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Magic Pie - Circus Of Life CD (album) cover


Magic Pie


Symphonic Prog

3.76 | 226 ratings

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Anthony H.
Prog Reviewer
3 stars Magic Pie: Circus of Life [2007]

Rating: 6/10

Circus of Life is the sophomore release from Norwegian progressive-rock/metal band Magic Pie. Following my disappointment with their debut Motions of Desire, I approached this album with tepid expectations. Magic Pie's decidedly modern take on AOR/metal-infused symph-prog had its charms, but it didn't do a whole lot for me otherwise. Unfortunately, this follow-up does little to improve things. The band's Dream Theater inspired metal influence takes center-stage here. While I have no problem with that sound, it sounds somewhat forced and cheesy here. Like its predecessor, this is an inconsistent work. There are some absolutely fantastic moments to be found here, but a large amount of the album fails to live up to these. I'm not sure if I like this album more or less than Motions of Desire; the highs are higher, but the lows are lower. I find myself unenthused while listening to this. There's not much here for me to sink my teeth into.

The 45-minute self-titled suite is the main focus of the album. "Circus of Life (Part I) - Welcome" starts things off quite nicely with strings, soft piano, and emotive vocals. "Circus of Life (Part II) - Freakshow" is a superb prog-metal instrumental with mind-blowing keyboard work. "Circus of Life (Part III) - What If?" brings back the Kansas-style AOR. There's some nice guitar work to be found on this track, but it's overlong and sterile-sounding as a whole. "Circus of Life (Part IV) - A Trick of the Mind" is a 21-minute epic that only partially succeeds. There are some incredible solo sections, but the anthemic chorus sounds like something out of Lynyrd Skynyrd. It doesn't manage to keep my attention throughout the entire duration. "Circus of Life (Part V) - The Clown" is a nice semi-acoustic ballad with good lyrics and enjoyable guitar work. While this is a good track, it's not terribly special. "Pointless Masquerade" is a relatively uninteresting track that doesn't introduce anything new to the album at all. The album closes with "Watching the Waters." This is a solid closer. The guitar work is excellent, and the songwriting is suitably climactic.

Magic Pie's second album has failed to sell me. This band seems to be a bit overly ambitious; they're trying to embrace a grandiose prog aesthetic, but such an aesthetic may be slightly beyond them. Many of these tracks feel tired. They repeat motifs ad-nauseum, to the point where good ideas get driven into the ground. There is talent here, but it's difficult to discern at points. With that being said, this is a decent album overall. The musicianship is superb, particularly the guitar and keyboard work. A few of these tracks are fantastic, particularly the first couple. Regardless, this is a middle-of-the-road prog-rock album that is undoubtedly unessential. Fans of the genre will be neither offended nor compelled by Circus of Life.

Anthony H. | 3/5 |


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