Five dudes with burl enough for seven, UK-based riffloaders Mage make their full-length debut with Black Sands, a record that serves as their diploma earned by graduating from the Down/Orange Goblin school of dudely thrust. Tones are thick, songs are straightforward, drinks are drunk, heads are smashed and tasty basslines abound across the 10-track outing, which is strong in presence and large in sound. They seem to know they’re not fucking with the formula, but they also seem to know which parts of it they want to make their own.
Elements of thrash and show up in “Degenerate” and opener “Cosmic Cruiser X” and the later “Surfing Temporal Tides” speak at least to a lyrical affinity for that which rocks and is stoner, but the mood remains relatively consistent throughout the album, which is a well-written collection of songs obviously geared toward a live setting, where they can be consumed with both proper volume and inebriation. Mage — good luck finding them on the Googles — got together late in 2010 and released a self-titled EP in Spring 2011, so Black Sands is the result of some relatively quick work, but there’s a sense of songwriting experience at work and so ideas are stated clearly and with suitable force.
Vocalist Tom fits the tracks well with a semi-melodic gruffness, matching the two guitars of Woody and Ben while Mark drops low end righteousness and Andy keeps the groove steady on drums, shifting with seeming ease on quick tempo changes like those of “Drowning Doom.” Closer “Hulk Out” is faster in its intro and effective in its starts and stops, but undone by what feels like a hackneyed lyrical reference and lines like, “You’ve never seen anger like this before,” though that kind of chest-beating is nothing new for the genre and at 2:45, it’s also the shortest track on the album — over before you can look up “hulking out” on the Urban Dictionary.
Mage have made the record available in its entirety on their Bandcamp. The band is on Thee Facebooks here, and the album can be purchased through Witch Hunter Records as well. Because we live in a bright an wondrous future, here’s the full stream: