Reviews on
MAGIC PIE "Circus of life"

"This is one of those rare albums that grabs you by the ears on first listen then improves with every playing. A stunningly eclectic song cycle, Circus of Life has so much going on that it's likely to appeal equally to fans of 70's melodic prog, British folkrock, ambient space music, fusion and symphonic rock.
The album, the second by this tight Norwegian sextet, comprises three epic pieces - the 46-minute, five-part title suite and two shorter tracks, "Pointless Masquerade" and "Watching the Waters". Each is packed with so many melodic hooks you can almost hum along with some passages on first listen. The
centerpiece, "Circus of Life", is a wildly diverse romp that melds Gentle Giant-ish chorale figures, flamenco guitar breaks, Brahmsian symphonic passages, heavy prog workouts and Beatles-esque harmonies. Unpredictable and endlessly creative, Magic Pie simoultaneously embraces the conventions of classic prog, while also expandning the genre's boundaries. Highest recommendation."
Rating: 16 out of 16

"It was with a bunch load of high expectations the new album from Magic Pie called "Circus of Life" reached my CD-player. The high expectations were all because I saw this Norwegian band do an unforgettable act earlier this year (in June 2007) at Sweden Rock Festival in Sölvesborg, Sweden.

All the guys proved they had musical skills way beyond the common limits and the live performance turned out to be tighter than a mice’s ass (Oooops!). The musical influences seemed like a happy marriage between bands like Exception, Yes (the 70’s style), Kansas and King Crimson with a trace of Pink Floyd there, as well. The needle of my built in complexity meter peaked constantly through-out
the entire concert! I was simply standing in the middle of the crowd with one silly thought;
"These guys must be from The Twilight Zone"...

But now, I asked myself, could this contemporary progressive rock band with it’s heavy, jazzy and non-contemporary influences really live up to my expectations on an album? I mean compared to what they did on the marvellous live performance... Could they really transfer the same intense, glow and magical sound to the album?

Well, I’m glad to say the answer is: Yes, they could! Cause even though the songs on the album “Circus of life” without doubt picks up a hint or two from bands playing down the "Memory Lane", it all comes with a fresh package and plenty of well suited own moves. It’s modern progressive rock at it’s very best. Thinking about it, there's not many bands having succeeded in this musical genre since the late 70's. Among modern rock bands I think Magic Pie is musically most related to bands like The Flower Kings and Spock's Beard.

Back to this album; After listening to it a couple of times I can tell you I'm completely knocked out!
I could easily have counted up all the songs of the album as incredible but I especially like to mention “What if”, the over 20 minute piece “Trick of the mind” and, of course, my personal favourite “Pointless Masquerade”.

Since I play keyboards myself I very much enjoy Gilbert Marshall’s roaring epic organs, reminding
me of guys like Keith Emerson, Rick Wakeman and Ken Hensley. But the guy that really kicks me offmy chair is Magic Pie’s guitarist Kim Stenberg. His guitar work on songs like “The clown” and “Watching the waters” are nothing but awesome! The guy is David Gilmour and John Petrucci - all in one!

The powerful basses (Lars Petter Holstad) and drumming (Jan Torkild Johannessen) is really tight and intricate, the lyrics are great and the vocal parts with three lead singers Gilbert Marshall, Allan Olsen and Eirik Hanssen are extremely tasteful, bringing a unique texture to the vocals. Just listen to the vocal part on a song like “What if”, and you'll know what I mean.

This album is very well put together, every song fits into the puzzle. It´s fresh and it’s vintage – all at the same time. So if you are into progressive rock music and likes a tight and groovy symphonic sound, but still don’t want the exception of beautiful and emotional melodies - go buy this record, it´s the essential purchase of the year!
Rating: 10/10

"The album is more than an hour, but as when you a see a great movie, time flies"
Rating: 5 guitars (out of 5)

"This is the second album of the Norwegians whose first album ("Motions of Desire") was a stunning debut and which indicated that a new symphonic prog band of an exceptional quality had been born. I think "Circus of Life" confirms this claim. I could also add that MAGIC PIE's live performance (where they played "Circus of Life" in its entirety) was by far the best at the most recent Rites of Spring festival in Phoenixville, PA, making such well-known "veterans" as PENDRAGON and SPOCK'S BEARD rather bleak in comparison.

I marvel at the obstinacy with which many people at this website continue to follow the trend and dedicate so much time to bands like DT while true gems not worse than the classics ofthe 70s are often left unnoticed. MAGIC PIE is truly a phenomenal band: they seem to have absorbed some 20 best prog bands in their sound and yet you will not find their two albums derivative or full of musical clichés. Sometimes it's even hard to decide if they play symphonic, or neo, or metal prog, which is another characteristic of a high-quality band (think of PT). All MAGIC PIE's songs are fresh and powerful, with great melodies. Absolutely no filler material. Another important point, which equally applies to their two albums, is very intelligent, kind, and inspiring lyrics. Aren't you fed up of the dark, constantly whining bands or those that breath "death and destruction"? Want to feel so light and positive as after YES? Then MAGIC PIE is certainly for you. The vocals are great. The guitarist is a genius.

"Circus of Light" contains seven tracks, all soaked in majestic keyboard and guitar passages. No
pointless solos. The instrumental passage which starts at 14:17 on the 4th track ('Trick of the Mind')
makes me jump out of myself with delight, so great it is. I keep rewinding and listening to it over and
over again every time I put on the album. I remember my friend's word at a MAGIC PIE concert when
they were playing this 4th track: "I can't believe what I'm hearing". No doubt, five stars. One of the best new albums I heard in 2007."
Rating: 5 stars

"A wonderful success"
Rating: 4 stars

On the bands debut, their mix of symphonic prog with hard rock muscle (think Deep Purple meets Kansas with a little Yes thrown in) that combines soaring vocal interplay, virtuoso guitar work, and vintage keys, produced stunning results. Here on Circus of Life, you can expect more of the same formula, yet these songs sound nothing like what you heard on the debut. The opening 45+ minute epic
five part title suite "Circus of Life" is a powerhouse of modern prog, with each part having an identity of its own, yet it all makes cohesive sense in telling its story. Kicking off with "Welcome", a charming and lush little melodic number with acoustic guitars, cello, Mellotron flutes, and great vocals, this one sets the stage for the fireworks to follow. Lead vocals in Magic Pie are handled by Allan Olsen, Eirik
Hanseen, and keyboard player Gilbert Marshall, with backing vocals provided by guitarist Kim Stenberg and bassist Lars Petter Holstad. The band then charges in with the raging instrumental "Freakshow", a hard hitting number with searing Hammond, beefy guitar riffs, and wild guitar & keyboard interplay. Again, imagine a marriage of Deep Purple and Kansas here on this one. Stenberg literally rips on the
guitar, as does Marshall when he lays down a tremendous and somewhat fusiony synth solo. The band then moves into symphonic and dreamy prog territory on the alluring "What If...", a memorable piece that has a solid Pink Floyd feel to it, with emotional vocals from Allan Olsen, spacey keys, and Stenberg's biting guitar lines. The lush backing vocals from the whole band on this one are quite stunning, as layering the vocals is something Magic Pie do so well, almost sounding like a prog rock version of Chicago at times.

This then segues into the main part of the suite, the near 22-minute "Trick of the Mind", which is just a mind-blower of powerful progressive rock. Stenberg's melodic and tasty guitar lines kick things off, supported by Mellotron flutes and the intricate drum work from Jan T. Johannessen. This part is made up of four acts, so the band takes you through many changes here, and it's a journey you'll want to revisit over and over. Soaring vocal harmonies, complex instrumental interplay, and some of the most memorable & heart tugging lyrics & vocal lines you will hear on any CD this year:

"The bigger events can have smaller causes,
The minor wins can have major losses,
Stand behind your beliefs,
Keep an open heart and a clear mind, and the rest will take you anywhere".

Just beautiful stuff. Then, just when you have your eyes closed, with perhaps a tear falling and singing proudly along with the band, they launch into a furious musical barrage and change in tempo, even throwing in some Uriah Heep-like "ooh ahs" for good measure. Guitarist Stenberg really shows later in the piece why he is probably one of the hottest young axe players on the prog scene. This guy has it all, chops, tone, and taste. If you like your prog with loads of gorgeous melodies, symphonic and often times complex arrangements, plus plenty of solos spots, you need to hear this tune. The suite closes out in grand fashion with "The Clown", an atmospheric number with Marshall's gentle piano and Hammond laying the groundwork for Stenberg's monstrous guitar solo and layers of emotional vocals from the whole band. Marvelous stuff.

It's almost pointless to have any other songs on a CD after such a rousing and emotional roller coaster that is the "Circus of Life" suite, but Magic Pie did throw two other tunes on this album. "Pointless Masquerade" is a quirky 9-minute number that combines Gentle Giant like complexity with the firepower of Deep Purple, but it also goes through a morphing stage by the time you get to the end of the song, as the band adds in plenty of their own style to this outstanding number. Heavy guitars, flashy keyboards (including a wicked Hammond solo), and tricky rhythms from Johannesen and bassist Holstad. The ending near 10-minute "Watching the Waters" features a great vocal from Eirik Hansen and a nice 70's styled symphonic arrangement. As with all their material, melody is the key, and this one's as memorable as you can get, with some really hot keyboard and guitar work as well.

Epic is probably a good way to describe Circus of Life, but it's much more than that. We all know that 5 star ratings don't come easy here at Sea of Tranquility, but this one is more than deserving. With this release, it's a good bet that Magic Pie are going to set the standard for prog rock albums from here on out. There's absolutely no reason why this band shouldn't be considered one of the elite after folks hear this release, giving them litterally two stunning CD's right out of the gate, not something that is easy for a relatively new band to accomplish. It won't be long before fans will be saying "I can't wait for the next Magic Pie CD", and at that time we'll know that this band is no longer ROSFEST's little secret."
RATING: 5 of 5

"I'd not heard of Magic Pie before 'Circus of Life' turned up for review, but a quick glance at the press release accompanying the CD reveals the band formed five years ago in Norway, and this is their sophomore effort following 2005's debut release 'Motions of Desire'. With influences listed as Yes; Spock's Beard; The Flower Kings; Deep Purple; Uriah Heep; and The Beatles, my curiosity had been stirred, and I listened with high expectations. The main bulk of the album is formed by the 'Circus of Life' suite, an unequivocal metaphorical concept for life as a circus, and comprises 5 pieces of music with part IV, the epic 20+ minute 'Trick of the Mind', broken down into a further four 'acts'. There are also two more lengthy tracks, peripheral to album's title concept, which extend the overall playing time to well over an hour. I sometimes think so called concept albums tread a fine line between pretentiousness and credibility, but when the music is as good as on 'Circus of Life, such a consideration becomes insignificant. The Spock's Beard influence (and I would argue Neal Morse era SB) is prominent in Magic Pie's compositional style in terms of the retro/contemporary dichotomy. Opening track 'Welcome' serves as an effective intro with it's skilfully woven prog-folk essence before letting rip with the technically complex instrumental piece 'Freakshow' full of virtuoso playing; engaging time signatures and scalar diversity. Kim Stenberg's guitar leads impress throughout, and his wah-wah infused solo towards the end of the Floydian 'What If...' is a fine example of poignantly expressive playing, and a nice contrast with the more clinical technicality present in other songs. 'Trick of the Mind' belies its lengthy duration and passes by in no time at all, which is testament to Stenberg's compositional skills, while 'The Clown' has overtones of Pain of Salvation's 'Dea Pecuniae' from their conceptual epic 'Be' with vocals similar to those of Daniel Gildenlöw. It would be apposite to suggest Magic Pie are progressive generically rather than actually progressive, though the Norwegians achieve a perfect balance between old and new on 'Circus of Life' that outshines many of their peers and have made an album that will have huge appeal to the contemporary prog fan en masse.
Highly recommended. "
Rating: 8,5/10

"I was impressed by Magic Pie’s first release "Motions of Desire" but "Circus of Life" just blows me away: brilliant playing, singing, lyrics, production and concept, this band from Norway has
assimilated its influences well. Add "Circus of Life" to your wants list!"

I really can't understand: many critics and fans compare the music of Magic Pie to both Spock's Beard and Flower Kings. So, why do I love Magic Pie and not SB and FK ? My confusion increases because I agree with this comparison ....
Generally speaking they're, in my opinion, also influenced by Yes, Deep Purple and Pink Floyd.
Magic Pie hits the mark again with seven beautiful tracks ( I think they improved the writing quality even more than the debut album), free from extreme, useless and boring complex themes.
They managed to write fluent music but not banal.
I really love the Hammond parts as well as the skilled guitar playing by Kim Stenberg.
No one ... and I looked for them, believe me !!
"The Clown"
"Pointless Masquerade"
I wouldn't ever thought of loving so much a music generally described as a cross between Spocks and Flowers. I deeply loved "Motions Of Desire" (more classic) and now I'm loving "Circus Of Life" (a little more modern): as usual it's not a matter of music style, but it's a matter of contents and balances between the different elements.
Please, don't ignore one of the 5 best releases of this year."Ä
RATING 90/100

"A group that confirms its potential with a second very successful album"

"Magic Pie has done it again; made another beautiful album that is a great asset to the scene of modern Progressive Rock. "Circus of Life" has tons of groovy energy and strong compositions. The instrumental performance of the band is great and the vocals are just delicious. The songs have many references to the history of Prog, but still manage to be unique and modern. The variation of the album and the dynamic and dramatic pace is just amazing. This could easily be the album of the year 2007, and Magic Pie has firmly established themselves as one of the great bands of contemporary Progressive Rock. Highly recommended!"
Rating: 5 of 5

"Norway's Magic Pie created a bit of a stir with their debut album Motions Of Desire back in 2005 gaining quite a few recommendations as prog rock album of that year, despite some criticisms of there being rather too many overt references to their musical influences. However, in the intervening two years, the group has honed, even created, its own style inevitably helped by taking to the stage and performing to enthusiastic international audiences. The line-up has remained unchanged since the debut release with Kim Stenberg providing guitars and the bulk of the song writing (in conjunction with lyricists Tommy Stenberg), Gilbert Marshall on keyboards and vocals, Allan Olsen and Eirik Hanssen on lead vocals, Lars Petter Holstad on bass and Jan Torkild Johannessen on drums.

In days gone by, this album would undoubtedly have just been a single track, split over two sides of vinyl. The benefit of digital technology means that the whole 45+ minutes of the title track of The Circus Of Life can be enjoyed in its entirety in one go. Progressive rock is often derided for bands producing long meandering pieces of self-indulgence that lack coherence and structure. Although it is true that there are far too many bands who think that for a 'epic' tracks are an essential component of any progressive rock album and so over-extend pieces past limits of endurance and beyond the parsity of ideas they contain; never mind the quality, look how long it is! When extended pieces are done well they can be sources of great musical excitement, sublime and emotive passages and vehicles to transport the listener into other dimensions. Fortunately, Magic Pie have grasped this fact and have successfully managed to link five relatively disparate sections to form a coherent and entertaining piece.

From the opening scene-setting of Welcome, through the heavy prog-credentials to the fore instrumental of Freakshow, via the lovely, almost melancholy, harmony singing on What If... to the epic-within-an epic of Trick Of The Mind. Act one Song of Decision makes great use of the three lead vocalists in the group, each bringing a slightly different texture to their vocal parts. Despite the initial guitar onslaught, the bulk of the track is backed by glorious Hammond organ, although Stenberg's guitar becomes more prominent as the track progresses. A synth solo leads into a reprise of the chorus and then it is into Act II Song Of Anger, which really should be called Song of Bitterness with the opening lines "I blame it all on you; you're the reason for my failure". The anger/bitterness is musically demonstrated by the heavy riffing. Although Stenberg is being lauded as something of the latest guitar hero in some circles (some even rating him in the same league as Gilmour and Beck) I have to say I am far more enamoured with Marshall's keyboard contributions. That is not to say Stenberg is not good, if not great, as there are plenty of places where he excels, such as in the passage introducing Act III Song Of Sharing.

Starting with a more sedate vocal passage, a dose of slide guitar leads into a very 1970s hard rock guitar and keyboard passage before things are ramped up further into some furious riffing that will find favour with metal freaks. Holsted's rumbling bass gives the section gravitas with guitar and keyboard solos coming fast and furious. The energy in this piece is quite phenomenal with every musician giving their all. Act IV Face To Face reprises the chorus section of Song Of Decision with a nice harmony section bringing Trick Of The Mind to a tumultuous end. In case you had forgotten, there is still one final part of The Circle Of Life to go, Part V The Clown. Wrapping things up neatly and in grand style, with a choir provided (single-handedly!) by Kor Artig, the scale and ambition of The Circus Of Life is worthy of the subject matter. And am I deluded or is the outro fairground music the same as appears on the intro to Queen's Brighton Rock?!

If that was not enough the album closes with Pointless Masquerade and Watching The Waters. The first of these plays heavily on the vocal arrangements, passing through some a cappella sections (more in the vein of Spock's Beard aping Gentle Giant than the might Giant themselves) to lovely harmony sections. Musically, the piece is a bit of a mish-mash but engaging enough to warrant its nine-minute playing time, with a fine solo by Marshall making the piece all that more special. Speaking of the keyboard player, he is the sole writer of the last track on the album which is probably the least involved on the album. With a certain resonance to classic Kansas the piece provides a fine end to the album.

Overall, Magic Pie have proved themselves a band to watch out for. Hopefully with Progress Records behind them they will thrive and prosper. With Circus Of Life the Norwegians have made a great contender for the album of the year lists."
Conclusion: 9 out of 10

"Magic Pie confirms the excellence of their talents to the multiple facets and delivers a magic album".
RATING: 9 out of 10 stars

"The CD opens with the long title track that contains five parts and has a running time around the 45 minutes. The climates range from dreamy with acoustic guitar, violin and warm vocals (part 1 and 5) to compelling with soaring keyboards (organ and Fender piano) and fragile wah-wah guitar (part 3) to bombastic with propulsive drums and guitar, a long fat sounding Minimoog-like synthesizer solo
and great interplay between guitar and keyboards (part 2 and 4). Especially the closing section in Part 4 (entitled Trick Of The Mind) I am delighted about because of the swirling Hammond organ and biting wah-wah guitar. Then follows the second composition Pointless Masquerade (alternating and dynamic with splendid keyboard work, a fiery guitar and a beautiful interlude with Spanish guitar) and the final track Watching The Waters (lots of wah-wah guitar and a surprising final part with bluesy mouth organ and guitar). On this CD there is an important role for the 3 lead vocalists but Magic Pie their trademark is the blend of heavy progressive/prog metal and symphonic prog and the tension between the mellow and bombastic parts, very entertaining and often exciting!"
Rating: 4 of 5 stars

"Buy it now!"
Rating: 9/10

"Fans of Flower Kings and Karmakanic will most certainly embrace this release, as the music includes all of the highlights we have known and loved for so long. Magic Pie however hails from Oslo, Norway, and is therefore a nice change from the suffocating power of Swedish prog. As an illustration of the band's ambition the album starts with the epic "Circus Of Life," which is composed of five separate pieces. The opening section "Welcome" is an acoustic little beauty which blends mellotron with real cello where the catchy vocal melody reminds me of ACT. You hear this song for the very first time and it
will stay in your memory forever! The second part is the all instrumental "Freakshow" which introduces heavy guitar riffs and plenty of ingenious drum breaks and fills, and an overwhelming seventies sounding organ. Using exactly the same line-up as on the band's debut you witness how homogeneous Magic Pie has become shining in every single department.

With "What If …" the calm sets in, turning towards hazes of drifting Pink Floyd sounds. With two different lead singers the band also injects a nice variety in the vocal department, which in some cases is the stumbling block. Here however the vocals nicely blend together, leaving behind traces of Alan Parsons Project along the way. I don't think any other group before them has ever included an "epic" within an "epic"? The lush 21:50 long "Trick Of The Mind" is the fourth part of the "Circus Of Life"
masterpiece, introducing complex parts with hints of Flower Kings, Spock's Beard, Yes, but also Deep Purple and Uriah Heep, and with fine melodic parts from the golden book of The Beatles and CSNY added to complete the picture. Incredible guitar solos battle against furious Hammond sounds turning this in what surely has to be the band's live favourite.

Great bands don't shun any influence so it is such a great pleasure to hear some Spanish guitar find it's way in the fierce "Pointless Masquerade." Guitar and synth introduce the more poppy intro for "Watching The Waters" which closes this incredible album. Tribal drums steer this song towards an early end where, after a minute of pure silence, the rhythm sets in again this time accompanied by mouth organ and bluesy guitar delivering yet another slice of the versatile Magic Pie. Without a shadow of a doubt Circus Of Life is already my "album of the year"!

In 2006 they performed at ROSfest, whilst this year sees them take the stage [again at RoSFest 2007, but also] at the Subtacto Prog Festival in Oslo [in August] and most of all, at the internationally acclaimed Sweden Rock Festival, next to names such as Aerosmith, Scorpions, REO Speedwagon and Motörhead. For sure the Magic Pie star is rising fast so be sure you catch them as quick as you can!"
RATING: 5 of 5 stars

"Circus of Life" is an album that I will be listening to frequently."
RATING: 9 of 10.

"Circus Of Life is Norwegian prog sensation Magic Pie's second album. Their debut album "Motions Of Desire" released in 2005 was one of my favourite albums that year so I approached the new album with great expectations.
Thankfully Magic Pie has succeeded in making a better album in every respect. It's full of memorable songs and the production is more powerful than last time. Clearly the band has become more self-confident over the last couple of years.The band excels in memorable heavy but melodic progressive rock. Title song "Circus of Life", devided into 5 parts , lasting nearly 45 miniutes is very enjoyable.
Lots of great guitars courtesy of Kim Stenberg and well crafted keyboards by Gilbert Marshall. The band has 3 lead vocalist's Gilbert Marhsall, Allan Olsen and Eirik Hanssen. I don't have a clue who is who of them, but the end result is for the most part brilliant. The rythm section consisting of Lars Petter Holstad and Jan Torkild Johannessen leaves nothing to be desired.
Very highly recommended and a must have."

"The Norwegian prog band serve up another fantastic slice of Magic Pie with this release, Circus of Life
will definitely be in the running for Prog Album of 2007, it really is that good.

There are 7 tracks on the CD, the first 5 tracks make up the masterpiece that is Circus of Life. It is a stunning piece of music over 45:44 mins in length, it features great Keyboards (Gilbert Marshall), Guitars (Kim Stenberg) and a range of Vocals and harmonies that are breathtaking.

Magic Pie certainly have a winning formula for writing great songs and the other two tracks that complete the CD, Pointless Masquerade and Watching the Skies confirm that.

This is Prog music at its very best. So, if you must hear one CD this year make sure that it is this one."

"And the Prog Award of this year goes to.... Magic Pie.""
RATING: 4,5 out of 5


"Magic Pie impressed me, in the fine (and superior, but let's pace the words of eloquence) register of
music "magic" and tremble, of fine and judged composition and in the character of something that
misses only the exuberant experiment, instead it has bit of all the powerful craft. The first album is
valorous beyond doubt, so that this second album comes into a personal attitude of composing a
well-dynamic perspective, of maintaining the genre values without sprouting too much disturbing
difference (that, equally, says a lot about how much you can play on a single line of style and accordance, if you ask me). It has the shining character and the storytelling concept, which clears out the brought-over dirty rain hazard (like alternative keys being too contemplative, or the syrup melancholy being too eloquent...), and makes an album of full gust, tight concept, stringing vivacity and good mood. Circus Of Life, a bit emblematic, but mostly composition-paced, a bit dreamy, but definitely programmatic in a valuable aroma, is around my favorite albums this year, given a sudden feeling of what I've mentioned in the first paragraph: great music touch, explosion petence, progressive gestures at a confident clear, diversity of language inside a constrict of prominent style. Music, magic and a bit of surround.

The alive color of the album's psychical and emotional composition is a wide-opened symphonia, in more retrieving nuances a usual mind can focus on, but in a clear sound-scenic arrangement too. The music is warmly fuzzed, the instrumentality is at a principal dignity that has consequence in powerful touches, delicate art or, rather, the soft beat planante. The rock groove inside is more fleshy than usually, but that's a great dynamic impulse. Majorly, glamorously, or most dramatically (to the shape), the concept is broadening the mind and the heart, upon listening to this album, but the music is doing much more than great riddles or fantastic upholds. It's a expression of no dull touches, it's a fully understood language. The secret is almost viable and sensible, but, by the instrumental full quality, I'd say Circus Of Life is a hidden full message of music creativity, whilst the band is much more comfortable behind the royal sound. Greatly enthusiastic is the evincing total flavor, in a clean order of thought music and in a free-to-impress heavy (accentuated, better said) seasoning.
Allan Olsen impresses a combination of eloquent lyrics and an exaggerated mix of alternative vocal-power, with Hackett's slowness, Steinhardt's fairness in accents and bit of Parsons too. The instrumental remains a gem, meaning high-improvised music, festive spirit, hard slow drifts, maybe some Art Rock full fledge, raising prog attitude. The made-concept is valorous to a made-music, entirely of beautiful shapes and well-believed complexity. The circused movements don't apply to uniqueness, but to grand dandy moves and trifles.

Four stars for the new Magic Pie. Symphonic glaze, bit of Art Rock, modern vibings and timings, short alternative nazel, plus a lot of cream-tasty composition and imagination, to hold on music made entirely of good sounds, perfect dynamics and the small, incipient, symbols. Fairly impressive and impressionable, the ensemble is on high grounds."
Rating: 4 stars

"The second serving of Magic Pie smells and tastes just as good as the first one, even if it's a slightly different flavor. There is absolutely no reason why you shouldn't have a slice or two. Bon apetit!"
Rating: 9/10

"I have waited very anxiously for the successor of the debut album ‘Motions of Desire’ of Magic Pie, one of the best releases of 2005. It is by no means a sinecure to equal the quality of such a top album, or even to surpass it. This Norwegian band has fulfilled my expectations again, although they have taken a slightly different musical turn point/ Naturally, it remains progressive rock, but more
oriented towards hard rock or even some progressive metal. And especially the influence of Uriah Heep becomes very obvious, as for the ‘overall sound’ but also for the special and very characterizing sound of the guitar. Their music holds the middle between progressive rock and hard rock of the seventies and the current scene of neo progressive rock. And apparently it also appeals to the public, because
they are present this year on RosFest (USA) and Sweden Rock Festival.

The ballad ‘Welcome’ begins in a Mostly Autumn style, but then tends towards the more quieter (emo)rock of the seventies, bands like Uriah Heep and Kansas had those kind of songs on their repertoire. In ‘Freakshow’ it becomes a bit heavier and more complex, progressive rock with vintage Hammond, loads of guitar and a heavy rhythm section, certainly some influences of The Flower Kings are noticeable, although the guitar riffs sound a bit harder than their fellow-countrymen. And ‘What if’ breaths out the atmosphere of the seventies as well, again a ballad with references to Alan Parsons, The Eagles but also to a lot of hard rock bands of that era, beautiful vocals with an excellent ‘distorted’ guitar solo on top. What a contrast with the epic ‘Trick of the mind’, starting in true progressive metal
style, but like the longest track on their previous album it is full of tempo changes, mood changes and styles, ‘Flower Kings meet Dream Theater’. And as already mentioned they have listened very well to Uriah Heep, for the insiders, they even use the 'aahh' trick of ‘Bird of Prey’. And again there is a short jazzy fragment on guitar, you get the impression to have landed in the middle of a song of Deep Purple. The beautiful guitar solos have the quality mark of Mick Box, the sound colour is surprisingly comparable. In the second part of the song there is a captivating piece of guitar, only supported by drums, referring to bands like Trapeze and Bad Company. It may seem like Magic Pie is a cover band (they used to be), but they compose their own tracks based on the success formulas of super groups of the past, who can blame them?

I don't know if it's on purpose, but after each heavy track there is a moment of rest, but the splendid guitar solo of The Clown grabs you immediately, top quality melodic hard rock. ‘Pointless Masquerade’ is a nice piece of progressive rock, like Spock’s Beard tend to bring it nowadays, ‘heavy’ but with a lot of feeling for melody, and also a ‘Gentle Giant’ feeling, like Beard also integrates on all of their albums.
Spanish and Oriental influences give this song some extra.

The band also uses a lot of sound samples, like for example at the beginning of ‘Watching the Waters’, a song completely in the vein of the Swedish school, especially of the label Progress Records with bands like Grand Stand, Cross and Galleon. Catchy melodies with a lot of keyboards and guitars, a bit strange is the silence of about a minutes between some drums and harmonica, after which it gets
even a bluesy Fleetwood Mac feeling.

Overall Magic Pie brings the perfect mix between progressive rock, hard rock and melodic metal, a better description would be progressive classic rock’, especially because of the links with the past. I am an unconditional fan of this kind of music, not always easy for the listener, but the integration of several music genres makes it very interesting. Hopefully we can see them once live in our neighbourhood!"
RATING: 9/10

"A tight and well produced album that will give you pleasure for years."
RATING: 8,5/10

"Norwegian progband Magic Pie, released a brilliant debut album in 2005 entitled: ”Motions of desire” and its a hard act to follow! But after listening to their brand new album “Circus of Life” quite a few times, i must say that they pulled it of. That same blend of quiet acoustic ballads and some tight, wellplayed powerful prog/artrock, with superb twist´s, turn´s, breaks and time signatures. For a perfect intro to their ballads (and indeed the album) just listen to: “Welcome” a wonderful start to a great album!! Track # 2: “Freakshow” delivers just those mentioned breaks and twist´s, as a matter of fact track 1-5 are sub-sequences to the titlesong :”Circus of Life” aprox. 45 minutes of sheer joy and finely crafted prog/artmusic for anyone into said genre´s, a Tour de Force if you will?! But hey, thats not all there are 2 tracks more to enjoy! There are hints of Flower Kings and other good inspiration sources, but overall these scandinavian brothers really shines on their instruments and lead vocalist´s Olsen, Hanssen & Marshall are just brilliant. Stenberg´s guitars are all over the place, with superb lead solo´s and powerchords ( listen to the oriental influenced guitars on “ “Freakshow”) Gilbert Marshall also shines on his ever present majestic keyboard plays! All that supported by solid drums and bass, courtesy of Johannessen / Holstad.

So another great progalbum from scandinavia, they just keep 'em coming, dont they?! Well what can i say, im proud that my fellow scandinavians have that talent mass in the prog world and thanks again to Progress Records (and Hansi) for finding, signing and releasing those fabulous bands! Finally, Magic Pie really are something to enjoy!!"

"A modern classic"

"Magic Pie are one of those bands that fall into the modern/retro progressive camp along with the
likes of The Flower Kings, Spock's Beard, The Tangent, Transatlantic, Karmakanic, La Maschera
Di Cera, Kaipa, and the like, with their use of three lead singers, symphonic old school keyboards,
multi-textured mood altering atmospheres, complex and melodic interchanges, make them a band
with a unique chemistry, and certainly a band that is in great company musician-wise, or
compositionally with any of the aforementioned bands.

One thing that sets The Pie apart for my tastes, is the quality of the songwriting, and again, Kim Stenberg's guitar playing, which is in a league beyond what you hear from the playing on these other bands' cds. Yes it's a matter of taste and all of that, but Stenberg has an aggressive side that takes the band out of their straight away progressive rock sound, and adds some fusion and virtuoso delights to the music. It's progressive music all the way, with no lulls or filler, and is a variety of prog that can easily invite non-progressive rock fans based on the energy, musicianship and melodic hooks.

The 21 minute epic - Trick of the Mind, is the kind of song that might get the 'classic' tag because they really put everything into it, it's is reflective of everything progressive music stands for in the more conventional sense, each singer is utilized, and there are some fantastic instrumental sections, and it's the kind of song that seems much shorter than it really is. Other songs are quite lengthy as well, two in the 9 minute range, on over 8, and two shorties at over 6 minutes. Needless to say, they are not writing and radio hits on this cd. And even though the songs are long, they never drag on, mainly because this band has so much to say as musicians, in the tradition of YES, ELP, or Tull and Genesis, we came to love those bands for their ability to write songs that featured their collective musical skills as well as the lyrical aspects. Magic Pie has this same formula, only with their own signature, as each of those bands did."


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