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Arabs In Aspic - Madness and Magic CD (album) cover


Arabs In Aspic


Heavy Prog

3.85 | 132 ratings

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4 stars This is Arabs in Aspic's 6th full length album. "Madness and Magic" is really the perfect name for this album as, when I listen to it, it sounds like an excellent progressive sound (which is the Magic), yet it also sounds almost like it is going to fall apart at any time (the Madness). This combination makes for an intriguing listen, not only on the first listen, but also on subsequent listens. I recognize that saying something sounds like "it is going to fall apart at any time" might seem negative, but in this sense, it gives the music a feeling of unpredictability, which to me, is a great thing. But, along with this, the Magic side of the album is that it sounds authentically progressive, borrowing sounds and shades of classic progressive bands while still sound quite relevant and fresh. It is this mix that keeps me coming back to this excellent and well-constructed album.

But, unfortunately, there are some issues here, which, from reading the previous reviewer's comments, is an issue that the band has had in the past. This problem stems with the odd lyrics that are sometimes embarrassingly bad. For those listeners that don't put a lot of weight on the lyrics, this might slip by unnoticed, but since lyrics and vocals are quite an important part of the band's music here, it is hard to imagine that the listener would just not notice that. Looking at past ratings for the band's previous albums, each one of them has managed to average at 4 stars. Honestly, this is the first time I have heard this band, though I have heard of them before. The fact that they haven't raised or lowered that score among fellow Archive raters, does concern me a bit, but listening to this album does make me want to explore deeper into their music.

The 6 songs on this album are all "fused" together, each one flowing into the next, almost making this entire endeavor sound like a suite. However, it's obviously not that as each song (except for the two part "Lullaby for Modern Kids") is it's own entity. But through these songs, one things remains constant, excellent composition and well-constructed progressive music, which flows along quite smoothly from drifting, psychedelic passages to melodic sections to heavy and solid riffs. The album definitely has something for everyone, but also seems focused to deliver high-quality music. But it is the instrumental portions of the album that are the best and that stand out the most in the first several listens, and the vocal complexities soon become a more appreciated part of the music as both your ear and mind adjust to the style.

This is an album that will impress most progressive listeners right at the outset. Of course the track that will garner the most interest from the progressive crowd will be the 16+ minute "Heaven in Your Eye", which again is almost perfect, but seems to end a bit lackluster and abruptly, like the song is ready to move on to another section, but instead just quickly fades out. There are a few minor issues like that that seem to keep this album from reaching a 5 star status, but hopefully that doesn't keep anyone from at least giving this album a try. It's not a masterpiece, but it is still quite enjoyable and worthy of 4 stars.

TCat | 4/5 |


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