar Pro Arena – Dayton, OH
Dec 15: 5th Quarter Lounge – Indianapolis, IN
Dec 17: Fubar – St. Louis MO
Dec 18: Brauer House – Lombard, IL
Dec 19: Reggie’s Rock Club – Chicago, IL
Dec 20: Metal Grill – Cudahy, WI

For Those Which Are Asleep track listing:

01.) Trapped Inside My Mind
02.) The Touch of Reality (listen)
03.) Sick of It All (listen)
04.) The Door
05.) Send Judas Down
06.) A New Generation
07.) Till the Sun Turns Black (listen)
08.) For Those Which Are Asleep
09.) Sometime Yesterday Mourning
10.) The Last Judgment

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Trouble – The Distortion Field

Trouble - The Distortion FieldTrouble’s first album with vocalist Kyle Thomas (ex-Exhorder) and eighth overall in a career that has seen their influence and critical acclaim outstrip their commercial success, The Distortion Field (FRW) not only restores faith after the less than stellar Simple Mind Condition but serves to remind of the quality this oft overlooked forefather of stoner and doom metal has to offer. Continue reading