phazamhazePhazam Haze is the brain child of Alex Harvey, Gavin Dunlea and Ricky Lahart. I’ve had the pleasure of catching them live on a few occasions and now they’ve teamed up with Creamy Sonic Studios to give you the chance too.

The band have been active for the last few months and are currently preparing to release under the BOPA Records Label (Also home to the wonderful Vernon Jane), highly recommended to anyone who likes a bit of Primus or Queens of the Stone Age.

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REVIEW: Val Normal – Fly the White Flag of War


Val Normal – Fly the White Flag of War

The first thing you notice when you listen to Val Normal’s new album ‘Fly the White Flag of War’ is the bare all personal nature of the lyrics, they seem very biographical and they don’t hold back. This is a welcome attribute that’s missing from a lot of prog music nowadays. The opening track ‘Inked on Eye’ is solid, with a melodic harmony driven bridge that kicks straight in to a time shattering delay breakdown.

The title track opens with an almost Muse-esque riff and it starts to become clear that the band have really found their sound through relentless touring and hard graft (They’ve played a LOT of shows in the last 2 years.) Their brilliant d├ębut ‘Plans? What Plans?‘ showed flashes of the talent on display here but they’ve really defined it on this release.

Next up is ‘Clown the Spade’. This song is obviously very inspired by ASIWYFA but it holds its own, showing great maturity it’s arrangement and making good use of dynamics, a solid structure and a great vocal line. ‘Wall’ continues with the melody of ‘Clown the Spade’, so consider the two songs a pair. Musically, it acts as a welcome resolve to the tension built up in the last song. This respite is short lived though as it soon builds up in to a thundering coda which is sure to be a crowd favourite with its resounding sing along chorus line(BA DA DA DA DA). ‘As I stood questioning the bee’, the first instrumental track on the album, features a piercing repetitive riff and punching rhythms from the bass and drums. The second single, ‘Chewy Hair’, is an interesting commentary on our modern drug culture, told from the perspective of a begrudging party host. It covers its causes, effects, and the individuals role as participant and observer.

‘As they stood questioning the bee(Part 2)’ is another instrumental interlude with catchy riffs throughout. ‘Blue’ is the track most obviously influenced by Biffy Clyro, shifting seamlessly between harsh grizzly and soft melodic vocals like so much of their early work. ‘I cant believe its not Sargent M’ seems to draw a little influence from Dublin’s own BATS in parts, a sign of the healthy collaborative music scene we have here. I reviewed lead single ‘Pugman’ back in August, its a lesson in loop peddle use, featuring thickly layered guitar work. It also sees the band expanding their instrumentation to include some interesting violin work written and performed by Pixie Delamere. Next up is ‘,’ another lush instrumental break. The last track ‘Pennysqueezer’ is an exercise in self observation and evaluation, a glimpse into the reality that many of us who grew up in Ireland’s economic crisis feel part of. Fast forward to the end of the track for a nice surprise =].

Val Normal launch the album this Friday in the Button Factory, with support from the consistently brilliant Bitch Falcon, Punch Face Champions and New Secret Weapon. See you up the front!
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