Anchorage based Hazia’s recently released debut album is ten tracks of indie rock that spans gothic moodiness to sugary sweet pop. While “Watch it Burn” doesn’t reinvent the wheel, it does a very fine job of recreating it.
The album begins with an ominous keyboard intro that would be right at home on the opening credits of “Twin Peaks.” Strings swell into a slow bombastic march of as the full band joins and eventually fades.
The first full track, “Social Disclosure” hits like a brick of dark ’80s goodness. Lead singer Andy Tholberg somberly croons over a danceable rhythm before kicking it up a notch with a huge singalong chorus.
Not letting things lag, “Sounds and Silences” comes out with a driving finger picking guitar lead straight into a song that can be at times seem like synth-heavy funeral dirge to a Gothic sermon as Tholberg’s golden voice sings about the taste of blood.
Based off of the first few tracks of “Watch it Burn” you might expect more of the same, but as the album progresses, you quickly realize that they have more than one trick up their sleeve. While they never fully abandon the dark tinged indie rock completely, there are moments of pleasant surprise throughout the album.
“Ordinary Life” comes out swinging with a poppy synth line that kills the assumption that these boys are all dark clouds and doom. In fact, whenever the synths took the lead in any song, it was hard not to give them all the attention.
The acoustic guitar driven track Home softens things up a bit and showcases Tholberg’s vocals that seem drip like molasses over a softly plucked guitar.
It’s hard not to be reminded of other artists while listening to “Watch it Burn,” but what it lacks in originality, it makes up for in execution. It’s musically dense without ever being self-aggrandizing. Guitarist Dan Zawodny, synth/keyboardist Cody Jones, drummer Greg Geddes, and synth bass/ synth player Billy Gibson all bring their A-game without taking away from each other’s playing (Gibson moved out of state after the recording, so bass player Wayne Dewide has stepped in to take his place).
Tonally and production wise it was easy to forget that this is a local release and not a big name band. “Watch it Burn” isn’t going to be for everyone, but when a local record comes along that’s this well executed, it’s worth paying attention to.
“Watch it Burn” can be found at akhazia.bandcamp.com