The last I heard about the Romanian Melodic Power Metal band MAGICA was in 2010, when they released their fifth album, “Dark Diary”. See my review here. Now, since the 12th October 2012, a new album is out: “Center Of The Great Unknown”. According to the info on Metal-Archives.com is the album based on a few books: “The Diary of Admiral R. E. Byrd”, “Godess of Atvatabar” by W. Bradshaw, “Beasts, Man and Gods” by F.A. Ossendowsky and a few more authors and adventurers.
To be honest, none of the books or authors ring a bell with me. But maybe in the future I may decide to read one or more of them. However, chances are extremely small, as I still have in my collection many tens of books to read. Still, it’s mostly a nice combination: books and Metal. Plus, it might aid people in getting to know about these books. It’s a win-win for all parties involved. The key matter with a band remains of course the music.
With “Dark Diary” I said that “MAGICA is a band that improves with each album” and so, in accordance with that, “Center Of The Great Unknown” should so far be the band’s best album. Then again, this is also food for discussion, because what is meant by best? Sound? The compositions? As is the case with every band’s album(s), there are people that like it, people that don’t like it (or like it less), all for various reasons.
The album kicks off with the title track. At first, a speech is given, followed by midtempo melodic Metal. The music is very accessible and Ana applies her operatic-ish vocals. She’s done this before, of course, but this time it sounds better, can be digested better. Previously her high notes were a little over the top. The chorus is a catchy one with the vocals carrying the melody, however helped by the guitar. Speaking of which, the two axemen set up a nice collaboration. After the dreamy bridge, halfway, it’s solo time. While melody is important, the music is still more Metal. A very good song to start with. Another highlight is “Masterspell”, which is started by the guitar and the chorus. The verses are midtempo Heavy/Power Metal with Ana’s contrasting vocals. The rhyhm is nice. Full musical volume is set in the chorus, but the flow remains the same. Solos are provided by guitars and keyboards, before the band decides the end is nigh.
This brings us to the next highlight, at least in my (humble) opinion: “King Of The World”. This song is darker, heavier and groovier. Again, the rhythm stands out and is ideal for headbanging, for example. The song’s got a nice drive as well. The contrast between vocals and guitars is also at work here. Full-on power/volume comes out, like before, in the chorus wher male backing vocals reside. And this is good. The playing is also firmer at this point. Like before, the solo splits the song in two. And the quality remains as “Open” is played. This one offers direct Metal with backing melody (keyboards?). The verses are firm, while the chorus contains the melodic aspect. A touch of shredding is implemented before instrumental talk takes over to lead the way into the solo.
So far, so very good, but to me the following two tracks were less attractive: “The Earth Is Young?” and “Step Into The Night”. The first one begins with twin-lead guitars and metallic bursts, which is nice! And then the song takes off, while the leads carry on. They in fact play the chorus line. Here too, the verses are firm and the music is tight, while vocals and guitars counter each other. Melody comes to life in the bridge ad chorus. Why is this track less attractive? Most likely because it’s more Poppy than the others. In “Step Into The Night” tension is created, followed by Metal riffing and twin leads. A powerful part follows, with Metal dominating. The vocals are good, but too often in the same tone, which annoys after a while. The chorus is a pounder… and catchy. The tension of the intro returns to announce the solo. And then it’s back to business as usual. Nothing really fancy about this song, it’s rather mediocre.
The situation improves again with “No Horizon” and its firm, melodic Metal. The Metal aspect does remind me of another band, and like the many occasions before, I fail to find the name or song. The tempo slows down in the bridge that connect with a very catchy, melodic chorus. This could easily be/have been a single. In “One Angry Gaia” the focus lies on grooving guitars. It’s also a dark song, that nevertheless has a somewhat Poppy chorus. But again, it’s ctachy. The guitarwork stands out. Tension is also created in “Mark Of Cain”, after which hell breaks loose. Of course, the band won’t change its style that much, as the songs sort of have to fit together on this album. The bridge is where the melody comes out more, it also features powerful drumming. All this links with the straight-forward, melodic chorus. All in all, another very good result, though the singing sounds at times too whiney, which is due to her way of singing.
Time for a Neo-Classical touch then: “Under The Auroras”. This is a fast song, offering double-bass Power Metal and full instumentation. Yep, the chorus line. This song is Metal, alright, and features nice leadwork. Last, there’s the bonus track “Daca”, which was re-recorded. The original can be found on the band’s debut album “The Scroll Of Stone” (2002). Lyrics are in Romanian. Not a bad track, but nothing super either.
And so, the conclusion: “Dark Diary” was very good, “Center Of The Great Unknown” is equally good, if not a little better. There’s nothing much to add, really. If you’re into bands like GWYLLION, KATRA, XANDRIA (though their style is more bombastic), EDENBRIDGE, VISIONS OF ATLANTIS and similar, then MAGICA anno 2012 should be in your collection as well.
- Center Of The Great Unknown
- King Of The World
- The Earth Is Young?
- Step Into The Night
- No Horizon
- One Angry Gaia
- Mark Of Cain
- Under The Auroras
- Daca 2012 (bonus track)
Ana Mladinovici – vocals
Bogdan Costea – guitars
Emilian Burcea – guitars
Tibi Dutu – bass
Sebastian Natas- drums