Have you ever heard that live album by Down, you know the one where Phil Anselmo sings so far out of tune at one point you can feel the skin trying to crawl from your body? Well, singing aside, at one point he talks about bands tuning down and playing slow not being what doom is all about and I have to admit I couldn’t agree more. My introduction to doom came with bands such as Sabbath (obviously), Candlemass, St Vitus, Trouble, Pentagram…etc. All bands who knew the value of dynamics, pace and melody and not just playing slow for the sake of it and screaming over the top. Well, Mage sit very comfortably in that classic doom mould. Finally, at long last a doom band I can get behind.
Formed from the ashes of Leicester stoners Outburst, Mage have forged a sound that is truly mighty. Their original EP and debut album hinted at their possibility but Last Orders pulls itself up by its britches and nuts you in the face. Right from the off Dark Matter lures you in with some delicate guitar before blasting into some full bore thrash. Oh yes, Mage are not playing by the rules…and that is a large part of their appeal. The guitars of Ben and Woody sound fucking huge thanks to a full blown production from Chris Fielding at Skyhammer Studio. The Fallen is all monolithic riffing topped off by Tom’s raw yet melodic vocals while Old Bones is a four to the floor rocker, bordering on old school thrash which really gets the heart beating. At the other end of the scale Lux Mentis is about as doom as it gets but never sacrificing the classic groove that Andy lays down behind the kit. It’s as heavy as the liposuction waste from a Los Angeles beauty clinic and a lesson in how to do this stuff properly.
There may only be seven songs on this album but let’s face it, when you took the crappy little instrumental bits off the early Sabbath albums you didn’t get much more…plus Mage pack enough riffs of outstanding quality into seven songs than most bands could fit into twenty! This is as full a listening experience as you could wish for. Having seen Mage live I can also attest that the huge sound they achieve is no fluke and certainly not solely down to Chris Fielding’s production, they create a wall of sound every bit as fat as the proverbial fat kid with his cake!
It is heart warming to be able to sit here listening to an album by a British doom band that truly grabs me and gives me hope that the genre isn’t blown out and washed up. Buy the Mage album, book Mage to play your town…you will love it.
Scribed by: Ollie Stygall