CD Review Sea of Tranquility (USA) Rating 5/5

..."There's a reason why Norway's Magic Pie have been hailed as one of the greatest progressive rock bands of the modern era. Yes, they are that damn good."

By Jan T. Johannessen

Magic Pie: The Suffering Joy

There's a reason why Norway's Magic Pie have been hailed as one of the greatest progressive rock bands of the modern era. Yes, they are that damn good. If their first two releases Motions of Desire and Circus of Life didn't quite convince you, then wait till you get your hands on The Suffering Joy, their latest release on Progress Records. This is a band that is just firing on all cylinders, and have once again created a masterpiece.

Magic Pie have gone through a line-up change since their last album, with vocalist Allan Olsen leaving the band and being replaced by former Artch and current Ken Hensley lead singer Eirikur Hauksson. Not a step has been lost however, as the band are still delivering their potent brand of hard driving & epic progressive rock. Kicking off with the 4-part multi-suite epic "A Life's Work", Magic Pie hit the listener with all the elements that have made them such a beloved act on the prog rock scene for the last few years; searing yet melodic guitar work, powerful vocals, soaring harmonies, aggressive keyboard passages, intricate rhythms, and complex yet catchy, epic styled songs. Hauksson proves to be the perfect addition here, coupling up with Eirik Hansen for a formidable vocal duo, and the two soar to the heavens on the near 18-minute "Pt. 4-The Suffering Joy" amidst an amalgam of tasty guitar solos and majestic keyboards.

Elsewhere on the CD, you get the acoustic ballad "Endless Ocean", the Flower Kings inspired heavy prog of "Headlines" (great guitar, Hammond & synth work here), the complex Deep Purple/Uriah Heep barnburner "Slightly Mad" ( a real workout for keyboard player Gilbert Marshall & guitarist Kim Stenberg), the scorching 15-minute epic "Tired", complete with stabbing synth lines, fusion styled drum work, and majestic guitar melodies, and the dark, atmospheric, and the dreamy closer "In Memoriam".

If you can only get one prog-rock CD this year, The Suffering Joy should be that CD. Even though it's early in 2011, there's no doubt that this latest from Magic Pie will be near the top of the list when we start to take a look in December at the best this year had to offer. Highly recommended!

Track Listing
A Life's Work
1) Pt. 1-Questions Unanswered
2) Pt. 2-Overture
3) Pt. 3-A Brand New Day
4) Pt. 4-The Suffering Joy
5) Headlines
6) Endless Ocean
7) Slightly Mad
8) Tired
9) In Memoriam

Added: January 30th 2011
Reviewer: Pete Pardo
Score: *****

Sea of Tranquility

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