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Black Haze

DNA

Review by Larry Toering

This is one of a few bands of the sort of power pop variety I've been given the opportunity to review in this issue and, it's coincidentally one of two from Portland, Oregon. Black Haze are a different animal to most in the area playing this style of rock, as they lean heavily in a more electronic direction than the majority. Not only that, but they have serious attitude to go with it, attitude of the hard rock nature that is. It's almost electronic metal that way, but I wouldn't go that far, simply because of the major pop sensibility and more modern feel. This is their five track EP on Black Pedal Records, full of said rocking attitude and electronic inflections. There are a few northwest bands of this caliber on my radar as mentioned, and they're all great, but Black Haze is definitely a leading one of originality and substance. Along with that, they’ve got just enough style to keep them in the power pop zone for a harder edged band.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2012  Volume 1 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Reaching For The Sky

This starts off so well that it can do nothing wrong. In fact, everything is alright and then some as it all opens like an ascending skyrocket. This is killer stuff indeed, with sharp tempo changes and some electronic dazzling with a little girl's voice going through just the right parts. As the track wears on it's obvious these kids can play with the best of them.

Never Let Go

A monster riff and infectious groove instantly establish this as one of the best on offer here. The vocals are excellent, as well, shouting in succession with all their might and then some. This is one of the more familiar sounding tunes, as they know how to get in the head that way. I can’t nail their influences, but it sounds like many crushing tunes I've heard on video games over the last decade. It’s something like Saliva with a much more pop vibe.

Dream

This begins with a spacey intro that quickly fades into a sharp riff and a big drum sound. The lyrics carry on about about dreaming and describing the views within. It's not far removed from the previous track, but the guitar kicks into crazy mode. What a bite this has!

Auto Zero

This finds them slowing it down just a bit. They maintain that slower mode throughout, yet go through some absolutely killer dynamic parts in the middle to the end. It's the most ear-catching number on offer, so far.

It's Over
This one is even easier to grab onto, as the final two tracks are the mellowest tunes on DNA. They don't miss anything by going into this tempo at all. In fact, it's just as enjoyable as the harder stuff on this excellent recording.
 
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