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SEVEN

Magenta

 

Neo-Prog

4.08 | 244 ratings

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SouthSideoftheSky
Special Collaborator
Symphonic Team
2 stars Progressive sinners

Someone who knew that I was already a big fan of Yes recommended this album to me many years ago (possibly shortly after its release). My reaction when I heard the opening track, Gluttony (Seven is a conceptual album based on the seven cardinal sins), for the first time was that Magenta is a total Yes-clone. I did not listen further at the time as I had lots of other music to discover, primarily classic progressive Rock from the 70's. Now, after quite some time, my first impression still stands regarding Gluttony, it is indeed a heavily Yes- influenced track. They have even managed to reproduce the very special guitar-tone of Steve Howe on this track and also included some Chris Squire-like bass and typical Yes-like backing vocals! There is, however, also a very Gabriel-era Genesis-like passage with male vocals later in the same song. Like with Magenta's first album, this one too is thus more Retro-Prog than Neo-Prog. Following in the footsteps of the masters is not necessarily a sin in itself, however. That is, if you do it in the right way, with the right intentions and the rights determination, etc. Gluttony is actually a great track! In general though, Seven somehow fails to connect with me. I think that Magenta was more successful overall with their first work, Revolutions, and also the following Home is more appealing to me than the present album. The music on Seven has some of the same aspects that I found hard to accept on Revolutions, but fewer of the charms of that predecessor.

One cardinal sin committed here is connected to the sheer length of the album. The CD is filled to the brim, which means almost 80 minutes of music. Had this album been released back in the vinyl days, it would thus have been a double album. As such it is very ambitious and I think they bit off slightly more than they could chew this time!? Listening to the whole thing in one session is actually a rather tedious exercise for this reviewer, even if I clearly recognize the considerable talents and charms of the band. There is of course nothing wrong in itself with long albums if they are consistently enjoyable, but here almost all the seven tracks feel as if they have been extended beyond what was necessary to convey their messages. Seven tends to get a bit more-of-the-same somewhere in the middle and towards the end I just keep waiting for the album to end (even if the last two tracks are a bit better).

Envy is a more Renaissance-like song and features a typical big chorus. To my mind it all becomes a bit too grandiloquent and elegant (a problem I often have with Renaissance too). Still a good song, though. In Lust one can strongly notice the presence of The Vienna Symphony Orchestra which I think is really unnecessary and makes the sound more bombastic than necessary. The guitar melody is very strong in this song, but unfortunately the track as a whole overstays its welcome which is also true of Greed. In the latter, there is a line that goes "don't look now, I think it's a camera" that seems to be taken straight from Simon & Garfunkel's America (incidentally also covered by Yes). Anger is the shortest track of the album and indeed the only one that runs for less than ten minutes. Despite some refreshing acoustic guitar play, it is a rather forgettable ballad that does not sound angry in the slightest. I miss the wonderful acoustic link-pieces like Opus I and II from Revolutions.

Pride finally tends to pick things up again after a few slightly rambling tracks, but momentum is lost. Overall, while I have a great respect for Rob Reed and Magenta, Seven is not wholly satisfying for me. There are a couple of strong moments for sure, but on the whole I find it a bit too bombastic and orchestral, too long-winded and too derivative. Also, I think that the music is somehow a bit "shallow" and not dark enough for its subject matter which is, after all, the seven deadly sins! It was a good idea to make a concept album based on these sins, but the result does not make me lust for more. Don't get me wrong, Seven is certainly an essential disc for fans of Magenta and a decent addition to many a Prog collection. But it is not, in my opinion, the best place to start discovering the band and certainly not the place to start discover (modern) Prog in general. Rob Reed did more interesting and more rewarding music elsewhere, both with Magenta and Cyan.

I can only recommend this for fans and collectors

SouthSideoftheSky | 2/5 |

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