21 May 2021 - Thorsten
Heavy Psychedelic | Heavy Psych Sounds | Release date: 21 May 2021
Portland, Oregon-based quartet Hippie Death Cult shows how cleverly you can do classic American Rock if you infuse it with some unusual moments that turn the ordinary into the magical.
A few weeks ago, Heavy Psych Sounds already released a few tracks by the band as part of the fifth installment of their Doom Sessions series (together with High Reeper). Now, less than a month later they follow up with the newest full-length Circle Of Days, which is the follow-up to their debut 111 from 2019. The concoction they prepared for us is a cross between early 80s metal and some swampy Louisiana-rock on the one side and early Grunge and Noise-Rock. Think of something between King Diamond, Skynyrd, (mid-era) Soundgarden and Mother Love Bone
But first things first: the record is really interesting in the way that the five tracks are really somehow split in half, with the first two tracks being really high-octane rockers and the third track ”Walk Within” being a perfect song to get from one side to the next. Its five minutes feature a really nice guitar and piano intro before the drums slowly set in after a bit more than 35 seconds. The guitar solo at the end is really nice, but maybe a bit too much AOR. However, the song never sets off but is a nice meadow amidst the two sides because the next two tracks are definitely heavy on mood, atmosphere and psychedelia.
Track four is the title track and it is a nice stomper ladden with keys and drenched in Soundgarden (approx Superunknown and Down on the Upside) - generally one can attest that the record sounds a bit like a mix of Seattle and San Francisco. Especially Ben Jackson on the keys and delivering the vocals is a good middle between Chris Cornell and Andrew Wood with some well-performed vibratos and also some good middle-passages. Interesting is the second half of the title-track when the drums kick in just a little more to give the song more drive and verve which is a real asset, for sure. When the guitar and synth lines also move up a bit, the song becomes more vibrant and promising. The psychedelic effect sets in when after roughly seven minutes the song completely falls down and Eddie Brnabic is allowed to show his guitar solo-skills when he really uses the very last bit of reverb before a long outro. In that structural aspect the song is very much like ”Hotel California”.
The final track ”Eye In the Sky” then is more on the Led Zep side of things with lots of reverb on the opening guitar and one has the feeling on noticing a re-recording of some lost 70s gem that unfortunately never has seen the light of day. The track sounds like a very last tribute to Soundgarden, before the second half of it once again is out to kick some … you know what. The riffs roll up and down the horizon and the whole track is like a deus ex machina because the change is so abrupt and yet somehow so welcome. On ”Eye In the Sky” all the qualities of Hippie Death Cult flow together, the dynamic drumming, the wonderful vocals, the moody keys underneath the track and also the perfect change between the guitar riffing it out and accentuating the mood.
When comparing this full-length to the track on Doom Sessions Vol. 5 one must say that the split-EP might have had the better and stronger songs, but the album works very well as a whole. Something that the one side of a 7” of course couldn’t deliver. So in that sense, Circle Of Days gives you more of everything. Maybe not as condensed as on the EP, yet you can find everything here that you loved about the former tracks.