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METAMORPHOSIS

Magenta

Neo-Prog


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5 stars Magenta delivers another stunning gem. With Metamorphosis they return strongly to the style of Revolutions. This aint no Neo- Prog, it's full out symphonic and probably the finest example of symphonic prog I've heard in the past 2 or 3 years. The album contains only 4 tracks but two (The Ballad of Samuel Layne and Metamorphosis) are 20 minutes+. And these epics definitely rise above the quality of the longer tunes on Home and The New York Suite. A true 5 star release of modern symphonic prog. My only complaint witgh this release it that it is too short. Gimme More!!

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Send comments to Trademark (BETA) | Report this review (#168683)
Posted Friday, April 25, 2008 | Review Permalink
2 stars I can't get into this album. The longtracks are too long. A bit of Yes here and there. Too much vocals and less melodic structures. In fact I find this album boring which is a shame because I love this band. I may be in the minority here but in my opinion this is Magenta's weakest album.

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Send comments to Achim (BETA) | Report this review (#168687)
Posted Friday, April 25, 2008 | Review Permalink
4 stars Wow. This album has blown my mind! Gorgeous compositions, beautiful soaring vocals, and jaw-dropping musicianship. What more could a classic prog fan want?

Magenta wear their influences proudly on their sleeve. You can tell immediately that they are huge fans of Yes. The bass and guitar are particularly influenced by Chris Squire and Steve Howe, so much so that if I didn't know better, I would think it was Chris and Steve playing. The female vocals will remind others of Renaissance, and there are also a few passage that remind me of Genesis, but this band is far more than the sum of its influences. They have a personality and attitude all their own.

The amazing thing about this album is that it can sound so fresh and contemporary even though it is so heavily influenced by prog from 30 years ago.

I've only been listening to it for a few hours, but I can already say that Metamorphosis is one of my favorite prog albums of all-time.

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Send comments to peskypesky (BETA) | Report this review (#171289)
Posted Saturday, May 17, 2008 | Review Permalink
Tarcisio Moura
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars If you´re a bit disappointed by Magenta latest releases, like Home or Speachless (good CDs, but a little soft), fear no more. They are now back to their 70´s symphonic prog roots in full power (thank God!). I still don´t know why this group is labeled here as neo prog since they have nothing neo on their sound: it´s symphonic prog all over. Anyway, they are truly back in form and this is by far their most rewarding relased since their masterpiece Seven.

The music is still very much influenced by Yes (specially guitar and bass parts), while some celtic and Pink Floyd overtones are now featured through Metamorphosis as a whole. A little early Mike Oldifield is also felt (on Prekestolen). But make no mistake, Magente has a sound of their own and it is quite unique, Thanks to Rob Reed´s excellency on songwriting and Christina Booth´s great vocal work. Also of note are Stephen Fry´s fine guitar lines and Tim Robinson´s drumming.

The music is varied and cohesive, even though there are just four tracks (two 20 minute+ epics and two short tunes). Production and mixing are top notch. The only down side on this album is its short time: 53 minutes for a band like this is not enough, you´re left wanting more. Well, I guess you can´t get everything.

Metamorphosis put them back on track and reminds me a lot of their fine debut Revelations. Not as startling as Seven, but a very strong showcase of one of England´s best symphonic prog bands around. Highly recommended.

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Send comments to Tarcisio Moura (BETA) | Report this review (#171722)
Posted Tuesday, May 20, 2008 | Review Permalink
5 stars Okay, call me a fan boy. This will be my third Magenta review and my third one awarding all five stars. When and if I review Revolutions, I will probably go with four. Magenta is one of those bands that anytime I put any of their proper studio albums on, I am one happy guy. Very few bands hold the sway over me like Rob Reed and company do. And Metamorphosis stands right alongside Seven as a masterpiece in my view. And if Home put you off the band a bit, now is the time to come back into the fold.

People complain about Reed ripping off previous prog bands even though he freely admits his intent. His goal is to come up with new songs in the old school vein; a vein that many of us embrace and surely would enjoy more of if done right. However, he tried to get away from the comparisons this time while still maintaining much of his signature Magenta sound. And I believe he did that. You want progression? You have it here. You want more of a hard edged sound while still maintaining the beauty of the predecessors? Check. You want two gorgeous epics that leave you wanting more? It is on here. And throw in Christina's ratcheting up her vocals to even greater heights than before and you have an essential album.

Don't be put off by the cover; this is not metal, although Reed does incorporate a few guitar passages that push the music into that realm for short bursts. Combine that with a higher percentage of heavier prog than in past albums and you have to hold onto your seat for the relatively short 52 minute ride. The two epics really pack a punch but allow for the occasional breather. These interludes are areas where Reed's ability to craft melodies that few can match are on display. The two shorter songs are also more laid back and provide nice contrast to the heavy epics. Reed also uses strings liberally and to great effect. These really throw into argument as to why Magenta is considered Neo-Prog on PA. The strings lend a strong air of a symphony to the music and buttress the thought that perhaps the band's category should be moved. Chris Fry continues his maturation on lead guitar and has really become one of my underrated favorites playing today. The production is top rate. And I have to add that it should take no less than 4-5 plays before the album will take hold.

The lyrics on the album have been touted as being deep and a bit disturbing but I have as yet to delve deeply into them.

Hey, I'm not fooling myself into thinking I can convert the masses to my way of thinking with this band. They seem to have a love 'em or hate 'em quality about them and the haters just can't seem to come to grips with what Reed is doing. I can live with that, although sometimes it can be a hard pill to swallow when someone has their favorite band dismissed. All I can say is that if you have enjoyed anything form Magenta's back catalogue, this is a no-brainer purchase.

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Send comments to johnobvious (BETA) | Report this review (#172033)
Posted Friday, May 23, 2008 | Review Permalink
erik neuteboom
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars

Magenta is an UK formation that doesn't sound original but their melodic 24-carat symphonic rock is presented very pleasantly and professionally. In 2001 they released a double debut CD entitled Revolutions, seven years later Magenta has made their fourth studio album Metamorphosis. Again the influences are very obvious, especially the Seventies Yes sound featuring guitar in the vein of Steve Howe and bass work with strong hints from Chris Squire.

The new album contains four tracks, two have a running time of more than 20 minutes and the other two alternate between 3 and 7 minutes. To me those long compositions sound more as a jam with lots of interesting ideas than an elaborate song with head-and-tail: a wonderful part with Grand piano and vocals, bombastic keyboards with heavy guitar riffs, exciting solos on guitar and keyboards and howling guitar and lush synthesizers in The Ballad Of Samuel Layne and a cascade of shifting moods with fiery wah-wah guitar, Floydian inspired guitarwork with Hammond organ support and great interplay between guitar and keyboards in the titletrack. Remarkably is the blend of the Uilleann pipes (bagpipe sound), this gives a very tasteful folky flavor to the music. The two shorter songs are more structured: a strong build-up with beautiful vocals and varied keyboard work and Uilleann pipes in Prekestolen (3.43) and a climate that shifts between mellow and fiery (also featuring soaring keyboards and the sound of a steel-guitar) with a compelling final part delivering lush keyboards in Blind Faith (6.01).

You know what to expect from Magenta, if you like melodic symphonic rock and you don't have a problem with a derivative sound, I am sure the new album CD will please you! My rating: 3,5 stars.

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Send comments to erik neuteboom (BETA) | Report this review (#172338)
Posted Tuesday, May 27, 2008 | Review Permalink
tszirmay
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Crossover Team
4 stars Metamorphosis indeed! The previous "Home" and companion "NY Suite" had some fine music on it yet there was somehow a spark missing, all pundits seemingly agreeing that this was a "down elevator" from the majestically ambitious "Seven". It's as if the solidification of the band's personality had homogenized the once overt Yes-isms and perhaps diluted the fire that burns inside all prog musicians. So, the metamorphosis occurred by refocusing on the three pillars of what makes or should make Magenta such a progressive force: the multi-instrumental genius of Robert Reed, the blistering fretwork from Chris Fry and the rather impressive vocal talents of Christina Booth, surely already among the top female progressive singers ever. When leafing through the deep red cover booklet and perusing the inner artwork, the change becomes self-evident: while this is a Magenta album, it could easily have been a Reed/Booth/Fry project, as these three components clearly make the project tick. That drummer Tim Robinson is an excellent time keeper there is no doubt and that Martin Rosser still provides "detuned guitar", they are now respected and trusted sidemen, while Reed takes over the bass duties once held by Matthew Cohen. For this rebirth album, the universally respected Troy Donockley of Iona fame makes a guest appearance on magical Uilleann pipes as well as a five piece string section of 2 violins, 2 cellos and a viola. So what have these musicians from Wales come up with? Lots of swooping vocals, tons of whistling synthesizers and massive doses of electric guitar sorties. A massively appealing "up elevator" opus that doesn't quite nail you to the floor right away, slowly weaving an intriguing spell that finally succeeds in willing intoxication. I guess when you kick off an album with a 20 minute slow burning epic, "The Ballad of Samuel Layne" (any relationship with Floyd's Arnold Layne, by any chance?), a three part suite full of painful lyrics about the dysfunction of war, Christina singing the role of a soldier's waiting girlfriend/wife, "the War Bride's Prayer", pleading for his safe return, fearful of the possible danger of her man's lost mind. The third part is the Soldier's Prayer, a solitary infantryman looking for some sanity in a desert gone crazy, desperately holding on to the concept of love, suddenly aware of its crucial importance. Musically, this has to be one of their finest moments, with a multitude of spirited expressions from all involved. The final minutes are orchestral and grandiose, to say the least. "Prekestolen" is a brief interlude, featuring Troy's bright Irish pipes, preparing the 23 minute whopping title track which is even better than the opener. "Metamorphosis" is arguably the best Magenta piece ever, a symphonic extravaganza that shimmers, glimmers, simmers and then explodes into a myriad of expressive moments of absolute gratification. The guitar work is splendid, at times bluesy and gentle, then suddenly veering into virulent and explosive, a little wah here and wah there. Rob contents himself in applying vast synthesized colorations, an occasional keyboard solo to keep the wild guitar at bay. His bass work is exemplary, keeping everything anchored quite nicely. Vocally, Christina slings a few exalted bellows into the mix, a very contemporary feel to a highly symphonic architecture. Again here, the final few minutes are breathtaking with a spiraling guitar swerve into space. The dreamy beauty of "Blind Faith" brings this masterful record, occasional harsh guitar riffs and all, to a conclusive and satisfying end, aided by some modern trippy beats, a slithering and dizzying vocal by the brilliant Ms Booth, perhaps pointing towards a more futuristic style, eventually. Consistent stuff from these proggers, please continue. Very close to "Seven", which remains a big personal favorite but with repeated listens in the future, it may just metamorphose into a 5 star classic. In the meantime, 4.5 purplish-red asteroids.

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Send comments to tszirmay (BETA) | Report this review (#172859)
Posted Monday, June 02, 2008 | Review Permalink
avestin
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars (Originally posted and reviewed for Progressive Ears)

Changing their route, Magenta released Metamorphosis which sounds darker and has a heavier mood than previous albums. 4 tracks, two over 20 minutes and two shorter ones, this release needs to be given proper listening and time to absorb it. Indeed, upon the initial 3-4 listening I wasn't sure what to make of it and could not grasp the album as a whole and required more thorough sittings with the album. With subsequent "sessions" the music seemed to have found a favourable place in my head somewhere leading me to want more repeats of the album; I could then relate to the music more easily and enjoy it much more. Whereas in the beginning the tunes seemed plain and unconvincing, I could suddenly see their appeal. Moreover, I needed this extra exposure to the music to unveil the orchestration work and the small details in the songs that one can only notice upon repeated listening and with giving proper attention. I came to realize and appreciate the beauty of the melodies, the intricacy of the classical instruments mingled within the band's playing and the structure of the songs which at first seemed be lacking.

The album seems to boast a heavier approach, sharper and polished. There are some very nice guitar solos, along effective guitar riffs and dominant bass lines. The musicianship is excellent as far as I'm concerned, and the inclusion of the aforementioned classical instrumentation is a plus in my opinion as they add to the already rich sound of this album. But good musicianship is not a guarantee for a good and enjoyable album. But, as I wrote above, when I gave the album the proper amount of listening, the music "was able to touch my mind" in a way that made me hear it in a favourable way; Beautiful and well played melodies which have very nice intricacies and various parts with complexity and simplicity co-existing alongside in the same songs. The music in the symphonic-rock vein (whatever that is), with some heavier parts is very pleasant, especially with Christina Booth's vocals. There are some references to past prog-rock greats such as a quite direct Yes reference in the title song; I read other reviews of this and their past albums stating their derivative sound (which I understand is not something Rob Reed denies, in the sense that he is trying to compose in that style, not be a clone). I feel that while there are places in this album where one may hear similarities or influences from other prog-rock groups, there's enough of the Magenta identity in the music to make it their own. They also manage to create a sort of mix of styles and sounds that make it sound more distinctively their own, while still being able to point out influences. Personally, I don't find this issue to be any problem while listening, but I wanted to address.

One thing that I do like to point out is that I feel that while Christina's voice is beautiful and powerful, the music could have benefited from a different vocal style; one that is more deep and rough. In combining Christina's voice with that one, I feel a better outcome could have been reached. It seems to me that in several parts, such as the opening lyrics of the title song, Metamorphosis, a stronger, more aggressive voice may have done more justice or better service to the music. I don't mean to belittle Christina's voice at all; it's just a matter of fitting a vocal style and sound to the music. There are other parts in the song in which her voice fits very well.

To rap this up I'll say the song Metamorphosis is a fabulous song, with a catchy chorus, wonderful instrumentation and playing by all musicians, intense atmosphere, some cool complex hooks and great rocking out.

This album has been a fun experience getting to know it. If you would have asked me after 2-3 listens if I like it or would return to it (had I not needed to review it), I would have said no. However, more listens had me conquered by the album up to the point that I think it's a great addition to a prog-rock collection.

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Send comments to avestin (BETA) | Report this review (#176032)
Posted Thursday, July 03, 2008 | Review Permalink
Gatot
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars I agree with Tarcisio Moura that when you were bit disappointed (including myself) with Magenta previous "Home" album, you should not worry with this "Metamorphosis" album as, I think, the band has returned to its form. I might say that this album is in a good comparison with first two albums "Revolutions" (2001) and "Seven" (2004). It took four years for the band to come back to their original creativity even though the music of Magenta is nothing original. There was "Home" in between two excellent albums "Seven" and "Metamorphosis". The central mastermind of Magenta is Rob Reed and I think most of you would agree with me that this latest release by Magenta is much better than "Home".

Back to their original concept .

There are basically two epic tracks "The Ballad Of Samuel Layne" (20:17) and "Metamorphosis" (23:15) that build this album plus two short tracks "Prekestolen" and "Blind Faith". The first time I played this album, I was not hooked right away especially on the melody that did not seem to catch my attention. However, I did believe that the composition was good as the music moved beautifully from one passage to another in natural way. I finally found what inhibit me for enjoying the music, it's basically my expectation that the melody should flow something that I want and each passages must have catchy elements like Marillion did in "Misplaced Childhood" where every piece of music is catchy. But when I gave up this expectation, it grew on me gradually and until four spin I could sense the music nicely.

Like "The Ballad Of Samuel Layne" (20:17), it indicates that they can write and perform excellent epic where the styles are different from one passage to another. I can sense the energy of Christina in moving the music energetically accompanied by excellent combination of notes produced by keyboard, guitar and accentuated by drums. The first 6 minutes of the track demonstrates how Christina is one of the best prog vocalist. The music flows dynamically from one passage to another with great intertwining roles of keyboard solo as well as guitar. One thing I observe excellent is the bass guitar and drumwork. All in all when I play the album loud, I can nanturally enjoy the music from start to end.

"Prekestolen" (03:43) is also a nice track and it does not show that this is a filler because I expected that this would be. "Metamorphosis" (23:15) is an excellent epic which starts grandiose with soft guitar solo followed by a blast of music that brings Christina's voice enters the epic. What happen is then a nice musical riffs by guitar overlaid beautifully with an electric orchestration. There are accentuation of the music during this track with some musical breaks that reminds me to ELP and Yes. Bass guitar playing reminds me to those played by Chris Squire of Yes. The long sustain keyboard work at the back in the vein of Yes's "Heart of The Sunrise" makes the music sounds truly symphonic. There asre passages with stunning keyboard work. There are some passages with spacey keyboard effects. Drumming s also great! The album concludes nicely with "Blind Faith" (6:01) which has acoustic guitar work. But later the music includes electric guitar riffs.

Overall, this album is better than pervious "Home" (2006) and deserves a four star rating. Keep on proggin' ..

Peace on earth and mercy mild - GW

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Send comments to Gatot (BETA) | Report this review (#178231)
Posted Saturday, July 26, 2008 | Review Permalink
ZowieZiggy
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars Is there really a metamorphosis in Magenta's music ? Let's see.

During the short "Prekestolen", the addition of Troy Donockley (uilleann pipes) gives a certain air of prog folk music. He was already playing with the band on their previous release as a guest, but has now fully integrated the band. A fine tune.

The other short song has some Mostly Autumn flavour, even if at times it sounds somewhat heavy; but the guitar work is really close to Josh's one. Christina is always as charming and her voice here is wonderful. The melody is excellent as well. A very good song too.

Now, about the two epics. The band already produced several ones of that kind (four on their debut "Revolutions" which was a double CD) and is used to release long compositions (ten+ minutes). But they tend to be very much (too much actually) derivate from the Yes sounds.

And it is exactly the same when you listen to opening number "The Ballad Of Samuel Layne". Sounds as if you're listening to "Tales." or alike. Only the pipes (again) adds this little originality touch. Throughout these twenty minutes, you'll get some Howe related guitar, and other "Yes" sounds. Not really original to say the least; but pleasant. Even Gilmour is revisited once in a while.

The title track is just a copy "The Ballad.". Fine melodies though, this song reminds me of "Renaissance", "Mostly Autumn", "Yes" of course and again "Floyd". And even if this song is very pleasant I can't really feel overwhelmed by this lack in personality. But this was already the case with their first album and I guess that there are little chances that the band would ever drastically evolve in a more creative direction .

IMHHO, the best songs are the short ones. But they only last for about ten minutes.In all, it is a good album (as were the previous four ones from the band). Three stars. I can't really see any metamorphosis here.

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Send comments to ZowieZiggy (BETA) | Report this review (#179338)
Posted Sunday, August 10, 2008 | Review Permalink
Nightfly
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Rock Progressivo Italiano Team
3 stars Magenta have been making easy to listen to Prog in the Symphonic vein for some time now, Metamorphosis being their fourth album. While I enjoy their music by Prog standards it's usually fairly light and undemanding with pleasant melodies in part down to Vocalist Christina Booth's lovely angelic tones. On Metamorphosis in many ways things remain the same musically but paradoxically in contrast the lyrics visit darker places with an overriding sense of death prevailing in them. Perhaps not quite a concept album but there does seem to be this theme of death running through the 4 tracks. Yes only 4 tracks but 2 of them are epics of 20 minutes or longer.

The first of these epics is The Ballad of Samuel Layne which is about a soldier going off to war to die leaving his bride behind; Perhaps the First World War? Despite already stating the easy listening style nature of Magenta's melodies, there is an attempt and not just on this track to make the music, at times at least match the darker lyrical qualities. In fact on this track, the title track (the other epic) and Blind Faith there are a few moments where the guitars are metallic in nature but I stress, a few. On Metamorphosis Christina's vocals while still retaining their sweet charm do successfully attempt to reach the depths of the lyrics where necessary. Much of the time though it's business as usual, with the lush keyboards and cleaner guitar of mainman and multi-instrumentalist Rob Reed taking a front seat. A tip of the hat to Lead Guitarist Chris Fry who does a good Steve Howe impression with some tasty soloing.

The 2 longer pieces are no doubt the highlight of the album but Prekestolen and Blind Faith are both enjoyable enough, the former having the distinction of featuring Uillean Pipes for added colour. Blind Faith is the better of the 2 featuring a particularly strong performance from Christina and musically having an enjoyable climatic build.

Metamorphosis is overall a very good album which I enjoyed very much though without being totally blown away by it. If you've enjoyed any of Magenta's music in the past it's one you'll certainly want to at least hear if not own but ultimately unlikely to convert anyone who hasn't succumbed to their charms in the past. Well worth 3 ˝ stars.

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Send comments to Nightfly (BETA) | Report this review (#182578)
Posted Tuesday, September 16, 2008 | Review Permalink
3 stars Good melodies, sweet vocals and good album cover............... so what's wrong ?

I have been listening to this album, trying to find out why it does neither makes my heart strings or my brain cells sing it's praise. The reason is that I have been listening to every other Magenta album. Albums I really like. But I frankly Magenta's formula a bit............... well, overused. What do we get here ?

Nice vocals Nice guitars Nice keys Nice mid-tempo melodies No surprises No variations

The Magenta code

Add some elements from the Corrs (yes, that annoying sweeter-than-honey wholesome family pop act from Ireland) and some heavy guitars. Then you have Metamorphosis. That and two short songs and two long songs. One strangely enough with a Norwegian title. Has Magenta jumped on the Norwegian Black Metal band wagon ? Probably not, but I think it is strange. In particular when this song is full of Irish instruments and influences of Irish folk music and The Corrs. Sorry, but you should check your maps better next time. OK, the song, Prekestolen, is a good song. It is a nice song. The same goes for the rest of this album.

Everything is nice here and Magenta is a wholesome band. It is impossible to dislike this album and this band. They are nice. Nice as in nice, meaning nice. For me, that is not enough.

I awaits their new live album with both trepidation and interest. I hope it is not a nice album.

3 stars

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Send comments to toroddfuglesteg (BETA) | Report this review (#187352)
Posted Wednesday, October 29, 2008 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars I feel a little like i'm at a disadvantage when reviewing this album, having only heard the EP "Broken". This is certaily darker and heavier than the music that was found on that EP. King By-Tor made a good point when reviewing FROST's latest release, that a lot of Neo-Prog bands are becoming darker and heavier. It's a trend that is developing right in front of our eyes (ears). Avestin alluded to the fact that at times this album may have been served better with a different vocalist and I agree. He and I also agree that it's not that Christina isn't a great vocalist, but I certainly feel that her voice (at times) doesn't fit this style at all.

"The Ballad Of Samuel Layne" has an interesting intro before we get some strings and even some uilleann pipes courtesy of IONA's Troy Donockley. It takes a while for the song to really get going. I'm not a fan of the backup vocals but the scorching guitar is fantastic 6 1/2 minutes in. A calm follows before it kicks back in heavily before 8 minutes. The song continues to change and evolve and Troy is back 22 minutes in. "Prekestolen" is an actual cliff on a mountain in Norway. It opens with the sound of a recorder in this mellow track. Strings help out as do the uilleann pipes again. Of course Christina's vocals lead the way.

"Metamorphosis" is my favourite track on here. I like the chunky bass and the excellent guitar solos that come and go.The mood and tempo shifts many times throughout this epic. "Blind Faith" opens with some cool sounding synths as a steady beat comes in. The song kicks in before 1 1/2 minutes and after 3 minutes. Nice guitar 5 minutes in. String on this one too. The song ends with a male voice saying "Wake Up". If only that were possible. Sorry, my mind is somewhere else right now (haha).

Tszirmay feels that with more listens his rating may go up, and I feel the same way. Right now though it's 3.5 stars from yours truly.

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Send comments to Mellotron Storm (BETA) | Report this review (#192532)
Posted Tuesday, December 09, 2008 | Review Permalink
Marty McFly
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Errors and Omissions Team
3 stars Well, this album is some kind of disappointment, the whole first part of The Ballad of Samuel Layne consists of unmelodic, weirdly composed sounds. And one of the biggest advantages (or good things if you wish), Christina's voice, means not much here, just screaming in not much interesting way. This is improved in second half, but not much. I'd like to say some positives here, but either they're not here, or I can't see/hear/feel them.

"Seven" had few tracks about 10 minutes long and it worked. But 20-23 is just too much for too little they're offering. After all, this is just average Magenta album, nothing special, which is sad. Irish elements are welcomed here, nice change. And they fit in whole music feeling perfectly. And Metamorphosis again, seems like re-using of same pattern, but without something special, catchy, some element which is trying to get your attention, attract you, promising new uncharted frontiers of musical experience. Nope, just normal music. Even not good, because good music is pleasant to listen, but this is boring. And I though (after seven deadly sins) that just her voice and this kind of music is enough to make anything.

3(+), for quite empty and unrealized album. I don't like doing this. But it's Magenta and has its moments.

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Send comments to Marty McFly (BETA) | Report this review (#244073)
Posted Sunday, October 11, 2009 | Review Permalink
progrules
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars This (so far) latest release by Magenta isn't really a generally accepted great work looking at the present rating of 3,57. And that's strange because I consider it their best effort albeit that I still have to check out Home. Revolutions is also a strong release in my opinion whereas "Seven" I was at least a bit ambivalent about as it is their supposed (near) masterpiece and generally considered magnum opus by most. It just shows that there is no general truth about a piece of art (which I consider most prog records). I do notice by the way that more neo minded reviewers really do appreciate this album and those who are usually more into other subgenres rate it lower. So there you go, it's probably the analysis for this unevenness. You have to be a neo/symph fan for this band and album to appreciate it.

Anyway, about Metamorphosis now: It's an album with four songs: two large epics, a very short song and a medium length one. First epic (The Ballad of Samuel Layne) offers all an epic can offer me: great composition, variation, nice instrumental bits and cohesion as well. No critics ? Actually no, it's terrific according to me though it's not the very best I ever heard but that has to be taken literally. (I'm an epic collector so I have an enormous list of comparable efforts and then this one scores almost towards the very highest league I can think of). The following statement will tell you enough probably: when I thought the epic was halfway when I recently listened it was already near the end so then you might say: time flies when you're having fun. 4,5*.

Next is the short Prekestolen a nice folky tune thanks to the uilleann pipes by Troy Donockley. It's the sort of song Reed also produced on his Creeping Vine album in his Cyan period. It works very nice is great for the variation. 3,25*.

Third is the title track, second epic and longest song on the album. Same as the opener also this one is pretty energetic and far from boring. Maybe the composition is even slightly better though overall the score for this one will be the same. Robert Reed has surpassed himself once again here. Christina does a much better performance on this album than on Seven where I found her slightly annoying at certain points also due to poor lyrics. On this song (and entire album by the way) I'm not annoyed or disappointed by any means. It's another great track and like I said another 4,5*.

Blind Faith is the closing track clocking about 6 minutes and is no match for the two epics. It more or less goes on in the same style but it's simply too short to reach the same impressive level. Good song nevertheless with some surprisingly heavy guitar. 3,75*.

I respect others opinions but I have no idea where the low ratings come from, this album is close to a masterpiece I believe. It's just not there I feel and therefore I will have to round down to four stars but that's the very least it deserves. Well done Magenta !

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Send comments to progrules (BETA) | Report this review (#249031)
Posted Sunday, November 08, 2009 | Review Permalink
4 stars What would happen if you mix Yes with some elements of Renaissance and spice things up very slightly with an harder edge. You would get this.

And THIS, is a good thing! I really like this album right after the first listen. The Steve Howe like guitars and some of the bass really reminded me of Yes during their best era. The presence of female vocals and some and the way the music was structured really felt like I was listening to Renaissance.

Does it lack originality based on the above? Not really in my opinion. Listen to "The Ballad Of Samuel Layne" in between the 8 and 10 mins mark and you won't hear too much to remind you of Renaissance of Yes. There is nice addition of strings (cello, violin) here and there. The mood seems to be darker at moment, the music sometimes gets a little heavier/edgier. Being a metal-prog lover, I sometimes wish they would push a little farther in that direction. It would have made this CD even more interesting.

There is plenty to like here. It is my only album from them and I will likely look at their previous releases. My favourite here is "Blind Faith". The others songs are also very good. Final Rating: 4 stars!

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Send comments to bluegecko (BETA) | Report this review (#251767)
Posted Thursday, November 19, 2009 | Review Permalink
Negoba
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Beautiful Female Fronted Pop-Prog

Magenta is no longer one of the new faces on the scene, just as neo-prog has not been new for decades. This doesn't stop both from still having plenty of life, and providing a great listening experience. METAMORPHOSIS is Magenta's latest, a beautifully produced album featuring the work of singer Christina Booth and songwriter / keyboardist Rob Reed. Booth's vocals are sweet and clear, with just a bit of Delores O'Riordan (Cranberries) flavor from the Isles. Reed's songwriting is extremely mature and tight, and his keys range from simple piano to big synth sounds only slightly cleaned up from their 70's origins. Similarly, guitarist Chris Fry plays great renditions of Rush's Alex Lifeson, Genesis' Steve Hackett, and allusions to Steve Howe, all polished and precisely executed.

METAMORPHOSIS consists of two 20+ minute epics and two standard length tunes. Both epics are strong with loads of the ear candy that prog fans love, but there is a little lack of development of tension. Modern production techniques both give and take from this album, giving a lush, but minimally dynamic, sound. Of the epics, my preference is the title tune, which simply grabs me a little more effectively on an emotional level. It comes out swinging in a powerful three before becoming more syncopated and complex. A quiet strummy mid-section with Gilmourish lead fills is a nice contrast. Though the dynamics are still a little even during the majority of the sections, the tempo shifts add a greater sense of variety and tension. There are also a few hummable melodic motifs that give the song a firm identity. The short songs include a Celtic-prog delight and a relatively straight pop song.

My overall impression of this album is that it's one of the better typical modern prog albums I've heard. Everything is done here with skill, polish, and even joy. I don't expect big surprises or risks from neo-prog, and as long as the listener knows that going in, this is a pleasure to listen to. 3-4 star effort rounded up because I'm in a good mood and this music is making me happy right now.

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Send comments to Negoba (BETA) | Report this review (#269311)
Posted Tuesday, March 02, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars IF you like female fronted bands with impressive vocals, emotions over complexity, grand finales that gives you goose bumps, modern production and sound, long compositions... then this album is for you and you might call it a masterpiece.

IF you prefer complex music with lots of breaks and fast changes, million notes-a-second, vintage keyboards, eclectic albums with extremely varied compositions... then this album is probably not for you and you'll call it a total flaw.

In my case it's been a grower and I will award it not less than four stars. This is a dark album and in that sense the strange album cover evokes it well. But the music itself is not sinister at all. This is beautiful music very well done.

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Send comments to phillihp (BETA) | Report this review (#290019)
Posted Monday, July 12, 2010 | Review Permalink
lazland
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars From 2008, this is the latest release from the very important neo prog band Magenta, and is one that certainly makes you hope that the promised new material will finally arrive in 2011.

As with previous releases, this is a band that wears its influences on its sleeve, so with the opening epic track, The Ballad Of Samuel Layne, we get a massive slice of music that, in parts, could very easily have fitted into any Yes or Renaissance album. It's very good, but, to these ears, just too long, meandering, and certainly varying in quality to attain any kind of masterpiece epic status.

I adore the shorter track, Prekestolen, which follows. This is a fantastic track which takes its influence directly from Mike Oldfield's more New Age material, but turns it into something unique and flowing. The pipes, and a very strong vocal performance by Christina Booth, make this a joy. Actually, I believe the band might be well advised to include more such music in the new material due this year, for it would definitely attract those who have a massive aversion to pure neo prog.

The title track itself is a massive slice of music running at just over 23 minutes. This is far more consistent and flowing than the opening track, and a mark of this is that you, at no stage, feel that the track is meandering. The bass work is about as good as you will get outside of a certain Mr Squire, and, of course, passages scream Yes at you, including some quite phenomenal keyboard work. However, to merely describe it as Yes influenced would, I feel, somewhat demean it, in that the music flows into many different moods and influences, including a very strong Floydian tinge at times and the type of folk prog that I think the band are best at performing. The vocal performance is never anything less than accomplished, and the band themselves have rarely sounded as tight and determined as they do on this hugely enjoyable piece, especially on the gorgeous acoustic phases.

The title track flows effortlessly into the closer, Blind Faith, which clocks in at over six minutes. A quiet opening misleads us a little bit, because there is some mighty riffing here amongst the introspective and intense quieter passages. A very solid track which packs a great deal of mood swings and tempo changes in such a short time. Again, maybe a greater emphasis on this song length might be a solid direction for the band to follow, because the two shorter tracks are never filler material at all, but, instead, extremely strong and versatile.

This is a difficult album to rate overall. It is certainly not a masterpiece, but parts of it are quite excellent, and you certainly get an extremely good band musically. We don't have half star ratings on the site, but if we did, 3.5 stars would be the rating. As it is, on the strength of the title track and the two sublime shorter tracks, four stars. An excellent album from an excellent band.

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Send comments to lazland (BETA) | Report this review (#396275)
Posted Monday, February 07, 2011 | Review Permalink
SouthSideoftheSky
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
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.

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Send comments to SouthSideoftheSky (BETA) | Report this review (#423453)
Posted Sunday, March 27, 2011 | Review Permalink
3 stars Magenta = Suzanne Vega + Yes + Mostly Autumn. Good but not essential.

A nice album, quite melodic, very inspired by the sounds of Yes, with great space for the vocals of Christina Booth. I do not think that could be considered an essential album, but certainly has its moments.

The negative aspects that I think stand out in "Metamorphosis" are essentially two:

1. the emphatic use of electronic keyboards, especially the synth that seems decidedly out of context: sometimes it creates too bombastic atmospheres and sometimes it's exaggerated "poppy." Fortunately, in many parts guitar and piano are the guide istruments.

2. the voice of Christina Booth, undoubtedly beautiful but too cold for my taste. She is definitely a good singer but she lacks a bit expressive and interpretative abilities (listen to Sonia Kristina and maybe you'll understand my opinion).

The tendency to insist on parts very melodic is not necessarily a flaw; Melodic parts makes the album enjoyable, however, even considering the length of the tracks (there are two epics for more than 20 minutes each). The only consequence is that, after several plays, the album too melodic tend the listener to get bored easily. But we can hardly get bored listening to the first long epic The Ballad Of Samuel Layne where, in contrast to what followed, the melodic moments are rare and almost all in the second half of the song. It is definitely the artistic summit of the album, not easily accessible (the first time I heard the album I did not like it) with clear references to Yes albums like "Relayer" or "Tales". The different parts that make up the suite are well connected, the voice of Christina (who sings the desperation of a wife of a soldier in war) has great space. Excellent guitar parts (the sound, but obviously not the technique, reminds almost perfectly to Steve Howe) with good solos. Then the final crescendo, very well built. The only flaw, the useless, but thankfully short sequence of synth notes, that you can hear after 44 seconds from the start of the suite, mixed at a too high level: it disturbs me every time I listen to this song.

By contrast, the title track, a second suite of more than 23 minutes, is much more catchy and obvious in its musical developments. The suite, musically very close to the canons of neoprogressive, especially in the first part seems a bit confused: things are much better in the second half, where once again the guitar parts are the most successful. The shorter tracks really do not add anything to the quality of the album, they are too melodic to be really interesting (especially "Prekestolen where the sound of the keyboard is very banal).

Finally, the rating. The album lasts 54 minutes. The best songs, certainly interesting, are the two long epics. So we have about 44 minutes of good music, sometimes excellent (The Ballad Of Samuel Layne is one of the most interesting epic in recent years). The decision must therefore be positive, despite the presence of too many melodic moments, but this is a prerogative of neoprogressive. Howewer, maybe for non-fans of female vocals I would not recommend it. Whereas the individual songs evaluations are: The Ballad Of Samuel Layne 8 / 10, Prekestolen 3 / 10, Metamorphosis 5 / 10, Blind Faith 4 / 10. Overall my rating for this album is 5 / 10.

Three stars.

Best song: The Ballad Of Samuel Layne

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Send comments to Dark Nazgul (BETA) | Report this review (#442752)
Posted Wednesday, May 04, 2011 | Review Permalink
b_olariu
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Magenta is back in good shape after some unintristring previous album Home, who was little to soft, but this time thay are back delivering good moments like on Seven for instance. Methamorphosis from 2008 is another worthy album from their catalogue, where symphonic grandeur is melted almost perfectly with neo prog elements. Only 4 pieces this album has, 2 of them with an epic status, the best being the title track , nearly 25 min of pure magic. Everything went ok here, the arrangements are more then great, each musician being sure of his instrument and creating something truly enjoyble. The beautiful voice of Christina Booth gives to the album a great atmosphere and pleasent listning. Methamsphosis maybe is not as great as Seven, to me their best for sure so far, but has plenty of complex parts, great musicianship and a damn great sound that will please most of the neo/symphonic fans. Great guitar chops dueling with keybords, a great drumer in the mix, all of these make me give 4 star to this album, and for sure is no less then great. I really like it from start to finish.

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Send comments to b_olariu (BETA) | Report this review (#626717)
Posted Sunday, February 05, 2012 | Review Permalink
Warthur
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars Evidently, Magenta were perturbed by the mixed reception Home received, because Metamorphosis finds them retreating to more traditionally proggy territory. In fact, they cram on not one but two songs of over twenty minutes, as though going out of their way to stress their prog credentials. It's a pleasant enough disc, but to be honest it feels like the band are going through the motions, trotting out a bunch of well-worn prog motifs and jamming on them until they hit the 20 minute mark. The lyrical direction is mildly darker than expected, but otherwise this is good but rather typical neo-prog material which doesn't do anything particularly special.

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Send comments to Warthur (BETA) | Report this review (#732003)
Posted Tuesday, April 17, 2012 | Review Permalink
Aussie-Byrd-Brother
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Rock Progressivo Italiano Team
4 stars Just one look at the grim cover art on Magenta's `Metamorphosis' should tip the listener off that something of a change of direction might be in store for them with this one. Coming two years after their `Home' album, which was mostly built around a collection of ballads and accessible adult pop/rock numbers, `Metamorphosis' sees the band head back to the grander extended compositions from their earlier album `Revolutions', as well as offering their darkest material yet. It's not unusual for Neo related bands to head into darker territory at some point in their careers, and this is no exception. Rob Reed, Christina Booth and Chris Fry have never sounded so heavy and intense. Their usual rich, melodic and heartfelt progressive rock has had some dark heavy riffs and a more sinister sound grafted to them, and, along with the implementation of proper live orchestrated instruments, it very much stands apart from their other albums.

At first I wasn't too convinced how well the `The Ballad of Samuel Layne' holds together as a genuine 20 minute piece, but it can easily be accepted as a continuous collection of fascinating short passages that all have a sophisticated and varied sound. The first few minutes have some frequent stop/start moments over and over that I find breaks up the piece in quite an obtrusive way, but on repeated plays, as you pay more attention to the lyrics about the woman left behind by a soldier heading off to war, you start to get a better sense of the flow of the piece. The frequent acoustic moments that accompany Christina's warming vocals offer some of Magenta's loveliest melodies. The heavy sections that show up occasionally throughout are probably closer to the heavier moments of the most recent Porcupine Tree albums, and they make more sense if you pay attention of the lyrics, perfectly highlighting the horror of some of the words. Overall there's a nice balance of reflective passages, tense drama and exhilarating instrumental runs. It segues into `Prekestolen', a lush orchestrated Celtic ballad with stirring pipes from guest Troy Donockley who brings even more class to this album.

The 23 minute title track really grabs you by the throat right from the start, it's probably one of the most brooding and dynamic pieces to appear on one of their albums to date. There's numerous bombastic heavy sections with Tim Robinson's bashing drum-work and riff-heavy guitar grunt over ballistic keyboard solos, all coming together in a sweeping, hypnotic and intimidating quality. Christina seems to relish singing with such a wicked glee on this one, her voice taking on a surprisingly aggressive and howling tone - it's always the quiet ones! You'll also find super-thick chunky bass, murky electronic beats, and incredible guitar soloing like the best of the 70's Pink Floyd albums, bluesy and foot-tapping one second, overwhelming and overpowering the next. All of these elements come together for a burning, triumphant and grandiose climax.

The final shorter track `Blind Faith' is mostly a dreamy melody fused with light Portishead/Massive Attack-type trip-hop beats and chiming Coldplay-like chords, but sadly it becomes a bit of a mess with impossibly heavy metal riffs worked into some sections. The two styles don't hold together well at all here (the riffs sounds a little desperate to be honest), but thankfully Christina ends the album on an impossibly stunning vocal solo that takes you straight to the heavens.

The album has also now been reissued with extra tracks and a bonus DVD. There's several edits of pieces from the album given a solely orchestral backing, and they are truly exquisite and quickly pull on the heartstrings. The DVD is overloaded with well over three hours of bonus materials, not only including the entire studio album remixed into 5.1 Surround sound, but some very thorough and exhausting behind the scenes/interview segments that go into every detail you could possibly want to know. Special mention must also go to the perfectly restrained and subtle black and white video for the orchestral version of `A War Bride's Prayer', simply beautiful. It's inspiring to see how much effort Rob and company have put into making the re-release so special, and it sets the standards for how other prog artists should approach this sort of thing.

One thing that makes Magenta so impressive is that they have a very modern and contemporary style, not sounding like a group forever indebted to the vintage 70's defining bands. Despite the numerous Steve Howe-inspired flavours to Chris Fry's guitar sound, they certainly never sound like a lazy rehash of Yes! `Metamorphosis' is yet another fine album from the band, Christina still displays why she's the most charismatic of the modern female prog singers, and Rob's songwriting and playing is as reliable and sublime as ever. Perhaps the heavier elements on this one may put off just a few listeners, but the band really do have a very melodic and approachable sound that could quite easily open them up a wider audience outside of the progressive rock community.

Four stars.

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Send comments to Aussie-Byrd-Brother (BETA) | Report this review (#1098488)
Posted Tuesday, December 24, 2013 | Review Permalink

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