(30 March 2008) Magenta continue to go from strength to strength. Over the two years since the release of their last full length album, the band were chosen to perform at everso exclusive NEARfest and have since drawn attention from progressive rock audiences worldwide. Despite Magenta's lineup changes in the last year, core members Rob Reed and Christina Booth have also completed very successful side projects both together and apart since the band's last full length release.
To name just a few, other significant achievements include the release of the Trippa album Sorry (review), the ChimpanA self-titled album (review) and Tina's outstanding performance in Caamora's She project both on stage and in the studio (review). The Tigermoth Records label was also established.
Metamorphosis (Tigermoth Records (UK) CDTMR006, 2008) is Magenta's fifth full length album. Interestingly the 53-minute single CD contains just four progressive rock tracks. Two tracks run over 20 minutes and there are two significantly shorter numbers but the overall album is a clear development of the band's sound.
Some have called the style "angular" meaning more Yes-like, but others will hear all of the traditional elements that make Magenta great: stunning layers of Christina's crystalline vocals, sweeping symphonic and orchestral keyboard arrangements, lush live strings and and massive guitar excursions. Dan Fry's bass playing is reminscent of both Chris Squire (Yes) and Jon Camp (Renaissance). The band's sound has also further evolved with the addition of Troy Donockley's (Iona) extensive Uilleann pipe passages. Everyone agrees that Metamorphosis is Magenta's finest album to date.
Metamorphosis not only sounds great but it is quite an interesting album. The dissonance, the chaotic yet ordered tempo changes are typically Magenta. The changes in key are in line with Rob Reed's creative mind. True, it looks to Yes for inspiration but it is not like Yes were. It compliments that fine band but is far removed from Steve Howe et al. It is a logical extension of Magenta's creativity, the name of the album recognising that fact. There is also a dash of Pink Floyd in the mix. One of the Pink's finest albums was Meddle and hearing it all over again was quite wonderful.
Upon further listens, the album is amazing, incredible, superlative! Clearly the best since Revolutions. Listn for the influences. Bass like Chris Squire or Stanley Clarke. There is a bit of Vangelis there, as well as Camel. There's also some Mike Oldfield in there too somewhere. Chris Fry may get a bit carried away with the guitar now and again but listeners will adore it. Also listen for sudden key changes and they way the tempo goes off on wild tangents as well as the the sudden melodic changes that are like nothing heard before. It's chaotic yet it's so organised.
The long opening track "The Ballad Of Samuel Layne" comprises complex passages and recurring themes and demonstrates that Reed has found the balance between self-indulgence and sensibility when creating epic progressive tracks. Magenta are a fine twenty-first century rock band, and they continue to inspire many others along the way. Christina's lead and harmony vocals are superb. She oozes sex appeal and professionalism. It is no wonder that she continues to receive the best female vocalist award by the Classic Rock Society.
As if to show sharp contrast of short to long, the gently arranged interlude, entitled "Prekestolen," lies between the album's opening and second epic, that is the self-titled "Metamorphosis." Previewed during 2007 to live audiences and thematically evolved in the studio since, its guitar riffs draw fond recollections of Close To The Edge Yes with Magenta's interpretation of Renaissance in patches. The album's track collection is woven together seamlessley as a symphony transcending from one movement to the next right into the closing number, the moderate length but well-arranged "Blind Faith."
Magenta plan an April release of The Metamorphosis Collection DVD. It will comprise over two hours of video and the new album in Dolby 5.1 surround. Until then, enjoy Magenta's tremendous new CD Metamorphosis. The year is off to an exciting start!--Richard Moloney in Dublin, Ireland and Russ Elliot in New York