High Priestess, Casting the Circle Review (Ripple Music, 2020)

The new album from High Priestess is the next step in their atmospheric doom ensemble that will take you to places you have never been before.

High Priestess is a three-piece band from Los Angeles: Katie Gilchrest (guitars, vocals, organ), Mariana Fiel (bass, vocals), and Megan Mullins (drums, percussion). Their first album, High Priestess, met with significant praise in 2018 for its rich compositions and boundary-challenging style. The guitars and themes of the music are heavy yet often the music is deceptively gentle at times, insinuative. Many of the passages in their songs have a deep desert aura and are mesmerizing to the point of hypnosis. And still the heavy is in there, and so is the doom.

The new album is Casting the Circle.The opening track, fittingly titled “Casting the Circle,” is a somber meditation for the first couple of minutes, and then it opens up into an aerial view of an encamped army on a low sloping hillside at dusk with campfires just beginning to appear. “Erebus” follows and it definitely feels like a dark ritual and a spell. Fitting, given the name. Very mystical and creepy. Halfway through the 9+ minute song, a forlorn guitar bleeds into the soundscape and tells a story of blood magic and sadness. The mood is heavy in these first two pieces. In the third song, “The Hourglass,” there is more of a narrative message and the song structure is rather Floydian, to an expanding positive effect.

The centerpiece of the album is the 17 minute “Invocation.” It is a long journey that is well rewarded. The parameters are established early, and by the five minute mark the band is working in a beautiful and intoxicating guitar lead before transitioning into the choral mantra of the cycle. By the end you have become an initiate. The album closes with “Ave Satanas,” an echoey acapella conclusion of beautiful, overlaid voices. As a whole, Casting the Circle is entirely satisfying. It is complete in its construction and execution. It is original and captivating, so much so that it lodges itself among your memories and in your desires. This is one you will not soon forget. Recommended.

The CD and vinyl, as well as streaming and digital download, are available today, April 10, 2020. You can get them at Bandcamp and the usual other outlets (links below).

Photo: The band photo is from their Facebook page, by @roadrash666.





High Priestess, Casting the Circle Review (Ripple Music, 2020)