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Maegi: Skies Fall

Maegi would appear to be a band and a project at the same time, what with Turkish guitarist and vocalist Oganalp Canatan creating the conceptual piece Skies Fall with a band of fellow Turks, while adding in an impressive cast list of some of the finest metal singers money can buy. Hansi Kursch (Blind Guardian) shows up, Tim (I'll sing on it!) "Ripper" Owens unsurprisingly does too, but then so do Circle II Circle/Savatage singer Zak Stevens, and Grave Digger frontman Chris Boltendahl. Add to that guitarist Jerry Outlaw - fret flayer with Jon Oliva's Pain and all Canatan had to do was turn up with a collection of convincing metal anthems and a storyline depicting the devastation of Earth through alien invasion and how humanity needs to come together to have a chance of defeating such a foe, and everything would be just tickety-boo. Thankfully he does just that, although with his ties to Dreamtone and Iris Mavraki's Neverland, that is no great shock.

With a list of names like those involved here, it wouldn't take a super sleuth to deduce that Maegi are a power metal outfit. Hints of Iron Maiden being led more obviously by the theatrical power of Savatage, the symphonic bombast of Kamelot and a touch of progression in the guise of Dream Theater. However there's no doubt that while a showering of big name guests is basically the norm now, Skies Fall benefits hugely from some stunning vocal contributions. Kursch provides a captivatingly theatric performance on the restrained acoustic guitar led "Those We have Left Behind", while Owens strides purposefully through "Demise Of Hope", giving the type of confident display that has made him such a mainstay of "project" albums. Credit though goes to Canatan, as he has had the belief to offer the likes of Owens something a little outside of the usual fare he is asked to contribute to, with a deep resonating performance almost verging into speaking in tune. Although the choir laden "Communications Breakdown" does offer a more familiar surrounding for Trans Siberian Zak Stevens. That leaves Boltendahl with the duty of opening the album with the suitably strutting title track, where stabs of strings add atmosphere, while the vocals and guitars head off into an altogether more aggressive direction. Canatan fronts the other six tracks himself, which he does well enough, although being surrounded by such vocal luminaries makes his voice sound a little ordinary, something which might not have been quite so apparent if he'd taken sole lead across all of this album. A definite case of taking the rough with the smooth...

Guitar wise Canatan fares much better, with his fiery outbursts being of the highest quality, while Onur Ozkoc and obviously Outlaw add more beef and bustle to the whole thing. However it is his expert arranging of choirs, various singers, keyboard crescendos and insistent guitar led themes that ultimately make Skies Fall the success it is. Even if most of the tracks suffer slightly by following a similar path of having a scene setting keyboard introduction before the song kicks in proper.

Will humanity survive against tremendous odds and superior technology as Skies Fall? You might be surprised by the outcome, while being convinced by the album and the story it tells.

Track Listing
1. Skies Fall
2. No Response
3. Communications Breakdown
4. Take No Prisoners
5. Hide And Seek
6. Those We Have Left Behind
7. A Different Fate
8. Resistance
9. Demise Of Hope
10. In Silence

Added: July 15th 2014
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: The Maegi Online
Hits: 2086
Language: english

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Maegi: Skies Fall
Posted by Murat Batmaz, SoT Staff Writer on 2014-07-15 03:33:52
My Score:

Maegi may be a new name to some, but the man behind the project is Oganalp Canatan, who has released several albums with his first band Dreamtone as well as his international project Neverland (with Greek singer Iris Mavraki). On Skies Fall, he assumes a larger role and focuses on writing, performing, and singing the songs while he also handles the mix and engineering. The result is a heavy metal disc venturing into both power and melodic metal, presenting 10 songs with hook-laden choruses, shredding guitars, and pounding rhythms. None of the songs are overtly technical or compositionally complex; most of them are within the four-minute range, wasting little time to make their point. Solos are carefully inserted in the framework and utilized to enhance the pieces rather than steal the show.

The main strength certainly lies in the international vocalists that were brought in: Circle II Circle's Zak Stevens sings on "Communications Breakdown," and while he is an all-time favourite of mine, the song lacks the gripping vocals we've come to expect from him over the years. The same thing somewhat applies to "Demise of Hopes," sung by Tim Owens. Although Ripper puts in a great performance, as expected, I feel the vocal lines don't fit his style. Grave Digger's Chris Boltendahl sings on the title track, utilizing his gritty voice. When he lays down the chorus, his raspy voice soars over the arrangement, and he does a surprisingly great job. Without doubt, fans of Blind Guardian will revel in the appearance of Hansi Kursch on the acoustic-based poignant number "Those We've Left Behind." He gives an intense, heart-rending performance, possibly because there's little instrumentation that takes away from his sheer, raw emotion coming through. While it's a great achievement for Canatan to work with his heroes (he also worked with other great names in prior projects), I feel their contribution could have been more than just singing, if they had perhaps co-written the pieces and brought in their own amazing harmonies to the fold. Truth be told, while Oganalp Canatan certainly tries hard and does his best, he is not quite there yet when it comes to penning the most memorable, emotionally engaging songs yet, either lyrically or compositionally. And even if Zak Stevens or Hansi Kursch sings his tunes, they don't impact me the way they normally should. Still, his songs are easy to enjoy, and Canatan continues to improve as a singer but does fall short amidst all these genre bests. He spices things up with the more modern-sounding "Hide and Seek," the melodically flowing "A Different Fate," and the album's finest song "In Silence," which also sees the band branching off a bit and exploring more progressive songwriting elements.

Unfortunately, the production holds the album back; everything from the riffs to the solos to the drum tone and especially the great list of singers' performances suffers due to a subpar mixing job. Even if these songs had been written to perfection, I feel the sonic quality of these pieces would fall short of doing them justice. This is not a problem peculiar to Maegi, though. Few Turkish metal bands have achieved great production values, so, for future releases, it may be in their best interest to enhance their recording techniques and possibly hook up with an international sound engineer. If that's not an option, they may consider going back to their seasoned local engineer. The two Neverland discs were not amazing in terms of production either, but they certainly sound much better than Skies Fall.

Overall, it is an impressive feat to get such amazing singers to sing on your CD, but there's always room for improvement as far as composition and sound production are concerned. I feel Oganalp Canatan's finest work is yet to come, be it with Dreamtone, Neverland, Maegi, or another project.

2004 Sea Of Tranquility
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