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The Morrigan - Hidden Agenda CD (album) cover

HIDDEN AGENDA

The Morrigan

 

Prog Folk

4.01 | 12 ratings

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Conor Fynes
Prog Reviewer
4 stars 'Hidden Agenda' - The Morrigan (8/10)

At the time of releasing 'Hidden Agenda', progressive Celt rockers The Morrigan had already been together for nearly twenty years. Returning again once every few years to come back with another album, The Morrigan have never been the most prolific bunch, but they have always released music that is gorged with charm. Although the musical strength has varied, there has been a steady increase in the band's strength as the years have gone by, and it culminates here with the group's fifth album; 'Hidden Agenda'. While keeping a similar formula in structure and style to previous works, The Morrigan has never before achieved such a level of strength at what they do, coupling powerful songwriting with good performance values and evident experience. The result is an album that finally aptly reflects the band's potential.

Since their inception, The Morrigan have made their mission to merge Celtic folk traditions with progressive rock; a lofty goal, to say the least. More often than not, this has led to their albums being a revolving door of Celtic jigs and typical prog rock moments; doing both rather well, but ultimately failing to merge the two in a successful marriage. 'Hidden Agenda' finally realizes this, as can be heard from the combination of shoegazey guitars, and traditional recorder playing. For an album that appears to be a large improvement over its predecessors however, not much has changed in the overall formula. 'Hidden Agenda' still begins with the necessary upbeat Celtic instrumental overture, then digresses into story-driven vocal tracks and rock-oriented renditions of traditional songs.

One place where 'Hidden Agenda' really makes its mark is during its highly successful mini-epic, 'A Night To Remember'. Based on the tragedy of the sinking Titantic, the nine minute piece details a chilling narrative of the boat's fatal voyage, as well as multiple perspectives. Musically as well, there is a much greater majesty to what The Morrigan do here; a larger scale sense of composition that makes 'A Night To Remember' feel like a genuine epic as opposed to an overstretched song. I have always found that The Morrigan's focus on telling stories with their music was always a strength, but it seems to have taken a backseat since the debut 'Spirit Of The Soup'. In any case, the band makes up for it here by creating a piece here that manages to capture the desparation of the story, but keeps things ironically upbeat and catchy.

Anyone who has heard the music of The Morrigan before will expect a great vocal presentation from the band, and here they shall receive. Cathy Alexander has a fantastic and distinctive style of singing that only adds to the Celtic flair of this band. It does feel as if 'Hidden Agenda' faces some of the same weaker aspects that have always plagued them, such as a few inconsistent tracks here and there that feel slightly too derivative of Celtic traditional music. Flaws aside however, there's no doubt in my mind that The Morrigan's most recent album is also their definitive work.

Conor Fynes | 4/5 |

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