Metal as a genre has existed for approximately half a century and even though a lot of bands have accepted that almost everything has been done before, some fresh acts break the current framework by creating their own sound and re-inventing the wheel. One of these examples is MERCURY CIRCLE, a brand new project by Jaani Peuhu, known for ICONOCRASH and SWALLOW THE SUN. Due to the lack of an already existing genre, MERCURY CIRCLE has been labeled as “new doom” – dark metal infused with powerful synth/electro waves and doom metal; in other words, something that hasn’t been done before. The band is releasing an EP, “The Dawn of Vitriol” through Noble Demon and The Vinyl Division on 14 August 2020.
There’s no denying that “The Dawn of Vitriol,” in general, is a goosebumps-inducing combination of tracks that pierce through your soul with ease. The best way to start a listening journey like that is to, as a musician, carry the listener away with a powerful opening track, “Oil of Vitriol.” Starting off softly with different soundscapes that create an exciting atmosphere, the intro track is infused with a robotic voiceover, reminiscent of sci-fi prog albums such as “War of the Worlds,” after which pounding drums and pizzicato strings build an epic, immersive experience.
The stage is set and another chapter of the story starts with “The Beauty of Agony,” which was previously released as a first single. The same ambiance as the intro track introduced is audible here. Altogether, “The Beauty in Agony” is an incredible mixture of heaviness, mystical atmospheres, incredible instrumentation, and hauntingly beautiful vocals. The song plays around with both rich, layered soundscapes and the simplicity of minimalism – sometimes bombastic, sometimes fragile, always exhilarating. Proving that both guitar virtuoso Yngwie Malmsteen and minimalist architect Mies van der Rohe were right: more is more, but sometimes, less can be more too.
“Black Flags” turns around expectations by balancing more towards electronic music, with a simple beat throughout the whole track and atmospheric austere simplicity supported by strings. The track is mostly carried by Peuhu‘s vocals and the attention goes largely to the poetic lyrics: “Are we drowners? / Like black flags in the river / Will we pull each other underwater?” Of course, midway through it becomes exponentially heavier, but never strays off its path of putting the listener into a trance.
Slow riffs set the tone for “The Last Fall,” probably the most doom-loaden track on the EP. This is probably the most “metal” piece on the album due to the sparing use of electronic elements. Its heavy character is certainly not out of place and within the context of the EP, showcasing the vast diversity these tracks push forward and revealing the various backgrounds of the musicians involved in this project.
Starting off with simple guitar strumming, combined with Peuhu‘s chill-inducing vocals, last track “New Dawn” has a little bit of a Nick Cave vibe in the beginning and much of the atmosphere is built by Peuhu‘s voice. Later on, more instruments are introduced into the mix and instead of the vocals, the instruments take the lead into a hypnotic experience. Midway through, the song takes a different take, by even introducing some elements on the verge of jazz, from drums to a groovy bass melody.
Heraclitus once said that you can’t step into the same river twice and I believe this analogy is perfect to illustrate what MERCURY CIRCLE is all about – when you step into a river, you are stepping into flowing water. The water you stepped into the first time around has already disappeared downstream by the second time you put your foot down. Even though the river is the same river and everything appears to be the same, you are stepping into different water as you walk along the river, always moving forward, never to be repeated. Not one second of this EP sounds repetitive, as the music pushes continuously forward, introducing new elements, twisting and turning with its different song structures, and surprising the listener with every track. At the same time, there is no other band that carries the sound of MERCURY CIRCLE. Combining electronic music with metal music is not a new thing, but the band has done it in such an awe-inspiring manner that it almost leaves me speechless.
- Oil of Vitriol
- The Beauty of Agony
- Black Flags
- The Last Fall
- New Dawn
Jaani Peuhu – Vocals, Guitars, Synths
Juppe Sutela – Guitars
Ande Kiiski – Bass
Jussi Hämäläinen – Guitars, Synths, Backing Vocals
J. Raatikainen – Drums