Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Review: Magenta - Metamorphosis (2008)

A band's metamorphosis
Changing their route, Magenta released Metamorphosis which sounds darker and has a heavier mood than previous albums. 4 tracks, two over 20 minutes and two shorter ones, this release needs to be given proper listening and time to absorb it. Indeed, upon the initial 3-4 listening I wasn’t sure what to make of it and could not grasp the album as a whole and required more thorough sittings with the album. With subsequent “sessions” the music seemed to have found a favourable place in my head somewhere leading me to want more repeats of the album; I could then relate to the music more easily and enjoy it much more. Whereas in the beginning the tunes seemed plain and unconvincing, I could suddenly see their appeal. Moreover, I needed this extra exposure to the music to unveil the orchestration work and the small details in the songs that one can only notice upon repeated listening and with giving proper attention. I came to realize and appreciate the beauty of the melodies, the intricacy of the classical instruments mingled within the band’s playing and the structure of the songs which at first seemed be lacking.

The album seems to boast a heavier approach, sharper and polished. There are some very nice guitar solos, along effective guitar riffs and dominant bass lines.
The musicianship is excellent as far as I’m concerned, and the inclusion of the aforementioned classical instrumentation is a plus in my opinion as they add to the already rich sound of this album. But good musicianship is not a guarantee for a good and enjoyable album. But, as I wrote above, when I gave the album the proper amount of listening, the music “was able to touch my mind” in a way that made me hear it in a favourable way; Beautiful and well played melodies which have very nice intricacies and various parts with complexity and simplicity co-existing alongside in the same songs.

The music is in the symphonic-rock vein (however you like to define that), with some heavier parts is very pleasant, especially with Christina Booth’s vocals. There are some references to past prog-rock greats such as a quite direct Yes reference in the title song; I read other reviews of this and their past albums stating their derivative sound (which I understand is not something Rob Reed denies, in the sense that he is trying to compose in that style, not be a clone). I feel that while there are places in this album where one may hear similarities or influences from other prog-rock groups, there’s enough of the Magenta identity in the music to make it their own. They also manage to create a sort of mix of styles and sounds that make it sound more distinctively their own, while still being able to point out influences. Personally, I don’t find this issue to be any problem while listening, but I wanted to address.

One thing that I do like to point out is that I feel that while Christina’s voice is beautiful and powerful, the music could have benefited from a different vocal style; one that is more deep and rough. In combining Christina’s voice with that one, I feel a better outcome could have been reached. It seems to me that in several parts, such as the opening lyrics of the title song, Metamorphosis, a stronger, more aggressive voice may have done more justice or better service to the music. I don’t mean to belittle Christina’s voice at all; it’s just a matter of fitting a vocal style and sound to the music. There are other parts in the song in which her voice fits very well.

To rap this up I’ll say the song Metamorphosis is a fabulous song, with a catchy chorus, wonderful instrumentation and playing by all musicians, intense atmosphere, some cool complex hooks and great rocking out.

This album has been a fun experience getting to know it. If you would have asked me after 2-3 listens if I like it or would return to it (had I not needed to review it), I would have said no. However, more listens had me conquered by the album up to the point that I think it’s a great addition to a prog-rock collection.

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