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TRACK LIST: 1. Trojan 25:58 2. Colours 10:48 3. Legend 11:22 LINEUP: Robert Reed – keyboards; guitars Christina Booth – vocals Chris Fry – guitars Dan Nelson – bass Jon Griffiths – drums
Prolusion. The UK band MAGENTA has been among the more popular of the relatively recent progressive rock bands ever since they appeared with "Revolutions" back in 2001. So far they have more than a dozen of studio and live albums to their name. "We Are Legend" is their most recent studio album, and was released in the spring of 2017.
Analysis. Magenta is one of those bands that have always surprised me in one specific context: I've never understood why they haven't been signed to any of the big labels in the progressive rock scene. It may be a case of the band being able to and desiring to do everything themselves, I guess, but still. If there is a band out there that should be signed to a label like InsideOut or possibly even Frontiers, Magenta is that band. They do make compelling music with a fairly broad appeal, inside a distinct progressive rock context, and they have qualities that warrant an even bigger audience being aware of them than what is the case now. "We Are Legend" is a case in point, an album consisting of three epic-length compositions, where the opening track clocks in at just over 26 minutes. A grand statement on all levels, but also delivered by a band sure about what they want to do, how to accomplish it, and executing it all with style. And they do it in such a compelling manner that I rather fancy even people without a deeper interest in progressive rock would be charmed by the band and the music they deliver. The often frail and always perfectly controlled lead vocals of Christina Booth are a key identity mark of the band. She opts for a more careful delivery, only occasionally adding some steel to her delivery, and while her voice comes across as delicate and even unobtrusive, whenever there is a vocal part she manages to take full control of those sequences, her voice soaring above the instrumentation. She adds truckloads of emotion to the material in a very careful and deliberate manner, shying away from from being overly dramatic also in cases where many other vocalists may have opted for a more forceful delivery. In this way her voice is at times a contrast to arrangements that at times are more majestic and grandiose, in essence making the music more rather than less accessible by restraining the use of a more expressive vocal style. All three of the album’s compositions share a few common characteristic also beyond the lead vocals. Magenta has a tendency to include a number of passages that I will generally reference as Pink Floydian: movements, passages and sequences reminding of later day Pink Floyd. These tend to be dark in atmosphere, frequently revolving around a classic guitar and organ combination, although in this case there are also a few interludes here and there of a sparser and arguably even ambient overall nature that reflects back to the most commercially successful albums released by Pink Floyd. Another shared aspect is sequences where the band hits off with what I would describe as a contemporary sounding version of symphonic progressive rock. Beyond that, the three compositions come with their own subtle differences. The massive opening epic Trojan also includes passages with a firmer and more guitar driven sound as well as some rather elegant and atmospheric neo-prog oriented passages. Second track Colours focuses a bit more on the contemporary symphonic progressive rock aspect of the band’s sound, while the concluding epic Legend revolves more heavily around alterations in intensity between the frail and the majestic, use electronic effects in a bit more liberal manner than on the rest of the album, and also features some of the darkest atmospheres explored on it. While I do not consider this album to be a masterpiece, this is one of those albums that may grow in stature over the years, one of those CDs that may well reveal its greater qualities over time and on repeated inspections. As it is, it is still a solid, high quality production that should find favor among many progressive rock fans, and quite a few fans of sophisticated and well made rock music also outside of the progressive rock boundaries, I'd imagine.
Conclusion. Just about anyone with an interest in well made, sophisticated yet also accessible progressive rock in general and perhaps even more so those with a passion for the symphonic oriented varieties of this style should already be well aware of the UK band Magenta and their take on that particular aspect of the genre. "We Are Legend" is a quality example of that kind of progressive rock, and a production that warrants a check by those who tend to fancy music of this nature – a high-quality CD of modern symphonic progressive rock and one that should have a broad general appeal.
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