Now here’s a band that have flowered quite impressively since their already very accomplished 2014 album Past 21: Beyond the Arctic Cell. Boasting new members, new instrumentation, and an enriched direction, Mage is indebted to the band’s past, while being unconstrained by it.
Psychedelic explorations, drone-worship, emotive synths and orchestral flourishes, post-rock/metal structuring; these are just some aspects of the rich and multifaceted music that you’ll find on Mage. If you combine the Megaton Leviathan of old with elements of Neurosis, Boris, Soldat Hans, Promethean Misery, Disemballerina, Cult of Luna, Earth, and Jesu, you’ll have an idea of the paths that Mage treads. It is only an idea, however, and this is an album to be experienced on its own terms.
An album of depth and substance, the songs here glorify music that takes its time to be truly its own beast. Rather than providing a fast hit of instant gratification, Mage unfolds slowly over time to become completely immersive and utterly compelling. This is music to lose yourself to. Hell, sometimes it’s enough to bring a tear to your eye, without even really knowing why.
All of the music is superbly delivered, but I must single out two main components that, for me, are especially well-done; the vocals and the violin. The singing is luscious and expansive, both male and female vocals entwining with each other and the music to deliver an effortlessly emotive performance. The violin is sometimes a highlight streaking out of the songs with bright colour, while at others is truly enmeshed with the rest of the music, providing an additional layer of magnificent emotion. Both elements of this band are flawlessly rendered.
This is clearly material that has been worked on meticulously and with great love over a decent period of time. Crafted by people that obviously know a thing or two about how to create affecting music, Mage is only 42 minutes in length, but is so filled to the brim with quality material during this playing time that it feels like you’re getting double the amount of content.
Effortless, sensual, essential.