High Priestess - Casting The Circle review

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Band: High Priestess
Album: Casting The Circle
Release date: April 2020

01. Casting The Circle
02. Erebus
03. The Hourglass
04. Invocation
05. Ave Satanas

From an album called Casting The Circle by a band called High Priestess, you should expect one of two things: a high-flung power metal epic or a slow-moving cloud of incense. For the brief second it will take you to click to the full text of the review, I will keep you in suspense about which one this is.

I'll give you a hint: it's "high" and not "priestess" that's the key word there. In spite of the lofty title, though, Casting The Circle is a fairly minimalist stoner rock album, comprising five cool, slack, and determinedly low-key strolls through the gadda da vida. The meandering whine of the feedback projectors guitars, the hypnotic vocal melodies, and that all-time-classic rhythm - you know, the extremely slow-motion fall - ground this album so firmly in the light-doom-to-stoner spectrum that I'm not about to call it anything else, but droplets of psychedelia bubble up to color the flat, dry desert with something a little more titillating. A little light organ, lovely vocal harmonies, and occasionally expressive guitar melodies suggest a very slow jam on an old prog song more than the obviously stoned-into-submission grooves that dominate.

Mostly the guitars and keys come and go as they please, leaving a lot of empty space, but this is space designed for you to project your own thoughts into; High Priestess aren't about to cram their own ideas into your skull. They were hardly Sleep on the debut, and that was a lot heavier, riding the line between rock and metal to the point of including harsh vocals; this album embraces metal only in a few places. Rather than drenching every song in feedback and overwhelming the listener, Casting The Circle pulls back from the edge and lulls the listener with somnambulant mystery. You'll hear some big, overdriven riffs and striking, higher-pitched vocal lines, but the goal is hypnosis, not bludgeoning, and the generally laid-back approach makes those peaks all the more noticeable.

The album comes to a head in "Invocation," a 17-minute journey that represents the album at its heaviest; this steady stream of doomy riffs, whispered/shouted vocals, and shifting tempos is not only High Priestess's most ambitious composition in their short career, but probably my favorite as well. That aside, though, it seems that High Priestess are more interested in chilling out the mood than anything else, hence the frequent dearth of metal elements, the relaxed tone, and the simple, repetitive songwriting. The execution of every melodic passage is a long-term operation. The closer, "Ave Satanas," is an a cappella track that takes the calm, dreamy vocal lines and puts them out in the open for a fitting end that not only continues the spirit of the album but contrasts nicely with the preceding epic.

Not a lot happens once the circle has been cast, but if you're the type who really enjoys this style, I have a feeling that that won't be a problem for you. Me, I typically like my atmospheres to have a little more or less pressure, but I liked having this as background music for my writing activities, even though it's actually not that light-hearted an album.

Rating breakdown
Performance: 8
Songwriting: 6
Originality: 6
Production: 8


Written on 05.05.2020 by I'm the reviewer, and that means my opinion is correct.


Comments: 1   Visited by: 37 users
05.05.2020 - 18:10
Great power metal album
- I've dreamt of that for years.
- Dying?
- Running.

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