Mage ‘Black Sands’ CD/DD 2012

Mage 'Black Sands' CD/DD 2012Mage’s debut EP in 2011 was a tantalising taste of things to come for the band, muscular riffs and raw yet soulful vocals combined in a stoner/doom crossover style that was simple yet highly effective. In the time since that EP was released the band have gigged sporadically yet their profile has somewhat slipped from view until now when they come back, full throttle with this full length effort.

Is it a progression from the EP? Not massively, and that’s probably why this album works so well. Mage weren’t doing anything wrong in the first place so why fuck with a lack of progress. This is business as usual as this Midlands based 5 piece tear through ten tracks of groove filled, riffmongous rock and roll. It touches on doom in parts, it has a healthy lungful of stoner rock, flirts with some old school classic sounds and even dips its toe in the muddy waters of thrash on occasion, such as the frantic intro to “Rust”. Each track rips along on a succession of killer riffs backed up by Andy’s innate sense of groove on the drums that never fail to get your toes twitching and a more than cursory nod of the head.

Mage don’t go in for any tiresome prog theatrics…thank fuck. The riffs are simple and are best served as a result being both catchy and sufficiently meaty. Tom’s vocals once again are a high point, his raw voice displaying a keen sense of melody that has shades of both Wino and Hetfield. Structurally the songs don’t set out to confuse or bedazzle…only to drive the point of the song home as the riff and melodies are given space and time to develop, build and immerse themselves in your psyche. Songs go fast when they need to, slow down to a hefty grind when they need to and rock out when they need to…it ain’t clever but it is big, very big!!!

Sonically Mage have achieved a mighty, fat sound, mainly thanks to the wall of sound produced by the guitars. Clearly the band have invested a little more time and effort into the recording of this compared with the original EP and this shows as the production here would not disgrace many far bigger releases.

Overall this is an impressive package that comes in a sexy digipak…and mine came with some stickers and badges…but that may have been to sweeten me up for a decent review!!! They needn’t have worried, this could have been sent to me in a tramp’s sock and it would still have been an impressive release. If these guys can get their arses out on the road there’s no reason why they couldn’t cause a reasonable stink in the metal underground and put the wind up some of the bigger and less worthy names on the scene.

Label: Self Released

Scribed by: Ollie Stygall