The Underground Sounds Of America: Magic Circle

When Boston hardcore dudes form a classic heavy metal band, the result is as old-school as it gets.

The Underground Sounds Of America: Magic Circle
J. Bennett
Reid Hathcock

Welcome to the latest installment of U.S.A.: The Underground Sounds of America, our series that shines a spotlight on the most underrated rock, metal, punk, and hardcore bands in the United States. Each week, we ask one band member to answer five unique questions so you can get to know them better. Because if you aren’t already a fan of the artist featured below…you should be.


The prevailing wisdom on Magic Circle is that they’re a trad-metal band formed by Boston hardcore dudes. And while it’s true that the Sabbathain riff merchants' lineup boasts former and current members of notable Boston HC crews The Rival Mob and No Tolerance, Magic Circle guitarist and co-founder Chris Corry would like to reframe the narrative.

“We’ve all been in all kinds of bands,” he says. “Personally, I’ve been in a lot of stuff that is indebted to 80s hardcore and punk, [but] some other members haven’t. Some of us have been in metal bands for nearly as long. But we never used our hardcore and punk bands in the ‘members of’ promo blurbs because we wanted Magic Circle to stand on its own.”

Mission accomplished there: taking inspiration from Saint Vitus, Witchfinder General and Black Sabbath -- not to mention broader influences like the Beatles and the Who -- Magic Circle fuse the best elements of ’70s hard rock, classic metal and slow-rolling doom into a searing, melodic foundation for the soulful vocals of singer Brendan Radigan. The result is a killer metal record that manages to not sound too stony baby-proofed, providing enough hard rock kinetics to keep even punks and hardcore fans lurching in reverence.

Lyrically, the band’s third and latest album, Departed Souls, is a meditation on “the void left by death on both personal and all-encompassing levels,” Radigan explains. “When I started scribbling stuff early on, it was largely in response to the passing away of musicians and other artists who have greatly inspired me over the years. But then [it] grew larger and larger thematically as I continued to write and redraft the words.”

We reached out to Magic Circle to find out what drives them into such classic territory -- and why the Hell they're not on Instagram.

1) If you had to play just one Magic Circle song for a newcomer to introduce them to the band, what would it be and why?

Chris Corry: Departed Souls, the title track on the new LP. It gives you a good taste of where the band is at now without trying to show you every trick we’ve got. It’s heavy but shows some restraint, has some nice melodies and grooves to sink into, but in keeping with everything we've done, it's rustic and economical.

2) You guys are heavily influenced by Black Sabbath. What’s your favorite Sabbath album, and why?

CC: I love them all, truly—each and every. They’re all special. Tony Iommi plays guitar on every single one. Even when it’s not the “classic era,” he always has an interesting band of cool people he’s working with. I think every version of the band produced at least a few profoundly moving songs, and some versions produced top- to-bottom perfect albums. I love them all. I own them all.

Brendan Radigan: I agree. Sabbath can’t ever be quantified by a single album. There isn’t a single recording I don’t at the very least dee

3) Magic Circle aren’t on social media. What gives?

CC: Social media requires a lot of upkeep, I feel. I’m not sure what it really would do for a band like us beyond advertise shows, but I feel most shows are promoted by the people booking them, anyway. I honestly am not sure what an Instagram page would really achieve for us, though -- except as maybe a hook for a web store. Maybe if we toured six months a year it would be more necessary.

4) What hobby outside of music are you most passionate about?

CC: The boring answer is I buy records. Or accumulate records. It’s an unwieldy hobby. I like reading books on Fortean topics. I love [late UFOlogist] John Keel. I hover between those two.

BR: I like fishing.

5) How has living in Boston -- or Massachusetts generally -- informed Magic Circle’s music?

CC: Some of us no longer live in Boston, but not a whole lot, really. We all like Aerosmith, of course.

BR: In regards to Magic Circle's music, I personally wouldn't say that the city of Boston informed much of anything. Although, Massachusetts may have in that it can be very cold, austere, bleak and beautiful -- all in the same breath.


Magic Circle's Departed Souls drops Friday, March 29th, on 20 Buck Spin, and is already available for preorder.

Now read these

The best of Kerrang! delivered straight to your inbox three times a week. What are you waiting for?