Magica – Center Of The Great Unknown
Center Of The Great Unknown
I’ve been a Magica fan for quite a few years now, enjoying their speedy, highly melodic style combined with the wicked vocals of Ana Mladinovici. In preparation for this review, I spent a day playing Magica’s entire discography, in order, so I could get a sense of their evolution over their six studio albums. Without a doubt, Ana’s voice has become higher in range and much more powerful over the years, and this new album, Center Of The Great Unknown, excellently showcases her talent. When I played the first song off of Lightseeker, the band’s first album, last weekend, I couldn’t believe how much lower her range was. She really has become one of the powerhouses of female fronted metal, even though her style isn’t as classically-inspired as many of her counterparts’ are.
The Center Of The Great Unknown serves up the typically hooky power metal we fans are used to getting from this band, though I think this album is their slickest-sounding yet, after some of their initial awkwardness in earlier years. The guitar solos, competently performed by main-man and one of the two remaining original members, Bogdan Costea (Ana is the other), are on par with some of the best in the genre, and Bogdan has always been one of Magica’s biggest assets.
The songwriting on this CD is very catchy; there isn’t a single un-catchy song here, but there is some filler. “Open” is one example, “The Earth Is Young” is another. Though I liked what I heard on this album, I couldn’t shake the feeling that this album is less complex and a bit blander than my favorite from the band, Dark Diary. There are some great songs here. The title track is jumpy and gets the old juices flowing, as does the rather anthemic “King Of The World”. “Masterspell” is also very good, as is “One Angry Gaia.” Those were the highlights for me.
Which brings me to my Big Beef: there are no keys on this album! Where has the magical Six Fingers, the band’s longtime keyboardist, disappeared to? Who knows?! All I can say is that without him, and without keyboards, Magica does not sound the same at all. The music sounds emptier, it lacks the specialness that Six Fingers brought to the table. Gone are the pretty, tinkly melodies, the gorgeous piano and synth arrangements. What Magica has done this time round is use Bogdan’s guitar skills to provide the melodies, and a rhythm guitarist, Emilian Burcea to do the main riffing. While it’s not terrible, and Bogdan is very good at what he does, I can’t help but feel that Magica is a lot less special than they used to be with Six Fingers.
Also missing, at least to my ear, are the nice vocal harmonies that were a big part of their sound. They have gone a more simplistic route with their backing vocals. So there are two elements not in Center Of The Great Unknown that make this album very different from previous releases. While I enjoyed this album, I didn’t think it was spectacular. It’s got great hooks, some great guitar playing, and Ana sounds better than ever, but Magica seems to have lost a bit of its magic for me.
Allyson’s rating: 3.0 out of 5