Norwegian Proggers, Magic Pie, release this, their 4th album at the end of May and, after ten long years since their last release, this is a definite “dear diary” event for diehard fans. Formed in the dawn of the new millennium, their work rate has been steady, if not exactly prolific and gives credence to the old adage, quality over quantity.
Until recently, Magic Pie have managed to slip beneath my radar, so I've spent some time listening to their back catalogue for the purpose of comparison and, I have to say, I have enjoyed doing so.
King For A Day is proficiently executed and very well put together, thanks to the contribution and expert hand of Rich Mouser whose CV includes the likes of Spock's Beard and Transatlantic, a fact which clearly manifests itself throughout. This album positively bursts with energy; the harmonies are as tight as a drum and the swirling keys of Gilbert Marshall are nothing short of beautiful. Each track flows seamlessly between phrases and, in places, I found the music uplifting to the extent that the hairs on the back of my neck actually bristled. However (and I hate to be a party pooper here), as good as it is, I can't actually see it lighting any fires of innovation. On the whole, I found it fairly formulaic and familiar. To put it another way, it would appear that a dozen or so “off the shelf” riffs and breaks have been selected from the prog larder.
Although definitely not plagiarised, I could hear influences from Yes, Spock's Beard, Anathema, Dream Theater and even a smattering of ELO (not ELP!). Eirick Hanssen's vocals are most certainly strong and clearly enunciated, but sometimes come across as a little melodramatic and often more befitting of a heavy metal outfit.
Although familiar in construct to countless other albums, there were plenty of original ideas and, all in all, I found it a pretty decent way to pass 71 minutes. Whilst I don't think I would be tempted to rush out and buy the album, I think it's a definite staple for any fan of prog metal.
After listening to their previous offerings it is clear that Magic Pie is not a band to be stuck in a rut. On the contrary they appear to expand their boundaries with each new project. This, for me, is the true hallmark of creativity and bodes well for the continuing evolution of this talented collection of musicians.
***+ Sue Doyle
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