Clint Listing – Voice/Guitars
Ryan Michalski – Strings, Drums, Guitar and vocals on track 3
1. Pagan Vastlands
3. The Watcher
4. Gold Fields
As the temperature drops and the autumnal months make their advance towards winter, you might just find yourself looking for a soundtrack to suit 2020’s diminishing daylight.
American two piece, Magni have offered up four tracks of minimalist, blackened misery that while brief, may just fulfil the need.
Describing themselves as “dark, gothic, folk” the band grew out of guitarist/vocalist Clint Listing’s desire to merge the neo-folk influences of his previous band (As All Die) with the sound of bands such as, Tenhi, Antimatter and Of The Wand And The Moon. Together with his bandmate, Ryan Michalski (who takes the vocal on The Watcher as well performing strings, drums and guitar) they have taken further influence from the Germanic Asatru religion to realise their vision. How strongly that resonates with you may well depend on your own interest in Heathen lore but Listing describes himself as a having a lifelong belief.
A full album is scheduled for release in 2021 but until then, the four tracks on Magni are our best indicator of what’s to come and for now, the jury is still out.
There is a lot of potential here, and some great ideas that imply something interesting, yet unfortunately don’t quite come to fruition. At its best, Magni evokes other more established acts. For example, on Pagan Vastlands I am reminded of a breathy Nick Cave as the song creeps along a melancholy progression. The Watcher initially impresses as it touches on the sound of early nineties, alternative gloomsters The Afgan Whigs, but the song loses momentum once it gets stuck on a repeating refrain of “I just wait for you” and it just seems to go on without much purpose. A bit of quality control and self-editing would’ve saved this.
Despite my reservations, there are still positives.
There are some gorgeous synth embellishments throughout this release that indicate a real strength in this area. Ragnarok shimmers with an icy keyboard line and singles itself out as the highlight of the four songs. Here, Listing alternates his singing voice with a dry-throated hiss – something akin to a death growl. It’s a point of interest that gives a clue to the creative potential of this duo.
My feeling is the best of Magni is yet to come. There is definitely something here, I just feel this EP needed more time to develop. As it is, it sounds like a tentative step in the right direction but I’ll put the emphasis firmly on the right direction part!