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MAGIC PIE

Symphonic Prog • Norway


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Magic Pie picture
Magic Pie biography
Founded in Norway in 2001

Every time I hear that a Symphonic band from any Scandinavian country has released an album, I run and get it without any question, in most cases I'm not defrauded, their approach to classic Symphonic is impeccable in most cases and MAGIC PIE is not an exception.

The band was born a bit after the new century around 2001 - 2002 by six experienced musicians from Moss and Fredrikstad two cities in the southeastern County of Østfold in Norway.

The members of the band are: Kim Stenberg (Guitars), the excellent keyboardist Gilbert Marshal who takes turns in the lead vocals, Eirick Hanssen (Lead Vocals), Lars Peter Holstad (Bass), Jan T. Johannessen (drums) and a third lead vocalist Allan Olsen.

They started in the early stage of their yet short career doing covers of Progressive acts playing always a couple of complex own material that they kept gathering until the year 2005 when they release the excellent debut album "Motions of Desire".

Their approach is respectful to early Symphonic but combines elements of Hard Rock blending almost everything from Genesis to Kansas or ELP to Dream Theater but never copying or attempting to clone, they just get the inspiration and work it with their unique style.

Their technique, atmospheres, skills and clear perspective of their musical future is impressive and I'm sure this bio will have to be upgraded in the next months when they release a second album (I hope).

In the moment we're writing this bio and only after months of it's release, "Motions of Desire" has 27 ratings, an impressive number for a new band that comes from the cold north country and clearly speaks of the respect "MAGIC PIE" has earned from the Prog community.

Iván Melgar Morey - Perú

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MAGIC PIE discography


Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help Progarchives.com to complete the discography and add albums

MAGIC PIE top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.84 | 287 ratings
Motions Of Desire
2005
3.88 | 261 ratings
Circus Of Life
2007
3.91 | 423 ratings
The Suffering Joy
2011
3.78 | 167 ratings
King For A Day
2015
3.86 | 109 ratings
Fragments Of The 5th Element
2019

MAGIC PIE Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

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MAGIC PIE Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

MAGIC PIE Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

MAGIC PIE Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 King For A Day by MAGIC PIE album cover Studio Album, 2015
3.78 | 167 ratings

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King For A Day
Magic Pie Symphonic Prog

Review by kev rowland
Special Collaborator Honorary Reviewer

4 stars 2015 saw the Norwegians return with their fourth album, and right from the off they are punching hard with all their tricks and flicks on show. This time the longest song is at the end (a mere 27 minutes in length) and instead they start with one of the shortest. Their combination of complex guitar/bass/ keyboard runs are some of the best around, often moving them far more into rock and hard territory than many other symphonic bands around. Musically they are staying in the same territory they have made their own, namely Gentle Giant and City Boy trading yarns with Genesis, Spock's Beard and Enchant, to create something which is incredibly complex, yet with amazing hooks and harmony vocals.

All the material is accessible, with songs such as 'Introversion' having a massive chorus. This is an incredibly powerful driving rock number showing way more confidence than the title may lead one to imagine. The keyboards and guitar intertwine, sharing leads, and everyone apart from drummer Jan T. Johannessen joins in on vocals. The album was mixed and mastered by none other than Rich Mouser (Spock's Beard, Transatlantic, Neal Morse, Dream Theater) so of course the sound is spot on, and given his experience with bands who work in a similar musical area he knew exactly what he was looking for. To date the band have released five albums, all incredibly powerful and dynamic, and any one of them is the perfect introduction to a band any proghead should be familiar with.

 The Suffering Joy by MAGIC PIE album cover Studio Album, 2011
3.91 | 423 ratings

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The Suffering Joy
Magic Pie Symphonic Prog

Review by kev rowland
Special Collaborator Honorary Reviewer

4 stars This 2011 album was the third from Norwegian progressive rock band Magic Pie, but it had been four years since 'Circus Of Life', during which time they had one of their lead singers in Allan Olsen, and he had been replaced by Eirikur Hauksson. Losing a lead singer is never good for any band, no matter the genre, but when the band is heavily based around vocal harmonies then that is even a greater loss. However, here the guys found someone who slotted right in and the band kept going in the same manner they had previously. This is symphonic progressive rock heavily influenced by the classic Seventies sound of British bands such as Gentle Giant (in particular), the more recent American acts such as Spock's Beard (who share many of the same influences of course) and Enchant, plus a more hard rock approach than many.

The result is a sound which is layered and lush, with organ tightly tied to complex guitar runs, and Hauksson combining with Eirik Hanssen in a twin vocal approach which brings forth memories of classic Kansas with Steinhardt and Walsh. There are also little musical interludes which are classic City Boy, a band who will always be remembered in the UK for one hit single, but who released a series of amazing albums. Symphonic yet accessible, there is something about every Magic Pie release which is somehow both exciting yet welcoming, enthralling and engaging. Just for the hell of it they open the album with one song, broken into four parts, which is 25 minutes long! If that isn't confidence, I don't know what it is, and they nail it. The tight runs, particularly in 'Part 4', sound as if they are just one instrument yet sonically it is as least four, there really is no room for anyone to be even a split second out. Yet another supreme effort.

 Fragments Of The 5th Element by MAGIC PIE album cover Studio Album, 2019
3.86 | 109 ratings

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Fragments Of The 5th Element
Magic Pie Symphonic Prog

Review by Windhawk
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars Norwegian band MAGIC PIE was formed back in 2001, and ever since they released their debut album "Motions of Desire" four years later they have been something of a household name in progressive rock circles, and gaining a reputation for being a solid and steady band both as recording artists and live performers. "Fragments of the 5th Element" is their fifth studio album, and was released through Norwegian label Karisma Records at the end of the summer of 2019.

Magic Pie is firmly established as a quality provider of retro-oriented progressive rock of the kind that mix and blend elements of 70's style symphonic progressive rock and certain aspects of the more art-oriented hard rocks band from the same era into a tight, compelling and often energetic package. Their songs are of high quality throughout their career, their albums are very well mixed and produced, and their reputation as a rock solid band will be further emphasized by this latest album of theirs. If you aren't yet aware of this band, this latest album is as good a place to start with them as any other. And if you know and love this band, this latest production is more of the same. A rock solid production, and an album I suspect will hit quite a few top 10 lists that are published here and there these days.

 Fragments Of The 5th Element by MAGIC PIE album cover Studio Album, 2019
3.86 | 109 ratings

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Fragments Of The 5th Element
Magic Pie Symphonic Prog

Review by kev rowland
Special Collaborator Honorary Reviewer

4 stars When I hear Norwegian band Magic Pie's debut back in 2005 I was just blown away and moaned it had kept many other albums away from my CD player as I couldn't bring myself to take it off! They haven't been the most prolific since then, but they are now back with their fifth album, with the same line-up as the last album, 2015's 'King For A Day'. With only drummer Jan Johannessen not contributing vocals in the six-man line-up, and both Eirikur Hauksson and Eirik Hanssen not playing instruments, one might think this is a very vocal-heavy band. That is true in many respects, but this is a symphonic progressive rock band with complex arrangements who are never afraid to crank it up and blast through, just with wonderful harmonies over the top!

Inspired by classic Seventies bands, this is a rich feast for progheads as opposed to a simple single course. It twists, it turns, it moves and grooves, is easy to get inside yet at the same time there is a great deal going on. Just the opening power chord followed by complex keyboard runs of "The Man Who Had It All" had me invested in the album from the very start, smiling, waiting to see what was going to come next. That it slowed down, sped up, moved between piano and keyboards before the vocals started, just made me smile that much more. From there on it was heads down and stay focused as I just didn't want to miss anything that was going on. Gentle Giant are just one of the influences on display, yet often in a more commercial and rock-based manner.

"The Hedonist" is the final track on offer, a simple ditty of some 22 minutes in length which allows the band to really stretch their wings and show what they can achieve in an epic. Restraint is the order of the day, as the band take time to really get going, but when they do they show they have been paying attention to the likes of Spock's Beard and keep the interest going throughout. Somehow I missed the last two Magic Pie albums, I won't be making that mistake again. Superb.

 Fragments Of The 5th Element by MAGIC PIE album cover Studio Album, 2019
3.86 | 109 ratings

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Fragments Of The 5th Element
Magic Pie Symphonic Prog

Review by Tarcisio Moura
Prog Reviewer

4 stars I remember when I got Magic Pie´s first two CDs and how much I liked them. In many ways this great band from Norway reminded me of 90´s The Flower Kings: retro prog, alright, but with a personality of their own and lots of great melodies. After their third album, however, I kind of lost contact until I found this CD by pure chance., And I must say I was delighted to see they remain more or less the same in style, but they also evolved on the songwriting department: although the classic 70´s influences are still very much evident (and this is a compliment), their songs are also unique. The band is also tighter than ever, with every instrument and vocal appearing at the right moment: those guys are obviously skilful musicians but use their superb technique for the music not for showing off. So if you´re looking for 10 minute solos and a general display of virtuosity you should go elsewhere. However, if you enjoy great melodic symphonic prog with lots of nice surprises, this is for you!

Actually I must also say that the CD is not perfect: the opener The Man Who Had It All and the closer epic The Hedonist are pure symphonic prog of the highest calibre. Together they respond for a little more than half of the CD and they are worth the price of the album alone. Between them there are three tracks: P & C is another fine prog tune with a driving fusion keyboard solo, while the Beatles influenced Table For Two is also very good but less adventurous lyrically, Maybe the only negative point is Touched By An Angel. Not a bad track at all, it has a really good guitar line, but at eight minutes this ballad is stretched a little too much. I guess it would be fine if stayed on the four or five minute time, but it drags as it is cutting the CD´s even flow up until then. However, there are not enough good things to say about the almost 23 minute closer, The Hedonist. Inspired, powerful, full of twists and turns, with gorgeous vocal and instrumental arrangements, it never loses steam throughout the whole epic making it one of the most well constructed and captivating prog suites I have heard in a long time. It´s one of those long songs it sounds only too short every time you listen to it, intuitively wishing it could go on t least a little longer, especially the emotional last part.

The production is simply superb, as are all the performances. I have been listening to this CD non stop for two weeks and I guess it´ll be on my fave list for a long time still. Surely it will be on any best of list of progressive rock releases of this year. A great rediscover!

Rating: 4,5 stars. Highly recommended!

 Fragments Of The 5th Element by MAGIC PIE album cover Studio Album, 2019
3.86 | 109 ratings

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Fragments Of The 5th Element
Magic Pie Symphonic Prog

Review by TCat
Special Collaborator Eclectic / Prog Metal / Heavy Prog Team

4 stars How about a slice of MAGIC PIE? Or at least an album from them? It's a Symphonic Prog band from Norway. Now I see you salivating. Let's give them a try.

They have been around since the early 2000s and have sporadically been releasing full length studio albums through the years. Their fifth album, released in August of 2019, is called "Fragments of the 5th Element". The line up and instrumentation for this album consists of 4 of the original members, Kim Stenberg on guitars and vocals who also writes and arranges the songs, Eirik Hanssen on vocals, Lars Petter Holstad on bass and vocals, and Jan Johannessen on drums. Also, the current line up consists of Eirikur Hauksson on lead vocals, and Erling Henager on keyboards and vocals. This album consists of 5 tracks with a total run time of 46 minutes.

The album opens with "The Man Who Had it All" (5:25) with the entire band starting off with swirling synths and guitars leading the way and shifting tempos that immediately cement their claim to progressive music. The feeling is somewhere between symphonic and neo prog, and the song structure shows off a strong connection to early Genesis influences. The music is bright and well produced and the vocals are perfect for the style. Tempos and meters continue to shift throughout, but the Genesis style vibe anchors the sound quite well. Both the excellent keyboards and the great guitar lines share the spotlight producing a perfect balance. It's an excellent start.

"P & C" (5:32) begins with a short instrumental intro and then harmonic vocals take an a cappella melody and then carry it back into an instrumental backing. As it continues, the first instrumental break sees the organ and guitar building up a lot of steam and then an electric piano takes it into jazz fusion territory. A slower section sees the guitar pull the music to a more emotional style, there is some atmospheric synth, and then the main theme returns, then ending with a darker guitar riff. "Table for Two" (4:04) starts with a progressive intro which then smooths out to a steady moderate beat and what seems to be a more accessible melody. The instrumental break gives the synths a chance to show off for a short time before the melody returns. The lyrics are a nice romantic tribute and definitely fit for a more commercial sounding track.

"Touched By an Angel" (8:01) begins with a slow and lovely guitar prelude. Before the 2 minute mark, the vocals begin and the music remains slow and ballad like. Soon, the drums come in with a moderately slow beat, and an emotional and another romantic sounding song begins to build. The cycle continues with the 2nd verse and chorus. With the previous song and this one, we seem to be leaving the Genesis style and moving more towards a Styx-inspired ballad style. Even though this track is longer, it still has a very commercial feel to it, though the guitar solos are nice, and they are used to stretch out the length of the straightforward track. The last minute builds the intensity a bit more for a nice guitar-led and emotional ending.

The last track is the epic "The Hedonist" (22:58). This track fortunately returns to the Symphonic/Neo-prog style again with a long introduction that sees the music shifting tempos and meters, and featuring some nice synth solos and powerful progressive riffs. The vocals start off with a nice, thick harmonic melody, while the music continues to shift in a progressive manner. The music also remains bright, as it does through most of the album, again reminiscent of Genesis, yet very melodic. This longer track also carries many different thematic styles, never settling too long on a single melody, but spreading them around throughout the track. Again, the synth/guitar balance is spot on with each getting a chance to shine, even in this lyrically heavy track. The overall sound slows down in the middle, and a nice string solo appears just before it all picks up again and goes for complete progressive sound again. Somewhere around the 16 minute mark, we go into a jazz fusion style again, but right after, the guitar solo twists it all back to the Neo sound again.

This is a decent album with a lot of balance, yet strong progressive traits, though it does have a couple of more commercial sounding tracks. Again, the music is bright and mostly positive sounding, only venturing into dark territory for short durations. Overall, it works quite well, the sound seeming to lean more towards a Neo-prog sound, but the Symphonic style remains at work through the album. If you are a big fan of the Genesis to Marillion styles, then you should be happy with this album, but other progressive fans should check it out too, especially the last epic track, which is obviously the focus of the album. Only the middle 2 tracks are what I consider a bit too commercial, however, they don't overpower the rest of the album enough to ruin it. The band is talented, the production is excellent and so is the musicianship, so it is definitely worth a serious listen.

 Motions Of Desire by MAGIC PIE album cover Studio Album, 2005
3.84 | 287 ratings

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Motions Of Desire
Magic Pie Symphonic Prog

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams

4 stars As the new renaissance of the progressive rock 90s churned on into the new millennium, it seems everyone was getting in on the act and the Scandinavian countries of Europe produced more than their fair share of some of the best new acts to emerge in the newer waves of the progressive rock world. Norway's MAGIC PIE was one of many to take the retro approach which adopted as many styles from the golden era and piecemeal them together into a fine tapestry of tradition all the while keeping the updated stylistic approaches and superior production values in full play. The band began as a cover band but soon gained enough confidence to begin crafting their own compositions out of the templates of the past masters. They soon released their debut album MOTIONS OF DESIRE in 2005 which was touted as being one of the best prog releases of the year and successfully gained them an instant following by those who would become instantly addicted to their heavy organ drenched riffs and rhythms in well-crafted musical territories where catchy earworms danced side by side with choppy angular prog accoutrements that harkened a blast from the past while tacking on the current passions of the present.

MAGIC PIE is a sextet coming from the south-eastern city of Østfold on Norway's eastern border with Sweden, another nation of seemingly endless musical talents that contributed to the fully fueled prog revival in the 90s with talents such as Ånglagard and Anekdoten. Each musician is a master of his respective instrument with Kim Stenberg leading the way with his crafty guitar oriented songwriting structures feeling equally at home on both happy-go-lucky rhythmic chord strumming or sizzling face-melting solos. Another prominent feature of the MAGIC PIE experience is the prominent use of the dreamy keyboards which emulate organs, mellotrons and all the atmospheric aspects of classic 70s prog. Gilbert Marshall, while a virtuoso in his own right on the keys is in no way a Keith Emerson type but rather focuses on the more ambient textures of Genesis' "Wind & Wuthering" era as well as Deep Purple type hard rock keyboard bombast. There are also many sections that would feel right at home on neo-prog albums as the textures often are superimposed on the band to augment a heightened melodic counterpoint. MAGIC PIE also employs two vocalists. Both Erik Hanssen and Allan Olsen complement each other as they sing in unison or cleverly craft madrigal polyphonies that offer nods to Gentle Giant without sounding like total ripoffs.

MOTIONS OF DESIRE is a lengthy beast consisting of eight tracks clocking in at almost 75 minutes. The opening track "Change" is a truly ambitious monster of a prog track clocking in at over twenty minutes and zigzags through many moods, textures and musical parades, however like the rest of the album is based in melodic rock that is more heavy than not that to me sounds like it inspired by some of the 70s classics like Mott The Hoople, David Bowie and other melodic rock giants, at least in compositional structuring. MAGIC PIE doesn't just stop with their melodic roots as the template but its how they build upon these different riffs and rhythms, tones and timbres and construct some of the most emotional drenching meets technically demanding tracks that have both the ability to weasel their way into your consciousness with their hooks but also bedazzle with their technical wizardry that not only delivers frenetic guitar and keyboard solos but run the gamut of completing the prog lover's workshop course by including crazy time signature change segments as well as polyphonic visions of 70s prog perfection.

Overall i find MAGIC PIE has that post-Morse Spock's Beard or Flower Kings symphonic prog sound as they carry out sprawling melodic segments that morph into different ones at least for the mellow and dreamier aspects of the album such as the neo-prog sounds of the title track and "Dream Vision. The band are perfectly capable of dishing some heavier parts and tracks with the highlight coming on the lightning technical speeds and bombast of "Illusion & Reality - Part III: Final Breath" with all the modern day virtuosity you could ask for. There are also parts such as the alternating rhythms in "Change" that display a rather flamenco rhythmic flare as well as ska rhythms emerging periodically. MOTIONS OF DESIRE contains an additional track "Full Circle Poetry" that is just over fourteen minutes in length as well as a sprawling three part themed chunk of time dedicated to "Illusion & Realty" that between the three tracks hit over the eighteen minute mark which gives this album all the pomp and overweening progitude that caused the genre to peak and ultimately decline during the heyday. MAGIC PIE unapologetically resurrects these ambitious attributes in full glory and runs away with it.

MAGIC PIE seems to catch a lot of flack for seemingly being "souless" and "insincere" as they unapologetically borrow riffs and rhythms that pinpoint to a time in the past but i can't help but to really love this one. Every track flows with the perfect amount of all ingredients finding their way into the mix. While the music isn't designed to create a new direction in prog, it certainly succeeds extremely well in stitching all of the ingredients together and making a bona fide retro prog sound that i find pleasing from beginning to end. I enjoy all the musician's idiosyncratic plays on the past masters as well as the more sophisticated approach of adapting them to the modern age. Both vocalists work in tandem and it's usually impossible to distinguish that there are indeed two vocalists participating. With a knack for interesting compositional zigzags through stylistic changes that intuitively keep the tracks exciting, i find MOTIONS OF DESIRE to be an excellent piece of modern prog that straddles the perfect fence that divides the dreamy folk placidity and the heavy energetic rocking side of their style. MAGIC PIE are genii at melodic flow as they manage to create a super lengthy album (a feature i usually shy away from) and keep me entertained on repeated listens. Strong melodies, strong compositions with respectful reverence to tradition. My kinda album!

 Motions Of Desire by MAGIC PIE album cover Studio Album, 2005
3.84 | 287 ratings

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Motions Of Desire
Magic Pie Symphonic Prog

Review by Neu!mann
Prog Reviewer

3 stars For anyone old enough to recall Progressive Rock's Golden Age, the opening moments of Magic Pie's year 2005 debut album will trigger a thrilling sense of déjà vu, like a time machine transplanted from the early 21st century to the summer of 1974.

"Change" is the name of that initial piece of the Pie: an epic twenty-minute slice of textbook Prog moods and emotions, obviously intended as the band's signature track, and rightfully so. But at a certain point along the roller coaster it becomes hard to avoid the suspicion that the song's title is a little misleading, and that every headlong 'change' in musical speed, style and direction is actually more contrived than natural.

The explicit aim of the new band was "to create progressive textures in the spirit of the '70s" (quoting the CD notes), which would seem to offer an invitation to rehash the old, ongoing Progressive vs. Prog debate. In this instance the Magic Piemakers followed their mandate to the letter, and with a concentrated focus bordering on tunnel vision.

That's the good news. The downside is that despite all the vintage Prog embellishments - rapid cycle time signatures; florid soloing; hyperbolic melodicism - there's a conservatism to their method at odds with their stated ideals. Unlike the band's pioneering role models, these guys aren't young kids trying to 'change' the world (there's that word again) through a revolutionary bridging of musical and cultural barriers. As seen in the portrait inside the CD booklet, this is a capable group of seasoned professionals, following a retrograde creative impulse: Mainstream Prog, in other words, which ought to be an oxymoron but too often isn't.

None of which diminishes the album's cosmetic pleasures, which are considerable. Ignoring the sometimes heavy-handed Neo Prog schmaltz of the title track (thankfully the shortest song here), and some occasional cod-reggae riffing in "Full Circle Poetry", you'll find a surplus of upbeat instrumental showmanship, presented with real skill, if not much subtlety.

But the group never succeeds in translating the homage into a style of their own. Hardly surprising, given their true source of inspiration: not the original progressive trailblazers from the 1970s, but modern copycat acts like THE FLOWER KINGS and SPOCK'S BEARD. You might never guess, from their Anglo-Symphonic sound and fluent English lyrics, that Magic Pie actually hail from northern Scandinavia.

The bottom line is 75-minutes of second-hand Prog Rock mimicry, twice removed from its musical taproot. But the silver lining, to listeners of a certain age, is that a false memory can sometimes shine almost as bright as the real thing.

 King For A Day by MAGIC PIE album cover Studio Album, 2015
3.78 | 167 ratings

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King For A Day
Magic Pie Symphonic Prog

Review by Progrussia

3 stars Magic Pie albums are like a prog orgy - liberally and populistically quoting all your favorite prog giants, plus the organ-drenched hard rock of Deep Purple and even some Dream Theater-esque shredding tendencies, and their own past work, in the process. That said, King for a Day has their probably punchiest production to date, bordering on prog metal-lite at times, and the most detailed vocal harmonies. In other respects this is your typical Magic Pie album, featuring a share of ear-friendly rockers, a pair of 12-minute, more balladic songs, and, of course, the obligatory 20 minute-plus epic that is a Magic Pie album all into itself.
 King For A Day by MAGIC PIE album cover Studio Album, 2015
3.78 | 167 ratings

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King For A Day
Magic Pie Symphonic Prog

Review by Windhawk
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars Norwegian band MAGIC PIE has been a presence in the Norwegian music scene for more than a decade to date, and from the release of their debut album "Motions of Desire" back in 2005 it has become a popular band also in the international circuit. "King for a Day" is their long-awaited fourth studio album, and was released in May 2015 through Karisma Records.

Magic Pie has an established reputation as providers of hard-edged symphonic progressive rock internationally, and with their fourth album "King for a Day" they will further enhance that reputation. A solid, high-quality production through and through, easily recommended to existing fans of the band, amd also to those with a general taste for harder edged progressive rock of the symphonic variety.

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