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Haze The Last Battle album cover
3.68 | 38 ratings | 4 reviews | 21% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 2013

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. The Last Battle (7:15)
2. Grey To Blue (4:25)
3. Over The River (5:54)
4. For Real (3:04)
5. Dragon Fly (5:32)
6. Classic Rock Bar (5:06)
7. Long, Long Gone (4:04)
8. The Barrister And The Bargast (5:41)
9. Train (4:10)
10. Silent Water (1:42)
11. The Edge Of Heaven (5:36)
12. Is That It? (7:37)
13. Balder And The Mistletoe (5:21)
14. The Red Room (6:43)

Total Time 72:42

Line-up / Musicians

Paul McMahon / vocals, electric, acoustic & classical guitars, bass, mandolin
Chris McMahon / bass, keyboards, 12 string acoustic guitar, bouzouki, vocals
Paul Chisnell / drums, percussion, vocals

Ceri Ashton / whistle, flute, clarinet, viola, cello
Catrin Ashton / fiddle, flute

Releases information

Released jointly by Cyclops Records and Gabadon Records on 25th March 2013

Thanks to SouthSideoftheSky for the addition
and to Tarcisio Moura for the last updates
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HAZE The Last Battle ratings distribution

(38 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(21%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(26%)
Good, but non-essential (39%)
Collectors/fans only (13%)
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)

HAZE The Last Battle reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
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.

Review by kev rowland
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.

Review by Warthur
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.

Review by kenethlevine
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.

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