The first time I happened upon this Swedish trio, the thing that struck me was their name as it immediately made think of the track of the same name by the band Fuzz, a side-project formed by Garage-Rock behemoth Ty Seagall in an effort to satisfy his 70’s Hard Rock impulses. Reading the bio of Hazemaze I was not altogether surprised therefore to discover the band had originally formed as a Garage-Rock outfit before going down the Psychedelic/70s’s Hard Rock route.
Keeping with the Garage-Rock theme, the front cover reminds me of the type of thing you’d find by Thee Oh Sees with their brand of eccentric and offbeat Psychedelic influenced cover art. You also can’t be a Psych band and not feature eyes, a trend that I would argue started with the 13th Floor Elevators.
Hymns Of The Damned is the follow-up to the band’s acclaimed Self-Titled debut from last year and opens with Shadow In The Night with its steady kick drum intro that recalls Black Sabbath’s Iron Man. The next track Morbid Lust comes and goes, its’ loud, it rocks but you’d struggle to remember it as it does sound, for the most part, rather interchangeable with other Stoner/Doom bands currently doing the rounds. Thrill Seeker is better, with a sound that would suggest that Hazemaze have been listening to The Cramps, what with the swampy dark sound it conjures. For me, any band that takes its cues from the Psychobilly legends suggests they have an excellent taste in music if nothing else.
The albums longest track is Solicitor Of Evil, (kind of ironic when you think about it, to any Americans reading this, solicitor means lawyer in the UK) and chugs along at nearly 7 interminable minutes. The track Green River has some nice Nebula influences and helps pique my interest momentarily.
Final number Forever Trapped In Hell catches my attention, it is for me one of the better tracks on the album with the main riff reminding me a little of The Obsessed and the track Streetside…
Final number Forever Trapped In Hell catches my attention, it is for me one of the better tracks on the album with the main riff reminding me a little of The Obsessed and the track Streetside from that band’s classic The Church Within. It actually helps bookend the album on a more positive note.
As a fan of the Doom/Stoner genre for many a year, it’s a first for me to listen to an album in the genre and for it to leave no marked impression. Maybe it’s a saturation of the genre whereby bands like Hazemaze are two (or ten) a penny. There were of course some genuinely enjoyable moments but as soon as the album ended, it evaporated almost immediately in my memory.
A major criticism of the Stoner Rock genre/sound has been its over infatuation with 70’s retro Hard Rock, Sabbath, Bang, Pentagram, Dust, Deep Purple, you know the names. But at the very least it’s fun to listen to and has always been more concerned with creating a vibe, than reinventing the wheel, musically speaking, which has always been part of its appeal and charm. Unfortunately, Hymns Of The Damned failed to even conjure that for me.
So, cutting to the chase, the album is well-played, produced, with fabulous cover art. Maybe I’ve just been spoiled by Saint Karloff’s superb Interstellar Voodoo, but this record reminds me of the two most recent dates I’ve been on; great fun with some lovely people but who ultimately didn’t leave me with butterflies in my stomach, a quickening pulse or the incentive to pursue anything further.
Scribed by: Reza Mills