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Mage : Last Orders

Mage's sophomore might need a new subgenre: 'Thrash metal with slight Stoner overtones and Doom undercurrents'.

For some unknown reason, Mage are dubbed as a Stoner Doom metal group. While 'Last Orders' does exhibit mild influences from both Stoner rock and traditional Doom metal (especially in the last couple of songs), there's little of the classic Stoner/Doom aesthetic to be found on the album. The opening track and those which follow exhibit a strong 'South Of Heaven'-era Slayer sound, in particular where Slayer's slower parts on that classic album are concerned, where they had been both atmospheric (as far as Thrash metal is concerned regarding its ability to conjure atmosphere, that is) and ominous, even slightly dark. On the same note, even Mage's vocalist sounds like Tom Araya throughout the album's better part; clear yet throaty, marginally angry and epic. As a matter of fact, 'South Of Heaven' was the very first reference that this troubled mind had conjured, upon listening to the opening track 'Dark Matter', both musically and vocal-wise. This first track made this reviewer intrigued as to what else was in store between the pages of this little album, recorded by a band this reviewer hadn't even known existed.

Add to this the playing attitude - thrashing rhythm guitars and mid-paced songs - constructing riffs that sound almost like classic Thrash, and there you have it: groovy, robust, energetic and well written Thrash metal album with an inherent inspiration to become more than a mere thrash metal album. And indeed, the result is anything but your habitual uninspired thrash routine, exercised by too-many-to-count bands that do nothing but water down and dilute a subgenre that was once the crown jewel of metal music.

The erroneous style tag, calling Mage's music Stoner Doom, may derive from the fact the lead guitar does roam occasionally toward the groove-laden, Stoner aesthetic, but if someone wants to hit the nail on its head regarding the true nature of the music contained within 'Last Orders', they should probably dub this elegant metallic offering as 'Thrash metal with slight Stoner overtones and Doom undercurrents'. How's that for a name tag in regard to a style of music said band is playing?

'Last Orders' is a rather friendly recording in that it grabs the listener's attention immediately with its vintage style coupled with a contemporary production; in addition, the guitar-driven, riff-oriented songs are extremely catchy despite the overall heaviness of the muscle-guitars and the macho rhythm section. The song writing is smooth and inherently dynamic, streamlining classic familiarity with a unique identity and sonic attitude that is rather singular. You get headbanging moments alongside more epic and vast tunes; you can literally drown in the beautiful barrage of distortion that seem to be all over the place and find yourself contemplating during the most melodic moments where the vocalist is in his most gentle phase, adhering a second, silky voice to the granular, quasi-angered usual performance of his.

All in all, 'Last Orders' is a well-written, well-thought out sophomore effort for this virtually unheralded UK-based band that shows a lot of attitude and individuality, but in the same breath sounds very archetypal - in the sense that this could have very well been the creation of some supergroup of metal oldschoolers from both the Thrash metal and the traditional Doom metal movements jamming for the fun of it - and in turn, making us enjoy a very good metal album coupled with some excellent lyrics to match.

If you like stuff like Speedblow's 'Behold the Darkness', for instance (or Slayer's aforementioned 'South Of Heaven' for that matter), you WILL dig 'Last Orders'.

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Reviewer's rating: 7/10


Tracklist :
1. Dark Matter
2. The Fallen
3. Old Bones
4. Lux Mentis
5. Beyond
6. Violent Skies
7. One For The Road

Duration : Approx. 36 minutes

Visit the Mage bandpage.

Reviewed on 2014-11-29 by Chaim Drishner
Aesthetic Death
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