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Magenta - Metamorphosis CD (album) cover





3.70 | 199 ratings

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Symphonic Team
3 stars Inspired by a mountain in Norway?

In principle I should like this album better; it is darker, heavier with a harder edge and it features some nice folky touches. But the truth is that the compositions are not as strong this time around. Writing a 20 minute plus song is a daunting task - and a task that Magenta had not attempted since their debut album, Revolutions - and Metamorphosis features no less than two of those plus two shorter tracks. With Revolutions I was highly impressed by the compositions but disappointed by the light and shallow sound. Here, I am instead charmed by the new, darker sound the band produces but somewhat disappointed by the comparatively inferior quality of the compositions. The present album lacks the strong melodies of Revolutions, the best material from Seven and the excellent Home.

The compositional structure of the two long compositions, The Ballad Of Samuel Layne and the title track, is somewhat lacking. There are indeed several very good passages in both of these epic songs, but overall these compositions come across as a little bit fragmentary and skittish. Instead of a clear progression throughout, they tend to jump from one thing to another; a guitar solos there, a keyboard solo here, a vocal part, some bagpipes, some heavy riffing, another guitar solo, another vocal part, etc. without having a strong enough edifice to tie it all together into a sufficiently coherent whole. Don't get me wrong though, Metamorphosis is very enjoyable from beginning to end and overall a good album, but it is not particularly memorable for me. I don't think that I will return to this disc very often in the future.

It is interesting how much one can learn from listening to progressive Rock. Prekestolen, which is the title of one of the tracks, is apparently a mountain in Norway. It is unclear if and how the song is actually inspired by the mountain. The most fully realised composition here is though the six and a half minute closer Blind Faith.

In my opinion, Magenta found their own musical identity with the conceptual and storyline-based Home after the rather derivative first two studio albums. Revolutions and Seven were too close in style to Yes and to a lesser extent to other Symphonic Prog bands of the classic era. Metamorphosis, like the previous Home, is less derivative and more individual in style even if the influences still include the usual suspects of 70's Symphonic Prog in addition to more contemporary bands and artists. The darker sound and harder edge found here is probably inspired by the success of bands like Arena and Dream Theater. In general I think it works rather well, even if some parts come across as a bit forced. It is interesting how they change their sound with each new release - they have indeed gone through something of a Metamorphosis. Comparing the sleeve picture of the present album with that of Revolutions, the difference is striking: the bright image of Christina Booth in an elegant white dress on the backdrop of Stonehenge and the pinkish Magenta-logo have been replaced by an altogether more sinister image with much darker colours. The visual difference translates well to the changes in sound.

Metamorphosis has a total running time of just over 50 minutes which I think is very reasonable. The early albums by the band suffered from being too long. The band have learned their lessons well.

While this is not Magenta's best album, it is also not the worst. It is a good one for sure, but it also leaves something to be desired. It is a good addition, but certainly not essential listening for all Prog fans.

SouthSideoftheSky | 3/5 |


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