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Haze Mage - Chronicles

Label: Grimoire Records
Format: Download
Released: 2019
Reviewed By: Jack Mangan
Rating: 8/10


Even without the band name, even without the high fantasy elements to the lyrics, and even without the sounds of, um, paraphernalia at the beginning of track 3, “Bong Witch,” I’d have classified this as Stoner Doom Metal. The band’s instruments on “Chronicles” are recorded pretty straightforwardly, with a fuzzy, murky tone across everything. The drums are banging busily, but buried a bit in the hazy mix (no pun intended). Vocalist Matthew Casella is the only element that brings hammy dramatics to tape (vinyl, hard drive, streaming - - whatever), channeling a bit of Dick Valentine’s (Electric Six) knowing, earnest, tongue-in-cheek goofiness, as well as Glenn Danzig's power and unwitting silliness. This can be endearing on sing-along choruses, such as in “Storm Blade” and “Dread Queen,” the latter of which could easily (intentionally?) be misheard as “Drag Queen.”

 

There’s a loose, swords-and-sorcery concept running through the album, their first full-length, for those paying attention. Credit to Haze Mage for straddling the fantasy line between serious and cheese, without ever devolving into satire 2-bit.
Haze Mage have a fairly “Keep It Simple, Stupid” attitude toward song construction, although the individual pieces are designed with some care and craft. This approach is pretty common, especially in Doom circles; it doesn’t work for everyone, but it works for them. The songs are engaging and interesting, and in the simplest terms, at the end of the bowl, this is all that matters.

 
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