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Love, Madness, and the binding silver moon. - 89%

hells_unicorn, April 29th, 2012

For all of the trappings normally associated from the land that gave us such legends as Dracula and the werewolf, Magica has been somewhat reserved in their tendency to embrace these clichés, at least when compared to some bands not from that area who take them on such as Powerwolf and Timeless Miracle. This changed with the release of “Wolves And Witches”, a name that has all of the subtlety of the plotlines featured in the ever popular “Underworld” series and the ill-fated attempt at playing up classical horror that was “Van Helsing”. But thankfully these seasoned Romanian power metal artists are less inclined to modernistic pitfalls and have managed to render a highly enticing romantic tale of an album that brings a bit of charm back to female fronted power metal.

Stylistically this is a bit of a departure from the subdued “Hereafter” and plays up the faster and more epic character of the band’s sound, coming off as less of a “Century Child” follower and something slightly closer to the majestic character of “Wishmaster”. Comparisons to Nightwish are woefully unavoidable given the heavily similar sound and stylistic character of singer Ana Mladinovici, and throughout most of this release here voice seems even more obvious than previously. But this band also does well to remain distinct by playing up the guitars and restraining the keyboard and symphonic trappings, resulting in something that is a slight bit closer to the straight line power metal character of Firewind, though guitarist Bogdan Costea is less of a shred fanatic and much more focused on memorable themes and pounding riff work.

While the format here is a bit plainer and less conceptually bound than the typical romanticism of Nightwish, there is a certain mystique that dominates this album that is pretty hard to miss. Sometimes there will be a brief atmospheric interlude or intro such as the creepy séance sounds at the beginning of “They Stole The Sun” or the equally otherworldly sounds mixed into the breakdown just before the solo on “Until The Light Is Gone”, but even the predictable sections that come and go in each song is possessed of a certain nuance and charm that gradually works its way into the forefront after repeated listens. Perhaps the two plainest offerings to be heard on here in “Just For 2 Coins” and “Hurry Up Ravens” offer the most triumphant elements to the mix, reminding heavily of the flash and splendor of the late 90s revival of the style, but also incorporate that slightly progressive mixture of rhythmic drumming and guitar grooves that was brought in by Arwen and Landguard soon after.

Bands like Magica are something of a godsend for those who were happier in the days when Tarja was fronting Nightwish and Within Temptation was sort of following after the former’s niche on “Mother Earth” as they have never veered too far from that romantic and poetic character that defined that era. Furthermore, a lot of the less metallic elements that came along with the majesty of those albums are also less present here, and what instead manifests is a heavier, harder edged version of them that has a better memory of where it came from. It’s fitting that this band named itself after one of Dio’s masterpieces, as they display a similar loyalty and tenacity towards an established, albeit newer tradition that they have helped to bring about.