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Magic Pie - The Suffering Joy CD (album) cover

THE SUFFERING JOY

Magic Pie

 

Symphonic Prog

3.89 | 333 ratings

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Anthony H.
Prog Reviewer
3 stars Magic Pie: The Suffering Joy [2011]

Rating: 5/10

The Suffering Joy is the third album from Norwegian progressive-rock band Magic Pie. Although I am an avid fan of symphonic progressive-rock, Magic Pie's metallic approach to the style hasn't managed to do much for me. The band's first two albums seemed forced and sterile to me, and this third effort doesn't correct these problems. Instead, it compounds them. The Dream Theater worship that took center-stage on Circus of Life continues here, to the point where the band seems to have lost a portion of their symph-prog sound in favor of a more metal-oriented approach. The first two Magic Pie albums weren't exactly exercises in restraint, but The Suffering Joy makes those look subtle in comparison. Just when you think that the album has run its course, the band throws another 15-minute track at you. I have absolutely no problem with long albums, and I love epic songwriting. However, this grandiose style seems to be a bit too much for Magic Pie.

"A Life's Work (Part I) - Questions Unanswered" opens the album with soft keyboard and some cheesy lyrics. "A Life's Work (Part II) - Overture" is a short instrumental with some nice keyboard work and heavy guitar, but it's almost criminally derivative of Dream Theater. "A Life's Work (Part III) - A Brand New Day" is short acoustic interlude that leads into the 17-minute grandiosity of "A Life's Work (Part IV) - The Suffering Joy." There are some undeniably impressive moments on this track, and the musicianship is spectacular. However, it's quite by-the-numbers overall. "Headlines" is one of the stronger tracks here. The synths sound excellent the guitar work is well-executed. Regardless, nothing terribly special is happening. "Endless Ocean" is a pleasant acoustic piece with very good vocals. "Slightly Mad" is the definite highlight of the album. The keyboard work is superb, and drumming is top-notch. Most importantly, however, the songwriting is cohesive and interesting. The guitar solo is a bit too shreddy for my tastes, however. "Tired" is the album's low-point. At 15 minutes, it's massively overlong and overblown. I was quite "tired" of this track by the time it was over. "In Memoriam" ends the album on the same unremarkable note.

Magic Pie are obviously a talented band, but their instrumental skill doesn't stop The Suffering Joy from being a tedious release. There simply isn't very much compelling or memorable material to be found here. It's a middle-of-the-road album in every sense of the term; there's nothing to be offended by, but there's also nothing to get excited about. Most of these tracks plod on past their conceivable capacity, with the band pulling the same tricks over and over again. There are high points, but they're not nearly as pronounced as the highlights of the previous two albums. This is a homogenous and fairly mediocre release that can easily be passed by.

Anthony H. | 3/5 |

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