Magenta - Seven

Year of Release: 2004
Label: F2 Music
Catalog Number: 200403
Format: CD
Total Time: 74:43:00

The long awaited new album from Magenta is finally here, and it was well worth the wait.

This is a fairly simple concept on the face of it - seven tracks based on each of the seven deadly sins. But in fact there is slightly more to it than that. Rather than simply being about sin itself, the lyrics of each song actually illustrate a particular facet of each sin in a more interesting way.

Initially, one of the things that impresses is the sound quality of the whole album. The band's debut album Revolutions, excellent though it was, could occasionally sound a little sparse musically. The addition of the orchestra helps enormously, and thankfully it dovetails beautifully into the songs rather than sounding tacked-on. Often Orchestra's are used in prog just to lay lots of strings and occasionally brass over the songs, but that is certainly not the case here.

Opener "Gluttony" already sounds like an old favourite, having been played live a few times, and also been available to download from the website for a couple of weeks now. Acapella vocals take us into the songs slightly off-kilter but bouncy rhythm, with Rob adding some lovely synth runs and flourishes. But the track really kicks into gear when Christina belts out those first few lines, "No life for the future", which have been going round in my head for weeks now. The song goes through many interesting changes, and includes a slightly creepy Peter Gabriel style spoken passage, and ends with a searing slide guitar solo from Chris Fry.

"Envy" has a bit of a Genesis feel to it, but that's no surprise as the band has always been very upfront about their influences. A very strong main theme here, with an "Entangled"-like slow paced mid section, incorporating acoustic guitar, pipe organ and slightly ethereal synthesiser, before the song is brought back to life with Rob Reed's keyboards and Chris Fry's guitar dancing around the main melody.

"Lust" begins with an orchestral opening. Thematically this is a sort of sequel to "White Witch" from Revolutions. A somewhat joyously perverse upbeat song, considering the subject matter - especially the jaunty, happy "Confess, and save your soul" lyric. Who'd have thought a song about witchcraft could be so jolly? It features great clean guitar lines, some wonderful catchy vocal hooks, and an enjoyable jazzy mid section, ending with a somewhat funky fade out. I particularly liked the subtle and imaginative use of the orchestra in the jazzier section.

"Greed" is the longest track on the album, similar to the epics on Revolutions. Lots of great melodies that flow effortlessly into one another, without sounding like they have been pieced together in the way that a lot of prog epics can, are found here. It is somewhat of an indictment on the theme of modern celebrity, with a bit of a Sunset Boulevard feel to it. For some reason, I cannot help but be reminded of Simon and Garfunkel's "America" when Christina sings the "Don't look now, I think it's a camera" line.

Anger slows the pace down a little, opening with delicate acoustic guitar, building slowly, but developing into something very intense and powerful. Christina's soulful, plaintive vocals are very impressive here, and the song showcases great guitar work, especially the lovely, fluid solo at the end.

"Pride" is another standout song. A quiet opening gives way to a typically anthemic, grandiose synth/guitar led fanfare. This has an interesting and very catchy vocal intro from Christina, before the band kick into a strident, driving Hammond organ led beat, with some nice Squire like bass runs. There is some interesting multi-tracked vocal work from Rob and Christina here, which may not be that easy to reproduce live. However, having seen them do it, I know they are more than capable of reworking the songs successfully for the live versions. Bit of a Yes feel to this one and it has a superb "Irish (or is that Scottish?) jig" section in the middle with keyboards, violins and guitar. From here the song just slips into a joyously infectious groove that makes you want to sway along to it, and continues through to the climax, with Christina repeating "Every time the sun shines down on me." No wonder this is proving to be a great live favourite.

"Sloth" is a lament for the plight of the American Indian. Another slower paced song, but I like the contrast and balance of it as opposed to the all out prog numbers. The piece features a heavily orchestrated opening, haunting piano notes, and Christina singing her lungs out on a very strong chorus. Good to see Martin Shellard from the first album on guitar here, and very fine he is, too, contributing a suitably intense and tortured guitar solo to bring the song to a satisfying conclusion.

The band has really developed the knack of working very strong hooks and melodies into the songs, with each one constantly evolving, changing. They now have a definite, recognisable style of their own, though there are the obvious influences. In fact, on occasions I find that they remind me a little of some of the great Italian prog bands, especially Le Orme.

Christina is certainly the focal point of the band. She has a superb and distinctive voice, slightly folksy, occasionally reminding me of Joni Mitchell and Stevie Nicks. I think Christina stretches herself more on this album, sounding delicate and fragile, soulful, jazzy and rocky - and sometimes all in the space of one song.

Mention should also be made of the bands first single, "Broken." This is 3 and a half minutes of the band's trademark style but with a nod to a slightly more modern and contemporary sound. It has a catchy and memorable chorus, a very good vocal from Christina (it was actually written by her), and is a bit of a grower. The single also contains 4 other bonus and previously unreleased tracks which are well worth listening to. In fact, the single and album can be ordered together at a special low price from the bands website.

I think overall this is a more accessible album than Revolutions, and I urge you strongly to check it out.

Actually, I would say the band now have enough material here now for a live album. How about it, guys?

Gluttony (12:04) / Envy (9:42) / Lust (12:22) / Greed (13:49) / Anger (5:11) / Pride (12:09) / Sloth (10:06)

Christina - vocals
Rob Reed - vocals, bass guitar, keyboards, electric & acoustic guitars, tambourine
Tim Robinson - drums
Chris Fry - lead guitar

Revolutions (2001)
Seven (2004)
Broken (EP) (2004)
Another Time... Another Place (2004)
I'm Alive (EP) (2004)
Home (2006)
Night And Day (w/Annie Haslam) (2006)
New York Suite (2006)
The Singles (2007)
Metamorphosis (2008)
Live At The Point 2007 (2008)
Seven (ltd CD/DVD, remixed/remastered) (2009)
Live At Read World (2010)
The Gathering (2010)
Live: On OUr Way To Knows Where (2012)
Chameleon (2011)
The Lizard King E.P. (EP) (2013)
The Twenty Seven Club (2013)
Trojan E.P. (2017)
We Are Legend (2017)

The Gathering (DVD) (2005)
The Metamorphosis Collection (DVD) (2008)
Live At The Point 2007 (DVD) (2009)
Chaos From The Stage (DVD) (2016)

Genre: Progressive Rock

Origin UK

Added: March 22nd 2004
Reviewer: John Morley

Artist website:
Hits: 1878
Language: english


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