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Mage : Key To The Universe

Mage's fourth album both gets them past the tragic loss of founder Ben Aucott and honours his memory with a masterclass in Stoner/Doom.

'Key to the Universe' sees Mage return with their fourth album, following on from their successful 2017 release, 'Green'. That album received a glowing review on these very pages at the time, and was recorded at what was a difficult time for the group following the death of guitarist and founding member, Ben Aucott. This latest release represents the band's first album made entirely without his input, albeit his vision for the sound of the band's music lives on in this stomping Stoner/Doom opus.

The album begins in Mage's inimitable style with a monstrous riff that gets the bluesy Stoner groove going immediately in the aptly titles 'Zen Blues'. Complete with gravel-voiced vocals and some screaming soloing, it's a masterclass in kicking serious arse. Heavy, laced with attitude and impossible not to rock out to, opening tracks don't come much better. It lays down an assured marker for what is an outstanding album, one that may well be the band's finest to date.

Funded by Mage fans via Pledgemusic, 'Key to the Universe' was an investment that has delivered stellar returns for those that contributed to its fruition. As well as featuring the band's trademark fat riffs and stoner vibes, a range of other influences are explored with trad doom flourishes and trippier desert rock elements here and there ensuring a good variety and balance over the album's 7 tracks. The epic 'Facts', which clocks in at over 9 minutes long, showcases many of these influences in one brutal hymn of marauding aggression. The standout though is surely, and appropriately, the title track. Beginning in fast and furious style, it slows down into the kind of riff that Mage have made a career from; pummelling, earth-shattering and laden with more groove than lesser mortals can summon up in an entire career. Gradually morphing into desert rock territory, and even featuring haunting female vocals from Sophie Day, it's a supreme example of stoner/doom, and my favourite track of the summer so far.

It must have been a challenge to make this first album without fallen comrade and founder, Ben Aucott, but in 'Key to the Universe', Mage have done him and his vision proud; not to mention the fans, who once again have been treated to a quality release. Mage have taken their blows, regrouped, taken a swing, and landed a resounding knockout. If you like loud, heavy, stoner/doom and riffs that will shake the very speakers from your walls, this is one you won't want to miss. My album of the year so far, and, in my eyes, a perfect ten.

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Reviewer's rating: 10/10


Tracklist :
1. Zen Blues
2. You Hate Speech
3. Facts
4. Grind
5. Key To The Universe
6. Le Destin Tragique
7. Black Totem

Duration : Approx. 39 minutes

Visit the Mage bandpage.

Reviewed on 2019-09-02 by Nick Harkins
A Dream Of Poe - The Wraith Uncrowned
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