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Magion - A Different Shade of Darkness
Written by Doctor T.   
Friday, 01 November 2013

Magion - CD Review
A Different Shade of Darkness
Magion

CD Info
2013
10 tracks
English lyrics
10/10

In the interest of full disclosure, I rather like Magion, their first release was my release of the year several years ago and this one is better. It’s gonna be hard coming up with realistic deficiencies, that being the case, ain’a. Of course, Sonic Cathedral being involved in the distribution of that release does present a bit of a conflict of interest so, if that concerns you just quit reading this and go buy a copy for yourself. I don’t think you’ll be too upset unless you were expecting rap or One Direction.

It’s a little difficult to specifically point to where the sound has made significant improvement. Some have commented that the vocals of lead vocalist Myrthe van Beest have grown more mature, more resonant, more. . . well, better. I wouldn’t argue that, maybe pregnancy has that effect, I don’t know. And, I don’t know if she was pregnant when she recorded them, I just hope that pregnancy has come to term before the band’s appearance at MFVF this Fall, I’d like to hear the real deal there. I’m also of the opinion that the kingly keyboard work of Joop de Rooij seems to have advanced that part of the music on this release and is of more intensity and flavor. Course, these are just my impressions, along with the few others who have heard the release, and that’s a small fraternity at this point. I haven’t seen any printed reviews and there’s limited content on YouTube, but, I may have a few things up myself once the CD is formally released, stand by on that one.

There is some carryover from the previous release, this is Dutch Gothic after all. The lyrics aren’t as dark as some but they point in the right direction. I just received the full lyrics so will point to some of them here, they can provide some overview to what you can expect with this release. Fortunately for me, and for you, I’ve been able to interact with Myrthe a bit on FB, when you’re 38 weeks pregnant, you’re probably not out joy ridin’ on yer Harley, so I can provide some direct commentary regarding some specifics related to the CD. And the first one had to do with “Soon to be Mom’s” vocals on this release. Myrthe commented, “The vocals for this album were recorded at Chris' home studio entirely. I think that gave me the confidence and the time to experiment more and to evolve my sound. I've been using less of my operatic voice and more of my chest (rock) voice on this album. It just felt more in tune with the feeling of this album. And I hope my voice has grown since the recordings of Close to Eternity.” I’d hasten to add that there are still some high range soprano parts, sometimes thrown in for emphasis. This happens on the opening number, Beloved Enemies where the vocals seem to move from one style to another as the tempo of the track alters. This track also reflects the central theme of the release in terms of lyrics. Myrthe’s description there, “I cannot say this is a concept album or anything but the lyrics do cover a certain period in my life that wasn't all that pretty. I've gone through a difficult time and you can find some of those stories in the lyrics. The general theme is loss, depression, betrayal and changes you can't influence, but it is also about new hope. Overall I can say it is even more personal than CTE.” You get that direction immediately with the lyrics here:

 

Never too late

Oh how you love to hate me now, you'll reap just what you sow

Make with me a new memory / Where we'll be forever beloved enemies
Go and turn your back on me / I know I'll surrender and dwell in sweet misery

 

Masquerade provides a little different vocal dimension. This one begins with a harsh male vocal and a little less varied female vocal line. But, there’s a lot going on with most of these tracks, they’re relatively complex in terms of arrangement with individual instrumental components taking turns to drive the music from one moment to the next. And, on this one, there’s an interesting twist lyrically, there’s what can only be seen as a dialog between the male vocal and the female, and it ain’t a love song. We begin with the harsh male vocal:

 

Bow your heads, wave your white flags / No one can escape the final judgement day
Even the bravest must show their true face / What will be left of you, when your act falls through?

 

To which the female lead responds:

 

At last I've given up the fight / I've laid my arms beside me
Look closely, tell me what you see / Be kind and please have mercy

 

Musical structure is certainly one of the high points of most Magion material. You get the feeling they put as much time into the development process, lyrics included, as they do in the production effort. I have some videos to point to, but they don’t feature Myrthe, that Mama thing, docha know. But these were recorded at an outdoor and the singer, Nienke Verboom from the band Mindshare seems to be able to approximate the needed vocals nicely. This one, Untrue captures some of that structure and the interaction of the elements. And, yea, ol’ Joop seems to be having a pretty good time back there on the keys. He gets things moving with this one too.

Out of Time may be my favorite track on the release. This is certainly the darkest, right out of a Wisconsin funeral in February, with Joop using the keys to paint a picture of ultimate pain and remorse. I asked Myrthe about this one, her response, “Out of time is one of the few songs that is not about me though. It is about someone who used to be very close to Chris. When I heard her story I just had to write these lyrics, cause it fit the song so well. It's about a woman who lost contact with her father for a long time due to a nasty divorce. Her mother kept her from contacting her father for a long time by spreading lies and keeping letters from her. When she finally found out about this, it was already too late to get to know her dad because he was diagnosed with a terminal illness. So in just a few months time she gained a father and then lost him. This story just really spoke to me and so I wrote 'Out of time' for her.” This one chills to the bone, about as beautiful a Gothic number as I’ve ever heard.

The personal is never far away with this release, and it can get pretty intense. Neverending Winter is maybe the biggest sound on the release, crushing symphonics, throbbing guitars and a range of vocal styles. The lyrics paint a picture of regret. .

 

He's watching, he's looking with keen eyes / Not knowing, not seeing her demise
She's a rose, beaten by the storms / Pale leaves and everlasting thorns

She's waiting for a new day / A new life to begin
Been sleeping through this neverending winter / Frozen still

 

. . and maybe a picture of hope for the picture with the thoughts of “a new day / A new life to begin. Myrthe also addressed this one, “Neverending winter is a song that is about my own depression. He (refers to someone who loved me and wanted to 'save' me from my own thoughts) and she refers to me. It is about me just wanting to go to sleep and wait for the storm to pass by. I didn't want to fight anymore but just hide out and wait. I was a time of apathy and self destructive behavior. I wouldn't let anyone close and I would just bury myself in my own dark thoughts, behind my own ice cold walls where nobody could find me.

But don't worry, I'm in a much better place right now, and part of that I have to thank this album for. I really got to throw everything in there and it has helped me to understand myself more and to get all the bad juju out of my system;)”

As any blues musician can tell you, the pain can lead to a beautiful sound when aimed in the right direction, and maybe that’s the case here. This is a biggie, one of the large releases of the year IMO and in the opinion of others whose opinion I respect. I believe Magion is scheduled for an early Saturday performance at MFVF, I’ll be there, hope Myrthe will be too, a new mother with a GREAT new release. Reason enough to celebrate.

Store Note:

You can purchase the release direct from the band or directly from our Sonic Cathedral Store 

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