Magic Pie - 'King For A Day'

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Magic Pie - 'King For A Day'

2015 is shaping up to be a nightmare for choosing my "Top Five Albums Of The Year" as this is yet another candidate.

It's been too long since Magic Pie's last album ('The Suffering Joy' in 2011) with both a studio fire and a personnel change impacting progress; however, the good news is the wait has been more than worth it because this album is splendid. I'm sure anyone with a penchant for Prog, in all its guises, will relish the content. I listened to nothing else for two weeks and still keep returning to it.

With '...Joy' the band shifted their sound in a slightly heavier direction, adding some Spock's Beard style aggression to the previously more (The) Flower Kings orientated base. Evident on '...Day' is that they've injected even heavier elements, including Prog Metal à la Dream Theater, but importantly doing so without undermining their innate ability to produce the most wonderful melodies, themes, unforgettable choruses and refrains, all of which were what attracted me to the band in the first place.

The TFK, Neal Morse and SB comparisons persist but now the palette includes inflections of Transatlantic, the occasional quirkiness of 10CC and A.C.T along with some Derek Sherinian and Deep Purple-esque Hammond Organ, plus hints of Queensrÿche, Kamelot and the aforementioned DT. What they've managed to do, quite brilliantly, is meld classic Prog with both its modern variants and Hard Rock elements, thereby creating a superb collection of songs.

When I explain that the opening track, 'Trick Of The Trade', features almost all of these elements it may sound over-ambitious and a recipe for confusion but in reality it works in spectacular fashion with the song moving seamlessly between symphonic, prosaic and heavy sections without ever coming across as being disparate bits that have been haphazardly bolted together.

All six tracks are wonderful but special mention has to be made of the epic (in every sense) title track which clocks in at twenty-seven minutes (the others are between six and twelve minutes in duration). It encompasses everything that's good in the world of Prog with a lilting piano opening before guitars and synths burst in with an infectious theme. This wonderful instrumental fanfare is just the start as the song weaves its way through multiple different passages which flow into one and other without hesitation or giving the feeling of being contrived. It's a joyride and features any number of moments where the changes are executed so beautifully that I find myself smiling at the brilliance. The vocal harmonies are delightful throughout the album but especially so on this track. It rivals Transatlantic at their best.

2015 is shaping up to be a nightmare for choosing my "Top Five Albums Of The Year" as this is yet another candidate.

Gary Marshall

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