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 heading down and stay focused as I just didn’t want to miss anything that was going on. Gentle Giant is 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 takes 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.
9/10 Kev Rowland