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Magica - "Dark Diary" (CD)

Magica - "Dark Diary" CD cover image

"Dark Diary" track listing:

1. Anywhere But Home (4:26)
2. Tonight (3"35)
3. Never Like You (4:02)
4. Wait For Me (4:21)
5. Need (4:03)
6. Release My Demons (4:11)
7. On The Side Of Evil (4:24)
8. My Kin My Enemy (4:08)
9. Used To Be My Angel (3:37)
10. we Are Horde (4:23)
11. Dead Diary (1:55)

Bonus Track:
12. Victory (4:33)

Reviewed by on January 5, 2011

"The biggest asset Magica has going for them on 'Dark Diary' is the introduction of a heavier sound."

Magica is one of those bands that tends to get lost in the mix of female-fronted symphonic acts. Though their albums are usually pretty solid, it's tough for a group from Romania to compete against powerhouses like Epica, and Magica's history of weak vocals and confused bouncing around between mainstream, power metal, and symphonic tracks have made their battle an uphill climb. "Dark Diary" finds them making an admirable attempt at working their way to the top of the heap.

One of the faults with Magica has been that their compositions are good, but not anything that really stands out. However, the track "Nothing Like You" is a standout song, with heavier riffs and some nice growls that put them right alongside Epica. Less mellow and more powerful progressive, this song's only flaw is that Ana would be better off sticking to lower notes. This is something that always plagues her though, as the higher she goes on the scale the more nasally she sounds, and the stronger her accent. Still, she has made great strides in masking her native tongue.

There's still an attempt at mainstream though, particularly evident in the song "Need." The intro sounds like an 80's hard rock tune, but then enter the synths to bring it back to the symphonic realm. It's one of the weaker tracks, but I still like the sing-along potential of this one, which is something usually lacking in Magica tunes.

Probably the best track is "We Are Horde," and call me a geek, but I'm amazed no one's made a World of Warcraft fan video to this tune yet. The nearly speed metal tempo, death growls, and lower range, powerful lead vocals make this a killer track that's ideal for gaming. And though I doubt the song really is about Alliance vs. Horde, the battle references still seems apropos.

The biggest asset Magica has going for them on "Dark Diary" is the introduction of a heavier sound. Having said that though, there's still one ballad that is mostly superb – "Dead Diary." It may be less than two minutes long, but the classic piano, mellow tempo and heart-wrenching tune lingers after the last note. The only pitfall for this one is Ana's accent, which seems really strong in some spots.

Magica's latest offering isn't going to make any Top Ten lists, but "Dark Diary" shows the band growing and finding their niche in an admittedly bloated genre, which might help to make these musicians from an often ignored region a little less ignored.

Highs: Heavier riffs, faster tempos, and more growls make for stronger compositions.

Lows: Ana's vocals are still plagued by a too rich accent and a tendency to sound nasally on higher notes.

Bottom line: Magica is rising in the ranks of female-fronted symphonic metal with this one, and though they still have some kinks to work out, "Dark Diary" is an impressive piece of work.

Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls
3.5 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)