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Haze - The Last Battle CD (album) cover

THE LAST BATTLE

Haze

 

Neo-Prog

3.68 | 25 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

kev rowland
Special Collaborator
Crossover Team
5 stars A long time coming, this is the first CD of new studio recordings from Haze for over 25 years ('Stoat & Bottle' was released in 1987). The classic line-up of Chris McMahon, Paul McMahon and Paul Chisnell have been joined by Cat & Ceri Ashton of The Outlandish Knights (which is the ceilidh band which features all five of them ? so one could argue that this is an Outlandish Knights album with Haze influences, or possibly the other way around). One thing these guys have always managed to do is keep different bands going with different names and musical styles (I have seen Chris onstage at least three times, but never as part of Haze!). So here we have a prog album with plenty of folk influences. While Haze have always swapped instruments and all taken lead vocals, the addition of the Ashton sisters who are both happy on woodwind and strings has given the music a further depth and a much stronger folk sound.

If you can imagine classic Seventies rock mixed with Red Jasper and later-period Fairport Convention then may just get close to what this album sounds like. It is all over the place in terms of what is going on so a folk number may get blown away by an electric rocker while the drum kit may be replaced by congas or a yambu. This is all about quality melodic songs, not about being flash and over the top so consequently the listener soon finds themselves wrapped into their world. All three guys take on lead vocals, sometimes duetting or swapping lines, which again adds to the depth of the album.

I greatly regret never having seen Haze in concert, but do have fond memories of World Turtle (the McMahon brothers with a drum machine) who not only released incredible albums but were amazing live, and I can only imagine that Haze were even better! I would love to have been at the Haze 30th Anniversary show where some of these numbers were showcased for the first time. They have also tried a couple of these out with some of their other bands before settling them into Haze.

There is no doubt in my mind that Haze are one of the most criminally overlooked bands from the UK, whatever genre. These guys are all about producing class music that is accessible and layered that can be enjoyed from the very first play. Chris is the happiest guy I have ever seen onstage, always with a huge smile on his face, and isn't music all about having fun? Sadly this turned out to be Paul Chisnell's swansong as he had to retire due to suffering severe tinnitus. So, keeping it in the family the new drummer is Danny McMahon (Paul's son) while the band has permanently expanded to a four-piece with the full-time addition of Ceri Ashton. If you go to the website not only can you order the album (either physical or downloads) but you can also see the details for each song, who played what and the story behind it plus the lyrics. Of course, while you're there check out the gig list, what other items they have for sale and of course the rest of their bands. If you haven't a copy of their 20th Anniversary double CD set then there is just no excuse and you need to pick that up at the same time. www.gabadon.co.uk

kev rowland | 5/5 |

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