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Magna Vice - Serpent of Wisdom CD (album) cover


Magna Vice

Heavy Prog

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kev rowland
Honorary Reviewer
2 stars 'Serpent of Wisdom' is the debut album of Turku, Finland-based Magna Vice. The label describes it as an ambitious 70-minute progressive heavy metal concept album. It tells the story of war veteran Ed Diamond who suffers from hallucinations. He realizes a helping hand is closer than he expected ' but first he must free himself from the shackles of yesterday. The story is carried by numerous clues and soundscapes in between songs. When they say ambitious, they possibly should have said slightly over-ambitious as what we have here is a band that is trying extremely hard, sometimes too hard, to get it right and be over the top. There are elements of this album that work very well, with some very strong guitar and some good songs, but what lets them down is the production and some of the execution.

The drums are just too high in the mix, and after a while the snare drum becomes really annoying, but what really lets this album down are the vocals. The vocalist is very nearly a great singer, but not quite. So there are times when he sings just too high, or just slightly off, or often with a strident edge that really does cut through everything, but not in a good way. These guys do show some real promise, and there is no doubting that they have loads of ideas, but they need to work with a strong producer who can keep everything under control, and then we might get the album that is undoubtedly there, but this isn't it.

Report this review (#1080771)
Posted Saturday, November 23, 2013 | Review Permalink
3 stars This Finnish debut album definitely isn't as bad as the ratings would implicate. In fact I -- for whom heavy or metal admittedly are't very close genres -- think that MAGNA VICE is a pretty gifted quintet, who sound like they could easily play good and authenthic versions of heavy rock classics from Heep and Purple to Rush and Iron Maiden. They seem to be influenced by newer Prog Metal too, but especially due to vocals and the heavy presence of Hammond, the old school 70's Heavy Prog of URIAH HEEP and such is dominating. The David Byron -like vocals of Veli-Matti Heino may be a weak link to some listeners, but at least he's got guts to faithfully follow the old idols. I've certainly heard worse vocalists in this field.

The 68-minute album is about a war veteran who's tortured by bad memories and hallucinations. Here and there some dialogue- like spoken parts try to increase the sense of the concept. A very good feature is the way tracks follow each other without pauses, thus making the whole a singular entity. The music is not downright aggressive or fast, or "Metallic"; it really sounds like good old classic heavy rock with just some modern touch added occasionally. Throughout the album the tension is quite strong and lacks notable variety in dynamics, and therefore, despite the tracks being mostly quite long (around 10 minutes), the whole is a bit too samey all the way. Another minus is that the vocals are there nearly all the time.

The band's own production is fairly good in my opinion. The group, three years old at the time of release, lacks the real originality but indeed shows a lot of potential. For possible future albums I wish they tried to compose with a wider pallette.

Report this review (#1579253)
Posted Thursday, June 16, 2016 | Review Permalink

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