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Mägo De Oz - Gaia CD (album) cover


Mägo De Oz


Progressive Metal

4.00 | 94 ratings

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4 stars I'm not a fan of 'heavy metal' or 'progressive metal', but MAGO DE OZ rocks. And I say that as someone who's musical taste, as far as Progressive Rock goes, is for the symphonic side of the genre.

I've read comments about the music of MAGO DE OZ having a Celtic sound. I certainly hear strong Gaelic influences. Think of Irish fiddle, tin whistle and keyboards (piano, Hammond, synthesizers and accordion) melded with chopping axes and Spanish musical influences and you've got MAGO DE OZ. Actually, when I say "fiddle", Mohamed plays electric and acoustic violin and viola. And when I say "tin whistle", Fernando also plays the flute and bagpipes. Talented guys, with a warped sense of humour (the drummer's pseudonym is Txus di Fellatio!)

If you like heavy rock, you should definitely give this album a try. In fact, even if you are not into heavy stuff, you should still make an effort to listen to this album because you may actually like what you hear (and there are some lovely non-metal parts on this album, too). Although this is very metal oriented, there are some Progressive Rock elements: the lush arrangements, the musical influences, the variety of instruments and the album's concept (yes, it's a full-blown concept album). Mind you, some of the tracks are pure heavy rock, Gaelic influence and keyboards notwithstanding. If you are a 'progressive metal' fan, you should certainly get a major fix from this album.

Thank goodness these guys maintain their Spanish identity and sing in Spanish.

The first joy about this release is the packaging. A lot of effort has been put into producing a top quality product. Inside an outer sleeve there is a quality-printed hardback book containing, in stiff cardboard sleeves, the CD and a DVD, plus 36 pages printed in colour on thick-gauge paper. You'll find the lyrics, full details of the album's concept and the band (all in Spanish), including colour photographs of the band dressed as 15th or 16th Century sailors complete with tricorn hats and sailing coats. Aha, Jim me lad. I think those of you who don't speak Spanish will still enjoy the package. Even the artwork on the CD and DVD is pleasing. Oh, I should also mention the bizarre cartoon cover art: a grinning skeleton wearing glasses, holding the globe in its right hand and a scythe over the shoulder held with the left. And the handle of the scythe has a dripping condom slipped over it! Behind is the jungle with an Aztec temple, R2D2 lying smoking on the steps with a brick through him, and three grinning demons, one rolling a joint. There's more, but I'll leave you to discover it - and the DVD - for yourself.

'Obertura MDXX' (overture 1520) starts with the creaking of a sailing ship, the calls of the gulls overhead, the crashing waves, and the rigging singing in the wind, as bowed and plucked strings build. A choir chants and sings in the background in operatic style as horns play. What an incredibly pleasing start. I can picture Cortez' vessel ploughing through the waves with sails billowing. By the way, the choral part was recorded in a Madrid church.

Piano alone starts off the 11-minute 'Gaia'. Then Gaelic-sounding flute joins in to introduce a pleasant song. The heavy axes eventually let rip at a slow tempo and the song seems to turn into an old-fashioned heavy metal number, but then, suddenly, in comes the piano, whistle and fiddle and we're listening to an Irish jig with the axes backing. There's some fast guitar soloing on this one, plus nice Hammond and synths. A real foot tapper. The chopping axes are massive and the fiddle fantastic. Great stuff!

'La Conquista' (the conquest) starts at a fast pace with chopping axes, Hammond and flute. José joins in quickly. This is a heavy, fast and furious track. DEEP PURPLE would have been proud (some parts are very reminiscent of their stuff). Some fiddle comes in briefly midway. Another good number.

'Alma' (soul) starts with Gaelic-sounding fiddle and guitars, then has José singing over some heavy guitar interspaced with fiddle and flute. I like the way the track alternates between chopping axes, fiddle and keyboard. Sure it's a head banger at times, but the use of the fiddle with axes backing, not the other way round, is very good. And I like the use of the keyboards on this one too: the bombastic, rapid pounding is great. Have I mentioned the good drumming on all the tracks yet? Great track.

'La Costa Del Silencio' (the coast of silence) again starts with fiddle and flute but turns straight into a foot-tapper of a song, real sing-along stuff. You could be down at the inn thumping the tables to this one. Nice fiddling.

'El Arbol De La Noche Triste' (the tree of the sad night). Chopping axes backed by 'harpsichord' start this one off. Another catchy song, which has me rocking from side to side. Some good guitar and synth support the singing.

'La Rosa De Los Vientos' (the rose of the winds) is a simple, pleasant ditty. José is backed by piano and flute.

'La Leyenda De La Llorona' (the legend of La Llorona, which is a well-known Spanish legend) is lovely. Initially medieval sounding, it turns into a Gaelic romp; the flute, tin whistle, fiddle and acoustic guitar are excellent. Some nice bass work and drumming too.

'Van A Rodar Cabezas' (heads will roll) starts with some Hammond and then kicks into some serious heavy guitar and drumming work (nice, tinkling synthesizer in the background) with fiddle in places and José really belting out the song. I like some of the axe work in this, and again, the use of chopping axes to back the fiddle in places. There's some frenetic work on the axe, fiddle and Hammond on this track, all three great. The Hammond and axe work sounds so DEEP PURPLE that the lads would again be proud. Fast and furious stuff. David Coverdale-style singing too.

'El Atrapasueños' (the dreamcatcher) is another very Gaelic foot-tapper, but with some Spanish influence too. Heavy but with fiddle and flute interlude. Then there is a South American interlude, with panpipes and charango, before the fiddle kicks in again with the axe in the background. Great song!

'Si Te Vas' (if you go) is a slow rock ballad à la SCORPIONS. The sort of thing you'd be slow-dancing to, clutching your partner's sweaty body tightly, at the end of the evening after some serious clubbing. A nice mixture of fiddle, soaring guitar, piano and passionate singing. Very over-the-top, but good nonetheless.

'La Venganza de Gaia' (Gaia's revenge) is another 11-minute track. A fast tempo drum bash with synthesizer, chopping axes and a very catchy song, again with strong Gaelic influences. Τhere is a good whistle-and-fiddle interlude before the axes crash in again. Actually, there are several changes in tempo and mood during the track. There's some very good guitar work, plus some really funky bass, pleasing synthesizer and fiddle. What a great way to end the album.

Well, after listening to this I'm exhausted and my brain fried. I couldn't listen to it every day, but it's a treat: something different and good. These guys play really well, the sound is rich - it should be, with eight band members - and they are clearly very talented. Great fun. Cuatro estrellas, sin duda!

Fitzcarraldo | 4/5 |


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