Hippie Death Cult – Circle Of Days
Heavy Psych Sounds
Release Date: 21/05/2021
Running Time: 37:15
Review by Dark Juan
Hello, dear children of the night, who, like me, are probably vastly overheated and cranky, as summer stubbornly persists over northern England, and doesn’t appear to be going away after a couple of days like it normally does, to be replaced by the iron grey skies and stair rods of driving rain that we are used to, and at the moment would frankly welcome. I have a tan! I haven’t had a fucking tan since 1996 and now my beautiful alabaster skin has a definite brown tinge to it and my goff credentials are utterly ruined forever. No more can I mock goths in hot weather, knowing that secretly I am one (for the record I am currently seated in the lounge at Dark Juan Terrace, clad in black Vans, black denim cut off shorts and black St. Pauli totenkopf t-shirt) of the pale revenants of the night. Instead, I have a “healthy glow” and I want no part of it!
I am instead consoling myself with gallons of iced cider and the latest offering to the altar of Ever-Metal.com from the excellently named Hippie Death Cult of Portland, Oregon. That is in the United States of America, if your geography is as poor as some of the young gentlemen in my charge at my other job. One of them pointed at India the other day and was absolutely convinced it was France and wouldn’t be told otherwise until I showed him the Channel fucking Tunnel and that it came out at Calais and not fucking Chennai.
In other news, briefly, Field Marshal and our Great Leader Rick “Don’t Try Sucking Up To Me, It Won’t Get You Anywhere, You Shocking Tart” Tilley fielded some enquiries about just what it is Mrs. Dark Juan creates while I write this nonsense. I sent him a picture of her latest creation and now he is traumatized (completely and utterly – Rick). However, Anabelle from Cradle Of Filth seems quite taken by it so as far as I’m concerned, it’s all gravy. Mrs. Dark Juan is now currently making fingers(!) while listening to some form of baroque ghost story. Her psyche is absolutely shot to fuck with a constant diet of horror films, M.R. James stories and the darkest imagination for creations I have ever known…
Oh yeah, music review…
Hippie Death Cult – Oregonian, as I believe I have already said. I’m sorry. I’m a bit hungover after the wicked strength lager I drank last night. HDC are really a quite interesting band who have taken the sounds and expansiveness of progressive music and melded them to a combination of the grittiness of classic rock sensibilities and the fuzz overdrive of doom and stoner. The result is rather extraordinary, being fuzzy and slow enough to please the doomsters, yet offering some absolutely incredible riffing and pounding heavy metal to entertain the mainstream crowd, and also having a lovely touch of exploratory madness to lift the music from the mundane or the repetitive. In short, It’s fair to say it’s fucking brilliant and I am a massive fan after this, their sophomore effort.
The sound is extremely cohesive, the mix solid and the production clear and legible, even if the snare drum is lacking some punch. The bass is clearly and cleanly heard and the guitar snarls and roars with a real classic rock sound. As an experiment, I bought some proper old 70’s cans from my mate Tony and played this record back-to-back through them, to compare them to the headphones I normally use. Hippie Death Cult sound absolutely fucking huge through the older phones and merely competent (production wise, this is) through the newer ones. Therefore, I am junking the newer ones immediately.
The opening song on the record is called ‘Red Meat Tricks’ and sets a tone that just begs you to listen more, melding classic rock vibes with progressive elements and some glorious coruscating riffs and solos including a scale in the middle eight that just made me wet my pants with sex wee excitement. Guitar and bass are both used as lead instruments and this offers even more interest on a song that beguiles as well as slays. The second song is entitled ‘Hornet Party’ and the chord medley at the start of the tune immediately just says ‘Seasons In The Abyss’ and Slayer to me, before blasting into the ionosphere with some speedily concussive metal, being sinuously wrapped around by that chord medley. The song as a whole reminds this metal loving idiot of a mix of Slayer and ‘Hooker With A Penis’ era Tool, and let’s be honest that’s a fucking great thing – Tool and Slayer are two of the greatest exponents of their art there are.
Track three, ‘Walk Within’, is where we diverge from the more metal elements of the music and has piano and clean, fingerpicked guitar and a dreamy, ethereal vocal line with a much more proggy sound – it kind of reminds me of a less folky Blood Ceremony throughout the song, until it ends with a huge, dissonant crash and into the fourth cut of the album – ‘Circle Of Days’’ which opens with a superfuzzy doom riff before morphing gently into a supremely technical and complex prog metal song, but with rather more earthiness and soul than most prog and technical metal – there’s gorgeous harmonies, intertwining vocal lines, guitar that alternately wounds and bewitches, yet it maintains a relaxed and smooth groove than you can lean into and special mention must be made of vocalist Ben Jackson. The boy has a fucking amazing set of pipes on him. Equally happy performing a wail worthy of the Ozzmeister himself, to a gravelly low pitched (but still clean) sound, to a more than passable Dave Wyndorf analogue, Ben proves his versatility on every single song and is a fine, fine rock singer. The last tune on the record is called ‘Eye In The Sky’ and is by far the most psychedelic offering on here, with soft wah on the chiming, shining guitars, until four minutes in when the song takes a massive left turn and delivers a metal riff of such shining splendor (imagine Jerry Cantrell at his heaviest in Alice In Chains and make it more metal) I can’t help but fall to my knees and give thanks to the gods of meal for giving me this to listen to. And the solo. Oh, my FUCKING GOD THE SOLO!!!!!!
Yeah, it’s fair to say I am a bit of a fan and Hippie Death Cult (and others like them) are EXACTLY the reason why I trawl the underground for music – under here is where the ultraclassic live. This is where you find the most egregious talents and the greatest music. With rare exceptions, I find the underground bands more astonishing than the mainstream ones. There is NOTHING like Hippie Death Cult in the mainstream and that is to the mainstream’s detriment, because this is sheer inventiveness and music made for the sake of performance. Hippie Death Cult are truer to the soul and idea of metal than Metallica and their ilk will ever be. This record is heavy as fuck, rich, organic, chock full of feeling and absolutely fucking amazing.
The Patented Dark Juan Blood Splat Rating System has listened to this record three times back-to-back already and shows no sign of slowing down because it’s just so fantastic. 10 out of fucking 10 without a question. Buy this. Now. Don’t argue. Just buy it.
‘Red Meat Tricks’ (Official Video)
01. Red Meat Tricks
02. Hornet Party
03. Walk Within
04. Circle of Days
05. Eye In The Sky
Ryan Moore – Drums
Eddie Brnabic – Guitar
Ben Jackson – Vocals/Keys
Laura Phillips – Bass/Vocals
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