Magic Pie: The Suffering Joy
There's a reason why Norway's Magic Pie have been hailed as one of the greatest progressive rock bands of the modern era. Yes, they are that damn good. If their first two releases Motions of Desire and Circus of Life didn't quite convince you, then wait till you get your hands on The Suffering Joy, their latest release on Progress Records. This is a band that is just firing on all cylinders, and have once again created a masterpiece.
Magic Pie have gone through a line-up change since their last album, with vocalist Allan Olsen leaving the band and being replaced by former Artch and current Ken Hensley lead singer Eirikur Hauksson. Not a step has been lost however, as the band are still delivering their potent brand of hard driving & epic progressive rock. Kicking off with the 4-part multi-suite epic "A Life's Work", Magic Pie hit the listener with all the elements that have made them such a beloved act on the prog rock scene for the last few years; searing yet melodic guitar work, powerful vocals, soaring harmonies, aggressive keyboard passages, intricate rhythms, and complex yet catchy, epic styled songs. Hauksson proves to be the perfect addition here, coupling up with Eirik Hansen for a formidable vocal duo, and the two soar to the heavens on the near 18-minute "Pt. 4-The Suffering Joy" amidst an amalgam of tasty guitar solos and majestic keyboards.
Elsewhere on the CD, you get the acoustic ballad "Endless Ocean", the Flower Kings inspired heavy prog of "Headlines" (great guitar, Hammond & synth work here), the complex Deep Purple/Uriah Heep barnburner "Slightly Mad" ( a real workout for keyboard player Gilbert Marshall & guitarist Kim Stenberg), the scorching 15-minute epic "Tired", complete with stabbing synth lines, fusion styled drum work, and majestic guitar melodies, and the dark, atmospheric, and the dreamy closer "In Memoriam".
If you can only get one prog-rock CD this year, The Suffering Joy should be that CD. Even though it's early in 2011, there's no doubt that this latest from Magic Pie will be near the top of the list when we start to take a look in December at the best this year had to offer. Highly recommended!
(Publisher's Note-I failed to note or give credit to the incredible artwork from Thomas Ewerhard that adorns this digipack release. It's quite a feast for the eyes!)
A Life's Work
1) Pt. 1-Questions Unanswered
2) Pt. 2-Overture
3) Pt. 3-A Brand New Day
4) Pt. 4-The Suffering Joy
6) Endless Ocean
7) Slightly Mad
9) In Memoriam
Added: February 26th 2011
Reviewer: Pete Pardo
Related Link: Band Website
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|Magic Pie: The Suffering Joy
Posted by Jeff B, SoT Staff Writer on 2011-02-26 08:08:24
The latest outing from Norwegian progressive rock band Magic Pie has been garnering rave reviews in most prog circles, and after hearing The Suffering Joy for myself, it's not hard to understand why. I have no hesitation in calling Magic Pie's third full-length album one of the best progressive rock albums of the "new"-era. Although my interest in the modern symphonic prog scene has waxed and waned over time, Magic Pie's third effort is one of the best things I've heard in a long while. My first listen to The Suffering Joy left me speechless, and every other consecutive listen further increased my enjoyment. This was my introduction to Magic Pie, and I think it's a great place for anyone to check out these Norwegian behemoths.
The music on The Suffering Joy is symphonic progressive rock with obvious influences from The Flower Kings, Spock's Beard, IQ, Transatlantic, Genesis, and Yes. Although one could criticize Magic Pie for wearing their influences on their sleeve, the end result is still unique and (most importantly) expertly crafted. The frequent vocal harmonies especially remind me of The Flower Kings, and Magic Pie pulls off these harmonies every bit as excellently as their Swedish neighbors. In the music itself, there are melodic neo-prog sections, jazzy electric piano and guitar bits, and even some borderline-metal riffs. This is a fairly unique and eclectic album, and never does Magic Pie come across as a "clone band" of any sort.
The album opens up with the monster 27-minute, 4 part epic titled "A Life's Work". Filled with everything that a prog fan could possibly dream of, this epic could really give Transatlantic a run for their money. The next track, "Headlines", has a bit more of a neo-prog flavor and is another highlight. The short acoustic "Endless Ocean" is a beautiful track and actually one of my favorites as well. "Slightly Mad" is a heavier symphonic piece that even hints towards the heaviness and complexity of Echolyn. "Tired" is a softer song that nods especially in the direction of IQ or Pendragon. This 15+ minute epic is yet another brilliant highlight. "In Memoriam" is a stellar conclusion to this masterpiece, and yet another expertly crafted song from Magic Pie. This is an album with "all filler, no killer", so to speak. Try as I might, finding a weak spot is a difficult task.
One of the best things about Magic Pie is their talent as musicians, vocally and instrumentally. In addition to the breathtaking vocal harmonies I've mentioned earlier, the band is one of the most musically gifted out there. Add in a terrific production with a professional sound, and you have one of the most aesthetically pleasing prog rock albums in recent memory.
I was blown away at first listen by The Suffering Joy, and my satisfaction has only increased over time. Magic Pie is a relatively new band to me, but this masterpiece assures that they won't ever fall off my radar. The Suffering Joy can honestly be considered one of the finest modern prog albums I've ever heard - and I've heard more than my share of those! I'll give this a 5 star masterpiece stamp and an "essential purchase" label for any prog rock fan. Expressing my excitement about this album in review form is difficult, but the only thing anyone needs to gather from this review can be summed up in one word - MASTERPIECE!
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