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Neo-Prog • United Kingdom

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Haze biography
HAZE was formed in 1978 by brothers Chris and Paul McMahon and were one of a handful of groups in the late 70's/early 80's who embraced progressive rock and formed the neo-prog movement in the UK. The band spent years going through several lineup changes and small gigs, until 1983 when drummer Paul Chisnell joined the band. The band would remain stable for the next five years until its demise in 1988.

The band released its albums on its own label Gabadon Records. In 1984 the band released its first full-length offering titled "C'est La Vie". The band then toured, releasing several tapes, including "The Ember", "Cellar Replay" and the live "Warts n' All". In 1987, the band released its second and last LP "Stoat & Bottle" and followed that up with a tour of Holland.

In 1988, the band decided to call it quits, plagued by financial difficulties and musical differences. They played a farewell concert in Sheffield in May and disbanded. Chris and Paul McMahon formed a new group called WORLD TURTLE shortly thereafter, without drummer Paul Chisnell, but including Pendragon drummer Fudge Smith. Paul McMahon soon left the band however and retired from the music business. Chris went on to form TREEBEARD, a folk outfit, as well as releasing his own solo album.

In 1993, Kinesis Disks released the HAZE compilation album "In The End: 1978-1988". This sparked renewed interest in the band, and Paul McMahon came out of retirement to reform WORLD TURTLE with his brother. An album titled "World Turtle/Haze" was released in 1994, although it has never been clear whether this was the final album for HAZE or the first album for WORLD TURTLE. Because it includes many songs written and recorded by HAZE, it has been included here.

In 1996, Cyclops music released the compilation "C'est La Vie/The Ember", followed in 2000 by "Cellar Replayed" and in 2008 by "Stoat & Bottle". As these are the only available versions of original HAZE studio material, these are included as their studio albums, with "In The End" listed as a compilation album. The band WORLD TURTLE has released further albums, which take a more commercial approach to music. HAZE has reformed occasionally to do anniversary concerts, the latest of which was captured on their "30th Anniversary Shows" live CD in 2008.

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HAZE discography

Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help to complete the discography and add albums

HAZE top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.11 | 8 ratings
C'est La Vie/The Ember
3.37 | 13 ratings
Cellar Replayed
3.19 | 15 ratings
Stoat & Bottle
2.65 | 8 ratings
World Turtle
3.20 | 6 ratings
Wilderness Of Eden (as World Turtle)
3.69 | 37 ratings
The Last Battle

HAZE Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.17 | 4 ratings
10th Anniversary Show
4.09 | 3 ratings
20th Anniversary Show
4.98 | 5 ratings
30th Anniversary Shows

HAZE Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

4.00 | 2 ratings
In That Branch Of The Lake (DVD)

HAZE Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.16 | 6 ratings
In The End
3.00 | 2 ratings
C'est La Vie & The Ember
3.00 | 1 ratings
The Cellar Tapes 30th Anniversary Edition

HAZE Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

HAZE Reviews

Showing last 10 reviews only
 The Cellar Tapes 30th Anniversary Edition by HAZE album cover Boxset/Compilation, 2013
3.00 | 1 ratings

The Cellar Tapes 30th Anniversary Edition
Haze Neo-Prog

Review by apps79
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

— First review of this album —
3 stars Haze came to life in Sheffield, UK in 1978 by teenager brothers Paul McMahon (guitar, vocals) and Chris McMahon (bass, keyboards).Originally the band was a quartet, but they soon abandoned the idea of having a full-time keyboardist with Chris playing the keyboards along with his bass duties.The band changed some drummers over the years, from Andy McNaughten (who played on the band's 81' 7'' single) and Dave Kirkham (member circa 1982) they settled with Arthur Deas and with this core they recorded their debut cassette ''The cellar tapes'' in 1983, apparently captured in the cellar of the McMahon brothers.

There's no need to get out and search for the original cassette, the band made this album available in 2013 as ''The cellar tapes- 30th anniversary edition'' along with some demo and live tracks and the pair of cuts present on Haze' lone 81' single.''The cellar tapes'' is a great evidence of how desperate some young musicians were back in early-80's to produce refined, semi-symphonic music with influences from giants such as GENESIS and PINK FLOYD, they would do whatever it took to get their stuff exposed and Haze established their own Gabadon label to promote this first work.Musically it's somewhere between soft Symphonic Rock and the emerging Neo Prog sound, borrowing tunes from a handful of famous Rock and Prog tracks and throwing them into their own ideas, for example ''Turn around'' contains echoes from Genesis' sentimental ballad ''Afterglow''.The material contains the typical raw values of 80's British Neo Prog, it's played with honesty and passion and swirls around synth- and organ- drenched arrangements with full-blown electric guitars and some theatrical aspects during the vocal parts, while the more symphonic moves contain some light flute parts, performed by guests Jill Stoddart and Judith Copey.Some strong synth runs, some pastoral passages and even some New Wave aesthetics pop up here and there, the recording sounds very rough at moments, but there is a definite mood by the McMahon family to deliver elaborate and progressive tunes, even if at times they derail and sound more angular than needed.

This is a direct order by the band's website.The early days of Haze are exposed here in an amalgam of fading symphonic and emerging New Prog stylings with organ, synths, electric piano and electric guitars in evidence, mixing rockin' themes with 70's-styled lush arrangements.Recommended.

 The Last Battle by HAZE album cover Studio Album, 2013
3.69 | 37 ratings

The Last Battle
Haze Neo-Prog

Review by kenethlevine
Special Collaborator Prog-Folk Team

3 stars Before there was MOSTLY AUTUMN, GRACE, JUMP and RED JASPER, HAZE rolled in on the glassy tarn of early 1980s neo prog. They have remained relatively obscure, as much because they owe less to GENESIS or PINK FLOYD than most second or third wave bands, and more to the likes of JETHRO TULL, STRAWBS, or LINDISFARNE, as well as to less folky classic British rock. This first studio recording in over 20 years unfortunately does not represent a welling up of creative juices, as most if not all of these tracks have already appeared on Haze related albums in different versions..

The improved sound quality enhances the appeal of already majestic cuts like "The Last Battle", "For Real" and "Edge of Heaven", but it can't really do much for lyrically limp and musically hokey material like "Classic Rock Bar" and "The Barrister and the Barghast". Rocking out also yields mixed achievements, with "Train" a genuinely endearing blues folk number that is part SWEET and part HORSLIPS, and "Long Long Gone" a plod rock bore.

One of the problems with HAZE is that they are not really convincing in any of their facets - for instance, the Celtic instrumentals lack the wherewithal of more committed practitioners. "Balder and the Mistletoe" drags on for 5+ minutes without ever piercing its tightly wound trad bubble, electric instrumentation notwithstanding. "Is That It" and "The Red Room" are probably the most progressive tunes here but again should have wound up mostly on the studio floor. They fare best when positioned in the broad crossover folk rock of "Dragonfly", "Over the River", and the previously mentioned highlights.

As a dusted off and polished summation to HAZE's career up to now, "THE LAST BATTLE" is a modest success, but let's hope that they can return to the front with new weaponry before the old gets recycled yet again.

 30th Anniversary Shows by HAZE album cover Live, 2008
4.98 | 5 ratings

30th Anniversary Shows
Haze Neo-Prog

Review by kev rowland
Special Collaborator Crossover Prog Team

5 stars It is incredible to note that Haze were formed in 1978, and that this 30th Anniversary concert is already five years old yet they are still gigging, have just released a new studio album, and show no signs at all of slowing down. When I moved to NZ I lost touch with Chris McMahon, but recently we started swapping emails and he sent me 'The Last Battle', the reissued 'Stoat' and this one. Given that they had already released a 10th Anniversary album and a 20th Anniversary (where I was thanked in the credits, which was much appreciated), there was always going to be an issue with repeated content but they got around this by playing some rarely aired numbers, a few by World Turtle and Treebeard, and some new songs which would later appear on the new album as well as the old favourites. In addition, they also extended their sound by moving away from the set trio of Paul Chisnell (percussion, vocals), Paul McMahon (vocals, guitar, guitar synth) and Chris McMahon (keyboards, bass, vocals) by bringing in Ceri Ashton to provide flute on various songs, who has since joined as a full member of the band. There are also a couple of guests on the final song of the night, namely Rog Patterson and Greg Smith from Twice Bitten, another Eighties band who never gained the recognition their music fully deserve.

The plan was to record two nights in 2008, but there were sound issues at the first gig in Kingston so only one song has been included from that set, a version of 'Seven Stones' which they didn't play the following night in Sheffield. The rest of the songs are all from Sheffield, in the order in which they were played so if you were lucky enough to be there that night this was what you would have heard. Haze are one of the prog bands that I have never managed to catch in concert (in my defence they were gigging hard in the Eighties but didn't know about them until the Nineties when they were not as frequent), but I did manage to see World Turtle which was the McMahon brothers plus a drum machine and they blew me away that night (plus I have managed to catch Chris a few times as well).

All of the guys are incredible musicians, and they blast through a set which contains just about everything a fan would want with 'The Vice' and 'Another Country' being real standouts, while they also play 'Let Go' which is my favourite World Turtle number and here it gains an additional presence. Chris is a master of switching between bass and keyboards, often in the same song, so this rarely sounds like a trio while Paul is a polished guitarist who points out that thirty years earlier he only owned one guitar, which was the one he was playing then!

Haze are a band that have always been masters of the live environment, and here they have the space to shine in front of hardcore fans in their home base of Sheffield, and they certainly relished the experience. If you are new to this band then this is the album to start with as neo-prog doesn't get any better than this, and if you are aware of Haze what is your excuse for not having this already?

 Stoat & Bottle by HAZE album cover Studio Album, 1987
3.19 | 15 ratings

Stoat & Bottle
Haze Neo-Prog

Review by kev rowland
Special Collaborator Crossover Prog Team

4 stars And so, in 1996 Haze released what was going to be the first of a trilogy of CDs, making available the recordings they made in the Eighties. At this time I seem to remember that the band were no more, although Paul and Chris McMahon were working as World Turtle and were also in Treebeard with Haze drummer Paul Chisnell, but given that these guys have resurrected the Haze name more than once as well as playing in other bands nearly every night of the week I could be wrong! A mere four years later and the second CD appeared, and as quick as a flash (okay, it took another eight years) the final part arrived, 'Stoat & Bottle'. When they attempted to remix these it was discovered that the original tapes were not exactly up to the task so instead they concentrated on just digitally transferring them. So, what this means is what I am listening to sounds pretty close to how it would have been played back in 1987 (vinyl and cassette no less). That means that at least for the first song I found that I was concentrating more on the quality of the recording than of the quality of the music, but soon moved on to discover the delights that are contained within.

The original album contains some gems that the band still play in concert today, such as "The Vice" which has always been one of my personal favourites. It is the longest song on the album, and it always amazes me that somehow Chris manages to switch between keyboards and bass so effectively when playing this in concert, the only other musician I have ever witnessed managing to pull this off with aplomb is Geddy Lee! As with much of Haze's music, this is driving over the top neo-prog with crunching guitars, swathes of keyboards, pounding bass all being muscled along by powerful drums. "Autumn" starts off as a blues number, with some strident soloing from Paul and it is the combination of different styles that makes this work so well.

There are lots of additional tracks, and while the sound is undoubtedly the product of being an old recording originally made on a budget by an underground prog act, there is no doubting that any fan of the band or of neo-prog in general will need to discover this further. These guys knows that the word 'rock' is as important as the word 'progressive' and provide plenty of blast to go with the finesse and skill. For me I enjoyed going back to hear the original versions of some songs I already knew, plus plenty of new ones, but for a newcomer to the band I would get one of their Anniversary show concerts first and then come back to discover some great music from a prog band that started in the Seventies and keep coming back for more.

 The Last Battle by HAZE album cover Studio Album, 2013
3.69 | 37 ratings

The Last Battle
Haze Neo-Prog

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

2 stars Haze are, like Solstice, one of those first-wave neo-prog bands who never quite clicked with me and always kind of felt that they'd been lumped in with the neo-prog cloud by accident. At most they seemed to just play mildly psychedelic melodic rock hampered by middling production values, somewhat naive lyrics, and not especially interesting or varied song structures. Now, after a long hiatus, they've returned for a new album, and guess what: they've brought all their bad habits back with them.

To an extent, this is inevitable, since as far as I can tell a high proportion of these songs are bits and pieces from the archives of Haze (or various other Haze-related projects) given a dust- off and a new recording. However, the mildly improved production values only demonstrate how little these compositions had to offer in the first place. Meh.

 Cellar Replayed by HAZE album cover Studio Album, 1985
3.37 | 13 ratings

Cellar Replayed
Haze Neo-Prog

Review by kev rowland
Special Collaborator Crossover Prog Team

3 stars Surely, Haze are one of the best-loved British prog bands, although I have studiously managed to miss all of their gigs since they reformed. In the Eighties, they appeared to live on the road, bringing prog to the masses. Their first album release was a cassette called 'The Cellar Tapes' which came out in 1983. Having sold all of the copies, and having gained a new drummer in Paul Chisnell they decided to go back into the studio in 1985 and re-record many of the songs for a new cassette, 'Cellar Replay'. Therefore, what I have in my player is a CD remastered reissue (with some extra tracks) of the 1985 re-recording of the 1983 album!! Confused?

This is very much like going back in time. The band have moved on a great deal since 1985, and even classics such as "Dig Them Mushrooms" (which was originally recorded for a single in 1981) sound quite different today. It is not an album that I would suggest that someone new to Haze should go for (get the superb, wonderful live album instead), but is one that anyone who has ever heard them should get immediately.

Originally appeared in Feedback #60

 The Last Battle by HAZE album cover Studio Album, 2013
3.69 | 37 ratings

The Last Battle
Haze Neo-Prog

Review by kev rowland
Special Collaborator Crossover Prog 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.

 The Last Battle by HAZE album cover Studio Album, 2013
3.69 | 37 ratings

The Last Battle
Haze Neo-Prog

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
Special Collaborator Symphonic Team

5 stars "Is that it? Is that all you get? Well, what more did you expect?"

The Last Battle is the first new Haze studio album in 25 years. They have finally created an album where the production values match the quality of their material and musicianship. This is clearly the band's greatest studio achievement. Haze still consists here of its three core members in Chris and Paul McMahon and Paul Chisnell who have been at it more of less consistently since the band's humble beginnings in the 1970's. But in recent years the line-up has been notably enhanced by the inclusion of Ceri and Catrin Ashton who play a plethora of instruments including flutes and fiddles. This addition have truly added a whole new dimension to the already effective sound of the band. During their 35 year career, Haze has been becoming better and better and better.

The album opens on a high note with the superb title track. This track is partly representative of the album as a whole with its very successful blend of Folk Rock, Prog Rock, and Hard Rock. Personally, I am very fond of this style. A live version of this song appeared on the band's recent live concert DVD In That Branch Of The Lake, but this new studio version is clearly the definitive one. It has been delightfully embellished with mandolin and fiddle. Over The River, For Real, Dragon Fly, The Barrister And The Bargast, Train, and The Edge Of Heaven could all previously be heard in live format on the excellent 30th Anniversary Shows live album. Train was originally a song by Treebeard (an acoustic Folk Rock band featuring all three core members of Haze) and The Edge Of Heaven was originally featured on the first album by World Turtle (the alternative moniker that the two McMahon brothers assumed in the 90's). But the oldest song here is The Red Room, written back in the 1980's and performed live at the time (a live recording is featured on the band's 10th Anniversary Show live album; now available on CD). Here it appears in studio form for the first time. There are some differences between the various versions of these songs, but it is hard to say which versions are the definitive ones. Whether you will prefer these studio versions probably depends on how you like live albums in general.

I especially like how the piano is used on Over The River (a superb song reminding slightly of classic Genesis), how synthesiser is used on Dragon Fly and several others, and The Red Room is driven by the great Hammond organ. The somewhat Jethro Tull-like The Barrister And The Bargast is another standout. The two lovely instrumentals on the album Silent Water and Balder And The Mistletoe are pure (progressive) Folk Rock and add to the appealing variety of the album. The latter tune is a traditional piece, apparently from Greenland. While there are certainly no weak tracks here, there are a couple of less than essential ones. Drummer Paul Chisnell (who made his final statement with this album before he went into retirement) takes the lead on Gray To Blue. Chisnell is the Ringo Star of Haze and this Beatles-esque Pop Rock song is different from the rest of the album. It is tasteful but clearly one of the least interesting parts of the album. Classic Rock Bar is pretty much what its title implies, though it has some very good folky parts. On Long, Long Gone the band goes heavy to reasonable effect.

Overall, I am prepared to give The Last Battle the top rating. It is not, however, all you need from this criminally overlooked band. But it is an excellent addition to many a Prog fan's collection and an essential companion to the live 30th Anniversary Shows that contains great versions of most of the band's best songs from throughout their long career.

 20th Anniversary Show by HAZE album cover Live, 1998
4.09 | 3 ratings

20th Anniversary Show
Haze Neo-Prog

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
Special Collaborator Symphonic Team

4 stars Out of the shadows and into the light

After their ten year anniversary, Haze disappeared and nothing was heard from them again in another ten years (with the exception of the compilation In The End: 1978-1988 released in 1993). But the embers kept glowing behind the scenes with the occasional spark in the form of two studio albums by Paul and Chris McMahon under the name of World Turtle in 1994 and 1997 respectively, and one album by Chris and Haze's sound engineer Warren Jacques under the name Von Daniken in 1995. Surprisingly the two McMahon brothers reunited with drummer Paul Chisnell in 1998 for the Haze's 20 year anniversary to perform and record this concert. The result was a live CD released by Cyclops Records in the same year featuring 11 strong tracks. The first 100 copies also came with a second bonus CD featuring the rest of the songs recorded that night. The original CD release was a limited edition and soon sold out, but the album (including the bonus disc) is now available as a double CD-R directly from the band with the original art work.

Even if they had not played together for ten years, they still pulled off a great performance (what mistakes there were has been relegated to the bonus disc). They did not have any new material at this point however since they had been inactive for the past ten years. As such, many of the songs featured here had already been recorded for the 10th Anniversary Show live album (which is also available as a double CD-R directly from the band). But the present album is clearly the better one with a more consistent set of songs and a stronger focus on the progressive side of the band.

On the main disc there are five songs taken from the best of the band's three 80's albums, Cellar Replayed. These are The Night, Seven Stones, Dig Them Mushrooms, In The Light, and Survive, all of which are excellent songs. The ten minute plus rendition of Seven Stones surprisingly features snippets of the organ riff from Uriah Heep's Rainbow Demon! Three tracks are taken from the Stoat & Bottle LP: The Vice, Shadows, and In The Universe, all of which sound better here than they did in their studio versions. From the 1984 debut LP comes Gabadon and The Hum both of which are slightly humorous in nature. The Hum is a great song while Gabadon is good but not more than good. Finally, Mountain is a bluesy hard rocker extended here to over nine minutes. Overall, a great live disc for which I award four stars (though it is not as good as the 30th Anniversary Shows album).

On the bonus disc we get another set of mostly good performances. Of special interest here is the superb The Exiles Song which has never been recorded in the studio and is thus something of a rarity. This version has much better sound than the live version that was featured as a bonus track on the Cellar Replayed CD, but this one is however an extended one which features a medley of Rock classics including Blue Oyster Cult's Don't Fear The Reaper! I hope they will record this great song in the studio some day. On this disc there are also covers of Strawbs' The Hangman & The Papist and Pink Floyd's Brain Damage/Eclipse. I find it a bit unnecessary for Haze to perform covers as they have so much good material of their own. On the intro to The Red Room the band are not perfectly synchronized but after a while they get it together (this one thus sounded better on the 10th Anniversary Show album). The bonus disc is overall less good than the main disc, but it is still very enjoyable in its own right.

 10th Anniversary Show by HAZE album cover Live, 1988
3.17 | 4 ratings

10th Anniversary Show
Haze Neo-Prog

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
Special Collaborator Symphonic Team

3 stars Can you hear the hum?

This live album recorded in 1988 marked the ten year anniversary of Haze's formation in 1978. It also marked the end of the first chapter of the band's history. Drummer Paul Chisnell announced his departure from the band on this gig and this left the future of the band in an uncertain state. Chisnell would eventually return to the fold, but it would be another ten years before they did anything again as Haze. The two McMahon brothers did however carry on alone in the 90's under the name of World Turtle. Haze is still going strong today and at the time of writing a new release is coming in just a few weeks, their first studio album since 1987's Stoat & Bottle.

The 10th Anniversary Show was originally released on double cassette as a fan club release in 1988, but was reissued on double CD in 2008. Both the performances and the sound are surprisingly good, they are clearly having fun on stage. The set list draws on the three albums the band released in the 80's, all of which have also been reissued on CD in the new millennium (including the EP The Ember which was included as bonus tracks on the C'est La Vie CD). But there are also several numbers here that did not appear on any of those albums, as well as a couple of covers. Several of the new songs at the time were later recorded for the first World Turtle album in 1994 and one of them (The Red Room) will appear in studio form for the first time on the new album The Last Battle in 2013. There is a credible cover of Strawbs' The Hangman And The Papist and Fallen Leaves surprisingly includes snippets of Led Zeppelin's Achilles Last Stand and Hawkwind's Hurry On Sundown. Cocaine was however a somewhat ill-advised choice!

This live album is a nice addition to any Haze collection and it is probably a better representation of the band's first ten years than the compilation album In The End: 1978-1988. Still, it is the least good of the band's three anniversary live albums. I would recommend newcomers to start with the much more recent 30th Anniversary Shows double album.

Thanks to the doctor for the artist addition.

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