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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Magenta (Norway)

Songs for the Dead

Review by Gary Hill

First, this is not the band from the UK. This Magenta is based in Norway. Their sound is dark and rather Gothic. They have a lot of metallic leanings. The whole mix of sounds is decidedly progressive, though. I really love this album. It’s unusual, but very strong. I have to comment on the cover, too. I’m sure the similarities to Black Sabbath’s first album have to be intentional, but this one really ups the ante. It’s possibly the creepiest album cover I’ve ever seen.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2016  Volume 1 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Dance Macabre

This is an odd little introduction based on a carnival hawker.

Im Paradisum
This comes in dark and a bit strange. Yet, it’s atmospheric in a lot of ways. It pounds out with a metallic fury as it continues. Still, this is proggy and quite trippy. It’s more like space rock than it is anything else. The cut works through a number of changes. At times it powers through with very metal sounds. At other points, it drops to really mellow stuff. There is also a section that is soaring and quite definitely progressive rock. There are neo-classical elements at play at times, too.
Die Young

Although there are a lot of the same things going on here as the previous cut, this is much more of a mellow prog piece. It still has some darkness. Yet, it’s less oppressive and less metal. There are even hints of Beatles-like pop in this. It’s a great piece that elevates the set in yet another direction, really.

All Year Long
Heavy and dark, this is a really great merging of progressive music with metal. There are definitely electronic elements, too. While it’s heavy and reaches some metallic peaks, it is also atmospheric and dark in some cool ways. It’s such a powerful piece, both lyrically and musically. In fact, it’s one of my favorites on the disc, really.
Descending
Another amazing song, this really does a great job of merging both the metal and prog sounds into a unique tapestry. It’s dark, exotic and extremely effective.
Ghost
This one is almost electronic dance music. It doesn’t work as some of the others here, but is still pretty good. The very fact that it brings a completely different sound to the table makes it worthwhile. As the arrangement fills out later, it does get more progressive rock built into it.
The Pentagram
We’re back to the metallic progressive rock territory here. This is another powerful song on a disc that’s full of them. It’s not a huge departure in terms of style, but does land more in the melodic (and theatric) side of the equation. There are a lot of sound bites built into this.
Mirror
This does have a bit more of a metal edge at times than some of the others do. It love the mellower movements on this piece. Again, it’s not stylistically a huge change, but it’s a potent piece of music with a lot of character.
The Day I Die
Picked guitar brings this in with a dark balladic texture. Gregorian chant styled vocals join, bringing a bit of classical music to it. There are dark atmospheric elements at play, too. Some spoken vocals (in Latin, I think) join as the piece continues forward. It’s after the one minute mark before they move out into more of the moody prog we’ve gotten on the rest of the disc. Those Gregorian vocals show up at other times here, and this is one of the more stunning tracks here. It’s one of my favorites, too.
Only Death Is Real
Dark and quite metallic, the only real vocals on here sound like tortured wailing. This is weird, but also pretty cool.
 
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