What do you get when you combine the ingredients Deep Purple, Kansas, Dream Theater, Genesis, The Flower Kings, Spock's Beard, and Pink Floyd? Well, Magic Pie of course! Now on their fifth studio album, this great Norwegian act hopefully are at a point where all the critical acclaim & support from the prog underground can catapult them to wider acceptance, as their brand of combining pop hooks with muscular '70s styled hard rock and vintage progressive rock is tailor made for music lovers of all ages. The current line-up of Magic Pie consists of:
Kim Stenberg - guitars and vocals
Eirikur Hauksson - lead vocals
Erling Henanger - keyboards and backing vocals
Eirik Hanssen - vocals
Lars Petter Holstad - bass and backing vocals
Jan T. Johannessen - drums
Things kick off with the accessible "The Man Who Had It All", a tune with great hooks and plenty of rock muscle, which then leads into the proggier "P & C", another hook laden piece that also features some sensational guitar licks courtesy of Stenberg and Henanger's array of vintage keyboard sounds. Kinda like Deep Purple meets ELP in spots. "Table For Two" is highly engaging, a bright, upbeat song again with hooks aplenty (Spock's Beard fans will love this one) thanks to some great vocals from Hauksson, acoustic & electric guitar work perfectly layered together from Stenberg and a sizzling synth solo from Henanger. Prog meets blues on the emotional "Touched By An Angel", Hauksson singing his heart out and Stenberg dropping some blazing guitar solos, before the band launch into the near 23-minute finale "The Hedonist". Of course, this is the big, complex, prog rock epic on the album, close to prog-metal in spots, especially when the heavy riffs and dazzling guitar & synth battles are happening, but the band still weave in the catchy, symphonic rock elements as well, complete with soaring vocals dripping with melodic hooks. However, if you really want to hear the band stretch out and lay down some jaw dropping musicality, this of course is the tune for you, and there are some nice jazzy & folky bits thrown in for good measure that only further increase the musical bliss.
Can't say I'm enamored with the album cover, but that's a minor quibble on what is otherwise a fantastic album from Magic Pie, a band that has so far delivered a home run every step of the way in their short but stellar career. Do not miss this one!
1 The Man Who Had It All 5:25
2 P & C 5:34
3 Table For Two 4:07
4 Touched By An Angel 8:04
5 The Hedonist 22:58