Take your protein pills and put your helmet on! It’s time for the debut of a band that we need to put on your radar straight away. You may know the name MERCURY CIRCLE from the excelling EP, “The Dawn of Vitriol,” which they released in 2020. If not, I have good news! The dark rock outfit are releasing their debut effort, “Killing Moons,” on October 10th, 2021, via our favorite up-and-coming label, Noble Demon.
What makes “Killing Moons” an otherworldly experience is the fact that their music is so fresh and unique. Sure, you can name a couple of sources the band might be inspired by, but altogether what they offer is something that transcends imagination and is ultimately, explorative. I’d be lying if I didn’t tell you that to enjoy the full experience, you have to step outside the frameworks of what metal really is and be openminded about whatever these songs evoke, which ultimately is what this band stands for.
Opening the record is “The Gates Wide Open,” which starts off with quite a peculiar, ambient sound, along with some distant tribal-like drums; the whole experience feels kind of ethereal and therefore is quite a good introduction of what you can expect on the record. This tribal feeling persists throughout the songs and gives an interesting, raw contrast to whenever Jaani Peuhu opens up his airways and sings in an almost spoken manner. The song erupts into a heavy, slow chorus, leaning more towards doom metal.
Next up, the catchiest track on the record, “Black Mirrors,” introduces some lighter moods to the table, combining poppy ’80s elements with post punk/Goth rock vibes. The tempo winds down with “You Open Up The Earth.” While overall the song contains a melancholic, dark mood, there is something about it that offers a safe haven to the listener and leaves an overall heartwarming feeling. “Killing Moons” starts off really heavy, with dark doomy guitar riffs, but clears up like a thunderstorm rushing over town as soon as the verses start, where the vocals are accompanied by percussion and a more ambient guitar sound. It all comes together in a powerful chorus.
“Seven Archangels” begins with beautiful atmospheric female vocals, before an upbeat, poppy sound kicks in, offering one of the best tracks of this album. In a song like this, it’s clear how much detail is put in these tracks. Like most of MERCURY CIRCLE‘s songs, this is one of those tracks that will get you to explore more and more details upon each listen, which makes the listening experience fun.
At this point, the record’s character gets a more experimental. A beautiful harp intro introduces the next track, “Call On The Dark”; distant, distorted voices go alongside of it, again giving it that otherworldly, almost extraterrestrial touch. This seemingly more classical approach in the beginning is just one of the many perks of this record. A piano kicks in after the intro, which for some reason fills me up with a feeling of sehnsucht [trans: longing]. The piano is left behind and a synth-pop-inspired atmosphere takes over.
For those who wanted some really slow tracks included on this record, the extremely atmospheric “Avalanche,” is surely going to be appealing. The tempo doesn’t pick up with “An Arrow,” but interestingly, it has a lot of cool electronic sounds incorporated, which ultimately remind me of the cult movie The Crow… don’t ask me why, though. The soft poppy touches incorporated in this track make it feel light as air and ultimately fill you with a feeling of happiness.
“Like Matches,” on the other hand, is a light poppy Goth-rock anthem, featuring the enchanting vocals of Cammie Gilbert (OCEANS OF SLUMBER). I’m going to be honest, but literally any song that she touches turns to gold, and the combination with Jaani Peuhu was surprisingly great! Both of these vocalists have the power to evoke something deep within your soul as their performance is often emotional and somehow relatable. To see them working together on a song is almost magic.
The longest track of the album, “Death Poem,” is also the last song the band has to offer on “Killing Moons.” It starts off with an ambient intro that, despite its ominous title, has somewhat of a relaxing, soothing sound to it. Around the 1:30 mark, the song turns into the doomiest spectacle the album yet has to offer yet with slow, heavy riffs and ominous drumming, but with the addition of subtle keyboards in the background, the massive song becomes a lot more lighter and hopeful.
What is also interesting about this album is the dynamics. For instance, the vocals sometimes sound a little bit distant, depending on the song. For instance, in an emotional plea like “You Open Up the Earth,” Jaani Peuhu‘s voice sounds crystal clear, because that is what the song requires, but in a song like “Call On The Dark,” his voice sounds more distant and feels more like part of the soundscape, as if it were an instrument. On top, the sound seems to play around with both minimalistic sections and bombastic sections. The dynamics were thus carefully chosen and thought-out, which makes the record feel like a multidimensional listening experience.
All-in-all, nowadays, people like to claim that they don’t want to label their music, that they are trying to do something unique, but there are only a handful of bands that actually compose groundbreaking music. MERCURY CIRCLE is certainly one of those bands. “Killing Moons” is diverse, but at the same time, the music has a specific identity that is very recognizable. The fact that this band doesn’t use samples, but instead invites a lot of different guests to play different instruments – eg. the harp, shaman drums, etc. – creates a lot of warmth and authenticity to their sound. While their tunes are overly melancholic, there are still a lot of hopeful elements in their songs… the perfect soundtrack to the start of autumn season.
1. The Gates Wide Open
2. Black Mirrors
3. You Open Up The Earth
4. Killing Moons
5. Seven Archangels
6. Call On The Dark
8. An Arrow
9. Like Matches
10. Death Poem
Jaani Peuhu – vocals, guitars, synths
Jussi Hämäläinen – guitars, synths, backing vocals
Juppe Sutela – guitars
Ande Kiiski – bass
Jaska Raatikainen – drums