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Interview by Robin Stryker
Founded in 2002 by guitarist Bodan Costea, Romanian melodic power metal band Magica has an impressive five full-length albums under their belts. Femme Metal chatted with vocalist Ana Mladinovici to learn more about the band’s latest release, “Dark Diary” (AFM Records 2010).
Hello, Ana! Would you start off by telling us about Magica’s new album, “Dark Diary”?
Hello there! In my opinion, “Dark Diary” is our best material so far and also my favourite one. The songs are very powerful, and the new sound helps the songs a lot and makes this material way better than the others albums.
This is the band’s third release with AFM Records, a major German label. Is the partnership between Magica and AFM working out well for you so far?
The partnership with AFM it’s a good one. They have a very good distribution and I hope they are happy with Magica’s sellings since now. We still hope for a big European tour next year…who knows ?
Magica’s earlier albums have a strong fantasy theme running throughout them – for example, “Scroll of the Stone” (2002) which told the story of Princess Alma and “Wolves & Witches” (2008) which was inspired by Romanian folklore. Does the new album have an over-arching theme?
The lyrics for this album walk hand-in-hand with the actual “Dark Diary” written by Ioana Dorojan, a diary of a teenage girl lost in the struggle with the ruthless society and dogmatic ways of thinking. It is kind of a concept album and we are very proud of it.
I was surprised (and excited) to see that the Amazon mp3 version of “Dark Diary” includes an 11-minute audiobook called “The Dark Diary”. Can you tell us more about the audio-book and how Magica came up with the idea of adding a spoken-language track?
We were talking with Nils Wasko of AFM Records and we were searching for ways to fit the whole text of the diary into the booklet. At some point, Nils came up with the idea: what if we record an extra bonus track with someone reading the actual diary? It would be something like an audiobook. We thought the idea is awesome and so we asked Hilda Heidel, our drummer’s sister, to be the storyteller.
I absolutely adore “Release My Demons” from start to finish. Which song really gets your blood pumping when you sing it?
It is so hard to tell…. maybe “Anywhere but Home” because it was written in a very hard period of my life and I’m very into it.
The limited edition digi-pack includes a cover of Running Wild’s “Victory”. Why did Magica pick this song for the bonus track?
It was also a choice of the label. The song was recorded a few months in advance because it was included on a Running Wild tribute album. So AFM considered that it would be cool to add this as a bonus track.
Magica has made some evocative music videos. If you had an unlimited budget, what track from “Dark Diary” would you pick, and what would your perfect video look like?
Unlimited budget? Wow! That would be great! “Anywhere but Home” that’s the track for sure. It would be shot in as many locations as possible — for example, in front of the great Sphinx, on board of a shuttle launched for the Moon, ridding The Great Wall of China, or diving in the abyss in search of Atlantis maybe. Hehehe, I could come up with a ton of ideas. The problem remains that big IF you put in front of your question.
It seems like Magica’s sound evolved from symphonic metal to power metal on the “Wolves & Witches” album, with guitars taking a more prominent place. What are the biggest differences between that album and “Dark Diary”? What genre or genres is Magica’s new album closest to no w?
Bogdan (guitars) likes to call it melodic power metal. On “Dark Diary” we pushed the keyboards even more in the background just to make some more room for metal. The guys in the band are not so big fans of groups that center all the melody on a keyboard arrangement while the guitars are simply doing a rhythm job. There is a probability that Magica will become more and more aggressive as time passes by.
With five full-length albums in less than eight years, the band has been impressively prolific, when many bands struggle to release a new album every two to three years. How does Magica manage to keep up that pace while still offering something new with each album?
An answer could be that other bands are busy with touring while Magica, being so far from the heart of the metal stage (East Europe), does not have all opportunities that a German band has for example. Another answer could be that both me and Bogdan work in musical related environments.
What was the song-writing process like for “Dark Diary”? Was it a team effort, or is Bogdan Costea (guitar) still the mastermind behind the music?
Bogdan did basically all the work.
You and Bogdan have been musical partners for more than a decade – first as members of Interitus Dei and then, beginning in 2002, as original members of Magica. Why has your collaboration stood the test of time?
We are both very dedicated to metal, we are serious persons who will always respect their promises and we like more or less the same genre of metal.
Would you tell us a little bit more about the newer members of Magica?
Sorin, the bass player, is a funny guy that we knew from a long time back as a friend and a member of another band from our city. He works as a safety officer on a deep sea oil drilling platform. Hertz, our drummer, is a very active dude with very much work power, a guy that you can count on when it matters. Mostly he works as a techie for live shows. Finally the newest addition, Bogdan-Ionut, filled the spot of rhythm guitar. He is a lawyer who promises that the things will get even more heavy metal than before.
With your effortless shifts between mid-range and soprano vocals, it certainly sounds as though you have had classical training. What is your musical background?
Indeed I have graduated from a musical University but lately I do not like to mention that anymore as it has become more and more a cliche thing. Almost all female metal singers brag about being classically trained.
“Dark Diary” has quite a polished sound with the vocals and each instrument standing out distinctly. What role did Ronny Milianowicz (mixing) and Jens Bogren (mastering) have in shaping the album’s ultimate sound? Why did Magica bring these guys on board for mixing and mastering duties?
Ronny Milianowicz did all the work (mixing and mastering) under the guidance of Jens. Initially, Mr. Bogren was supposed to do the mastering but it turned out that he was in the impossibility to work on our material in the period of time set by our label because he was busy with many other projects booked in advance. We chose Ronny because he had a big experience as a sound engineer, having worked with big names as Sinergy, Hammerfall, Paradise Lost, Amon Amarth and many more. We also liked him as a person, talking to him on the internet.
Is the album everything you hoped it would be?
Does Magica have a special dream, whether it is playing alongside one of your musical heroes or performing at a particular venue?
Every band dreams about playing alongside their idols. For me, it would be great to sing in a duet with Roy Khan of Kamelot but I’m pretty sure that the other members will have very different ideas and choices.
What are the band’s plans for the remainder of 2010? Might we be able to see Magica live soon?
For the moment the band is taking a couple of months break for me to recover after a surgical intervention on my thyroid.
Thank you so much for talking with us, Ana! Do you have any parting words for your fans at Femme Metal?
Label : AFM Records
Review by Tony Cannella
From Romania, Magica have previously released 4-albums with their last one being the excellent “Wolves & Witches” effort in 2008. Now the band are back with their fifth CD titled, “Dark Diary” a CD that sees Magica continuing on in their symphonic Power Metal direction with all the confidence of a veteran outfit - which they now are. Magica waste little time in getting to it, as the opening track, “Anywhere but Home” begins with a powerful guitar riff and a high energy that announces to the listener that Magica are back. “Dark Diary” is true Magica as the following songs, “Tonight”, “Never Like You” and “Wait for Me” can attest to. Their level of musicianship and songwriting continues to grow from album-to-album and, “Dark Diary” continues the trend. Probably my two favorite tracks are, “Release My Demons”, and the bordering-on-thrash heavy-ness of “We Are Horde”. These two songs really help to shape, “Dark Diary” into one of the best Magica releases to date. I have always admired Magica’s ability to inject healthy doses of melody into their songs, while not forgoing their classic riff-heavy metal style. The final track, “Dear Diary” is only about two minutes long, but it offers the listener something a little different to close out the CD. This song is just Ana singing accompanied by some serene sounding piano, and it creates the perfect outro for, “Dark Diary”. Magica doesn’t stray too far from their chosen style of music, but each new release always has a fresh sound and quality to them, and that continues with, “Dark Diary”. Fans of Magica should be well please with the finished result of, “Dark Diary”, and hopefully they will pick up some new fans along the way.
Rating - 90/100