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Mago de Oz - Belfast CD (album) cover

BELFAST

Mago de Oz

 

Progressive Metal

2.91 | 17 ratings

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kenethlevine
Special Collaborator
Prog-Folk Team
3 stars I was unaware at the time of acquisition that this is chiefly an album of covers, both of previously released MAGO DE OZ tunes and songs from the 1930s to the present by a wide variety of other artists, mostly translated into the group's native Spanish. Because I heard that early MAGO tended to the metallic, and "Gaia" had been such a pleasant discovery, I figured that its followup would be a good place to continue exploring this Spanish SPINAL TAP. While I enjoy a lot of this, it doesn't bring much new to my appreciation of the group's Celtic meets metal alchemy.

At least two of the parasitic covers are from the "Gaia" album, where greater orchestrations and sometimes a more metallic edge are added, but in the end they are the same songs, recognizable by their distinctive melodies and clever arrangement artistry. The opening jig is dispensable and without character, but the followup title cut actually proffers something quite different, a chugging rocker with raspy vocals, a football styled chorus, and a sweet gypsy break. The fact that it is a rare English song hardly matters. Were we expecting Gaelic perhaps? Another highlight is the WHITESNAKE cover "Dame tu Amor". Not being familiar with that group or the original "Guilty of Love", I can say MAGO has made it their own, a spirited Celtic rocker with some fine guitar licks and vocals from Andrea.

Another highlight is a version of disappeared 1970s Spanish band ASFALTO's "Mas Que Una Intención", a heartfelt power ballad that captures the musical zeitgeist of that period. The melody will ring in your ears for hours, along with the guitar fills and urgent vocals. I had heard of the original band but might want to check them out now. There is a similarity to MEDINA AZAHARA but with a more liberally progressive structure and dramatic flair, particularly in the tempo shifts and yearning fiddle. Similar kudos for the URIAH HEEP cover "Dama Negra". Perhaps not knowing the original helps but I really think the group has adopted and adapted well. The album closes with a very worthwhile cover of "Somewhere over the Rainbow" in English. The group puts its stamp on this Wizard of Oz standard, nowhere more than in the use of mandolin and the manner in which they artificially elongate the last syllable of each line in the chorus.

The only outright disaster is an ELVIS PRESLEY cover that is 5 parts lullaby for the unwilling and 1 part tacky rock and roll. While not necessarily the place to meet MAGO DE OZ, "Belfast" is worth a visit if you think musical genre pigeonholing is grounds for religious conflict.

kenethlevine | 3/5 |

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