Magic Is Might, Part Three

[Thank you for visiting The Wrock Snob and reading this article! I’d love for you to jump right into the reviewy goodness, but first there is some unfortunate business to take care of. It is not in my nature to tell you specifically what or what not to buy and who to support – I tell you what I thought about an album, and if my tastes seem to align with yours, you might want to heed my suggestions. However, I must take this time to personally exhort that you do not monetarily support the bands The Remus Lupins or Ministry of Magic. The full reasons are unsettling and possibly triggering, so please proceed with caution, but if you want the full details click here. Simply put, it has been revealed that certain member/s of both bands did destructive, upsetting, and highly problematic things. While I can see the value of reviewing art no matter what the artist did on a grand society-level scale, I cannot morally allow myself to condone the financial support of these monsters, nonetheless exhorting people to do so. Now it is entirely possible this copypasta’d retroactive warning was placed on a negative review, making this sidebar somewhat moot, but I still feel it necessary to make these matters clear. Again, for full details and rumination click here, otherwise, please enjoy the article.]

Here’s the part where I try to review Magic Is Might the same way actual reviewers do – you know, not spending 500 words on each song in excruciating detail and going off on massive tangents, sometimes multiple times in the same sentence.  Don’t worry, lovers of blather, a review of MiM in my regular style will be coming up next, but for now, witness my vain attempts to achieve succinctness!

So, this has been my most-requested review by far, and it’s not hard to see why.  My very first review was of Ministry of Magic’s previous album, Onward and Upward, which I thought was a giant pile of horseshit that had one diamond and a couple of semi-precious stones (like hematite or something) buried deep inside it.  It’s entirely possible that I would not have made the splash I did, or be where am I now if I had reviewed something less WRPCA-sweepingly popular.  Moreover, this album has already attained Jesus-levels of popularity (for the wrock community, at least) – I mean, how many iTunes charts did this album get onto or even top?

I’ve got to say, despite my rather dim view of O&U, I was still rather excited for this album, hoping that their third outing was just a miserable fluke.  I bought the album the day it came out, and listened to it extensively, and I am now happy to report that Magic Is Might definitely not as bad as Onward and Upward.

It’s worse. So very, very worse.  You see, at least Onward and Upward had one scrotum-clenchingly awesome song, and a dramatic reading of various lines in the canon set to nice music, and a couple songs with nice chori.  And at least the worst and stupidest songs still had at least one or two things going for them – “Evanesco Dobby”, while blitheringly stupid, had a catchy-ass chorus, and the instrumentation was pretty damn fun, or “Only Power Remains”, which while on the whole was rather mediocre, the bit where Voldemark says “Stand aside you silly girl” gives me chills everytime, and bits of the chorus are pretty cool.  But there is not a single song on Magic Is Might that is even close to “Lightning Struck Tower”, or heck, even “Battle of Hogwarts”.  Hell, they aren’t even as good as tripe like “Gryffindor Rally Cry” or “Catalyst for Love”.

It’s a bad sign when the two closest things to a good song on your wizard rock album is a song that has a really cool chorus, but boring-ass verses (as well as boring ass-verses), and a song that references both Star Trek and Big Bang Theory, and rhymes the word “Snape” with “Snape”.  But even those two songs (“The Curse” and “House Song”, respectively) are not songs I’d ever consider putting on my iPod, at least until I upgrade from 8 gigs, and maybe not even then.  What makes this album even worse is that at this point, it’s hard to write it off as a fluke.  See, I hated Onward & Upward with a fiery passion, but it was still forgivable, due to the precedent set by MoM’s previous two albums, which ranged from solid to close to perfect.  I hoped that it was just a very large mistake, one that would be corrected and then some by the following album.

Now, to be fair, there are a couple good things about Magic Is Might – the Ministry boys have learned from some of the mistakes of the previous album, for example, the relentless overproduction, of both the music and their voices.  With the exception of a just a couple songs in which the autotune abuse is intentional (doesn’t necessarily make it okay… but that’s a discussion for the next article), all the vocal performances are very clean, and very strong.  On that note, this is easily the best Ministry of Magic album, purely in the sense of vocal performances – everyone is on the very top of their game, and there’s never really a point, unlike in previous albums, where one of the voices was rubbing me the wrong way, or a performance didn’t fit with the song, or notes were obviously missed.

But here’s the killing blow, children: even the few good things I can say about Magic Is Might do naught but further prove what a terrible album it is.  Why?  Because even despite containing the best and best rendered vocal performances of their wiz-rock careers (with the possible exception of Acoustiatus), Magic Is Might is still the worst album they have ever made, and a giant steaming pile of fecal matter, but in handy audio format!  See, even great vocal performances can’t even begin to save this album, but it just makes me hate it even more, because of the terribly squandered potential.

Just to head off people calling my hypocritical, let me explain what I mean by “great vocal performances” – I mean that their voices sound nice, no one was dicking with the levels and filters, so they are still allowed to sound nice, and everyone’s singing the right notes at the right times, and each performance is very clear and strong.  The problem is, even though they are singing everything correctly, what they’re singing is shit.  There’s no real pride to be had in correctly murdering a box of orphaned paraplegic one-eyed puppies – it just means that you’re doing an even better job of killing doggies than most people. Ummmm… congratulations? (Also, one “Ron Mexico” would like to have a word with you)

You see, the one word I would use to describe this album, besides “disappointing”, “shitty”, “unlistenable”, “at-times-unintentionally-hilarious”, “contains-the-worst-lyrics-for-a-wizard-rock-album,-ever”, and “career-ending-if-it-wasn’t-for-the-frakking-fan-girls”, would be “boring”.  It’s just damned boring.  And worst of all, not even all, or even most of the songs are all boring!  True, there a few songs like “Lily” and “Time Turner” that have absolutely no redeeming factors (and no, there are no other factors, because YOU DON’T HAVE ANY!), but the majority of the songs have at least one little nugget of awesome buried in there – like the first eleven seconds of “Don’t Leave”, or the bit in the creatively titled “Harry Potter Is Dead” where Voldemark’s part rips off Green Day’s “21 Guns” (and you know a song is bad when the best part of it rips off 21st Century Breakdown).  And there are even a couple songs that have fun chori, like “The Curse”, and… well, okay, like “The Curse”, and that’s about it.  But then there are songs like “This Town” which are just so inoffensively bland that I almost hate them more than absolutely idiotic songs like “My Baby” that could turn any Ravenclaw into a gibbering, drooling Hufflepuff in just a couple listens.

But again, we come back to the problem of squandered potential.  It’s not like this album has no redeeming qualities. Almost no redeeming qualities, yes, but not quite.  There are fun little bits sequestered away deep inside many of the songs, making each of them like a little microcosm of Onward & Upward, in a sense, except instead of the awesome bit being three minutes and thirty-three seconds, it’s usually about twelve seconds, and you can’t just skip all the crap and go straight to it, you have to slog through a song that will range from blisteringly boring to offensively stupid.

If Onward & Upward was like a pile of shit with a diamond buried somewhere deep inside it, then Magic Is Might is like a pile of shit with a handful of diamond shards scattered through it that are almost too small to see with the naked eye and you’ll probably end up cutting your hand on them anyway if you go searching for them.  And it’s those lost shards of diamond, that squandered potential that truly makes this a miserable, loathsome album.  You see, it makes it so that this album, one that will inevitably sweep the WRPCAs (yet again) is worse even than stuff like Bella’s Love’s The Standard Book of Awesome, or Slytherin Soundtrack’s Even If it Splinches Me, because whereas the bits of awesome peeking through there are little nuggets of potential to be celebrated and nurtured, for a band of trained musicians like Ministry of Magic, who should have, and have done better, it’s just heart-breakingly disappointing.

This disappointment is compounded by the fact that we’ve already experience this before, so we can’t just write it off as a fluke.  Moreover, some of my biggest problems with Onward & Upward (besides my general issue with it being almost uniformly shit) stemmed from the fact that it was a rather experimental album – just look at how much they were dicking around with the levels and filters on everybody’s voice.  And while it still doesn’t excuse the album from being pretty damn terrible, it is an easily identifiable reason for it – and hey, you know what? Sometimes experiments fail.  That’s cool – I understand that.  But Magic Is Might is anything but experimental – it’s almost formulaic, and every mistake is done seemingly with conscious, deliberate effort.  O&U was a failure of creative direction.  MiM is just a failure.

As in Troll.  For anyone still confused, or if you just like to see me blather for some reason, check back tomorrow as I detail my grievances (and every now and then, my delights) at each song in my usual long-winded style.  Be warned – if fifteen hundred words is the concise version, the more loquacious version will be… shall we say… interesting.  Catch y’all tomorrow.  Wrock Snob out.

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30 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Trackback: Tweets that mention Magic Is Might, Part Three « The Wrock Snob -- Topsy.com
  2. whatsername
    Jan 06, 2011 @ 14:32:24

    Yeah, I overall agree with you about this album (except about This Town, IMO that’s the best song on the album and I really, really enjoy it).

    Although, Green Day has been my favorite band for a million years, and trying REALLY hard I can sort of see the similarity between one verse of HPiD and 21 Guns, but I don’t agree that verse can be called a “rip-off”. I’ve heard people (not wrockers) straight up rip off Green Day before, this is really more of a passing similarity.

    Reply

    • wrocksnob
      Jan 06, 2011 @ 18:09:04

      Huh, maybe it’s just me but it jumped into my head as soon as I heard the song the first time. Also, This Town isn’t bad, but it just sort of … sits there, for me.

      Reply

    • Steph A
      Jan 10, 2011 @ 10:32:40

      Funny, because 21 guns is a rip off of the ELO song telephone AND All the Young Dudes.

      Reply

      • wrocksnob
        Jan 10, 2011 @ 18:50:30

        Well, that goes right into what I said earlier about how whoever is getting ripped off probably ripped it off of someone else, who probably ripped it off of someone else, who ripped it off of Tchaikovsky. Or possibly Beethoven. But not Mozart. That dude was a tool.

        Reply

  3. Matt
    Jan 06, 2011 @ 15:55:15

    I have two comments.

    1. I hope MoM takes this review the way it should be taken: as a piece of extensive feedback, even if it is negative. Wizard rock may often function as a bubble of endless love and mutual admiration, but the music industry doesn’t, and any band that can top an iTunes chart should accept the reality that their work has reached a broad enough audience to be susceptible to criticism. It comes with the territory. If anyone needs a shoulder to cry on, I can provide them with links to professional reviews of my old band’s albums. Particularly that one review where the guy went on about how bored he was, and how boring I was. If that’s not enough, I can tell you the story of how the record label that released my music started to agree with reviews like that! The moral of the story is that I never stopped liking my own music and that’s all that matters.

    2. Snobbypants: I think you’re spending way too much time reviewing one album. I also don’t think MoM has ever set out to construct an aesthetic masterpiece. What were you expecting, the next OK Computer? I’m not defending MoM, nor am I trying to put them down. I’m just saying… this sort of treatment/attention might be better spent on an album that inherently demands a critical/analytical response.

    Reply

    • wrocksnob
      Jan 06, 2011 @ 18:17:28

      Hmmmm… in regard to the time thing, I think you may make a good point, but really, look at it this way – you could wait a week (not that I’d posted anything recently) for one giant schizophrenic article that tries way too hard to be seven different things, or you could get a smaller (sometimes even filler) article every day for a week. As much as Snobmas burned me out, I also really enjoy the challenge of getting something “readable” (results may vary) up every day, and I’m also trying to cut back on my verbal excess a bit. It may be the hallmark of my style or voice, but it’s also definitely a negative for some readers, so I’m trying to switch it up a bit, to varying amounts of success. Also, as for this not needing a big critical/analytical response, 1. I’m not really doing anything much more than usual, just I made a tl:dr article, a filler parody article, and two articles that were nothing but silly pictures and pie charts (the pie charts were probably not worth the time investment, tbh). 2. Well, and this is just a total educated guess here, but I’m pretty sure this is the biggest wrock album yet released, in terms of muggle exposure (iTunes chart topping and all that), with the possible exception of early HatP getting put in Borders. PLUS this album will probably sweep the WRPCAs, and it already seems to be really, really popular. So, yes it’s not trying to be a masterpiece (and it definitely isn’t, anyways), there are a fair amount of people who are going to hold it up as such, so…

      Reply

      • Matt
        Jan 06, 2011 @ 18:35:19

        I totally get your reasoning, and you make really great points for why this album deserves so much critical attention. I also find the silly charts and graphics to be a lot of fun. It’s obviously not my place to tell you what to do, but in general, as one of your loyal readers, I feel like several articles on one single topic is overkill. This main review (and maybe a couple graphics worked into it) would serve your purpose perfectly well. 🙂

        Reply

        • wrocksnob
          Jan 06, 2011 @ 19:06:18

          Hmmm… at this point, I’m just glad to get content up, you know? But I can totally see now how it looks like I’m expending too much energy on this (which, besides those frakkin’ pie charts, I’m not/haven’t)… Also, requisite snarky comeback: WELL THEN I’LL SPEND A MONTH ON WIZARD PARTY FOREVER!!! AND A WHOLE YEAR ON TREESTYLIN’! SO SCREW YOU!

          Reply

          • Matt
            Jan 06, 2011 @ 22:13:19

            NOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!! hahaha. Whatever. Seriously dude, do whatever you want. I’m just feeling chatty today. 😀

            Reply

    • Ryan Seiler
      Jan 06, 2011 @ 21:05:19

      Matt, your first comment is where my only disappointment lies. I figured a critic that has 41,920 views would have some real feedback for me. To my disappointment, I’m only offered the same form of review my mother gives (opposite in feeling of course); an extreme expression of feeling with no real analysis. *yawn* I give up on getting a real critique from Wrocksnob. I might as well use this time to talk more with the one that gave birth to me. So long. I hope good things for you Wrocksnob.

      Reply

      • wrocksnob
        Jan 06, 2011 @ 23:59:36

        Firstly, most of those views are me. Secondly, the in-depth analysis is tomorrow, but I gotta admit I feel a bit caught – I spend 5000 words reviewing something in depth and people tell me to take a couple Ritalin and be more concise. So, I try to be concise and then people complain about the lack of analysis. So I try to do in-depth analysis and people say that I’m nitpicking. Now, I’m thoroughly aware that this is probably the same thing I subject bands to (and before you ask, yes my medicine does taste great), so less a complaint, and more an observation – maybe it’s just human nature. But yeah, in-depth analysis (read: blathering) up tomorrow/today. Friday. Whatever.

        Reply

      • Matt
        Jan 07, 2011 @ 08:54:14

        Ryan: I dunno. WrockSnob has made it clear over these past few months that he loves you guys. I’ve seen him in action at several shows and I know that he’s a huge wizard rock fan. He gets into it as much as anyone else, and he really LISTENS to the music. I don’t think anything he says is malicious. I think he’s genuinely trying to express his feelings about the music. Also, he’s in high school, and he’s not a professional critic. However, he’s the closest thing wizard rock has to a professional critic, and I don’t think his writing is as bad as you guys have claimed it to be.

        Seriously dude. Think of a band that you loved when you were younger, and then suddenly they released an album that you really didn’t enjoy. You felt like the talent was still there but the songs just didn’t feel the same to you. I think this happens with every fan of music at some point. It happened to me when Weezer released the Green album. They went for something overtly poppy and devoid of emotion, and while they reestablished themselves as a chart-topper, they lost fans like me who wanted more substance from the lyrics and whatnot.

        It seems like WrockSnob’s had a similar experience with MiM. Does that mean it’s actually a horrible album across the board? Of course not. I believe Aaron called this album unapologetically poppy in a tweet. If you guys are truly unapologetic about how poppy this album is, then it shouldn’t bother you when a critic/fan expresses disappointment. 😉

        Just my two cents, brother. I’m really happy that your new album’s been so successful. Just focus on those thousands of kids who love it!

        Reply

  4. Matt
    Jan 06, 2011 @ 18:10:28

    And now that my comment has cleared moderation, let me clarify comment #2: As always, I appreciate the extensive thought you put into your reviews, but four articles on one subject with a fifth to come? I know there are several other CDs awaiting your consideration and I’m sure a lot of people would love to hear your thoughts on them. 🙂

    Reply

    • wrocksnob
      Jan 06, 2011 @ 18:20:24

      Oh, definitely, and to be honest, I am starting to get sick of the whole thing already… but still, not all of the posts I would qualify as articles, plus, I really just needed to get this out of the way and out of my brain before I continued. Maybe if I hadn’t promised to do it a half month ago, I could just ignore the whole thing… but I don’t really want to anyway. Though, I am constantly present of the giant pile of CDs looming overhead, threatening to topple at any moment.

      Reply

  5. Voldemark
    Jan 06, 2011 @ 22:41:53

    It’s so odd to be a part of something that generates so much conversation. To be honest, it’s kind of flattering! Not that I have a right to be flattered. I had virtually nothing to do with the record other than a couple of melody changes off of the top of my head (high pitched stuff I expect the fans were planning on hearing) during recording, so I can take little to no praise or blame for this thing. Never the less, I stand with my brothers. The Snob is right to be concerned about something that may garner greater acolades than it deserves. That’s hero worship, not credit where credit is due. I also think that Matt is spot on when he reminds the Snob that we just might not be aiming at Dylan-esque genius. It’s Pop music. There are some schools of critical thought which label that entire genre as un-palatable sentimental nonsense, we know that, and it hasn’t stopped us so far. Why? Because I think we’d all say that this has always been about the fans. The answer to what it is that we were trying to do is that we were trying to entertain. If you are entertained, then we’ve done what we set out to do. I’m sorry that some of you didn’t feel entertained. We’d love to make it right! We’re always open to learn if something substantive is offered up for consideration. But over all it does seem that the evidence we have suggests that many of you were entertained, and we’re thrilled to the point of speechlessness for that. We really are blessed 🙂 We love you guys, and we’re looking forward to seeing you at the shows over the next year!! Mr. Snob: Ahead warp factor hate-stuff 😉

    Reply

    • wrocknquidditch
      Feb 16, 2011 @ 18:16:16

      I just want to thank you, Mark, for making a really clear distinction between “brilliant” (genius Dylan-esque) music and “popular” music. One of my biggest pet peeves is when people discredit “popular” music because it isn’t “brilliant.” Popular music is functional and serving a purpose in the present, and there is no need for it to try to stand the test of time because it is…serving a purpose in the present. It’s a reflection of what people want to do when they want to let loose and enjoy themselves. “Brilliant” music caters to a completely different context.

      Too often people write of what’s popular because it’s colloquial, overly-catchy, or vocabularily insufficient (that’s not a word, but I’m going to pretend it is because I’m a musicologist and we make up words all the time) … but that’s not it’s job. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I’ve never presumed that Ministry is trying to be written into The Annals of Musical History based on brilliance of musical content. To me, it seems more like Ministry has a “popular” objective. 🙂 I think the legacy of MoM is more likely to be the good times and dance parties and facilitation of (get ready for this one, lol) wrock’s “ritual function.”

      So, yes. Thank you for making that distinction.

      Reply

  6. Melissa Anelli
    Jan 07, 2011 @ 06:44:57

    I want to thank Voldemark for presenting his usually no-nosed classy face. 🙂

    Whatever, dudes, this guy didn’t like the drunk on pumpkin juice track from JS4. And you can trust him?! PUH!

    But really, we put stuff out there, it gets criticized. It’s OK. There are some biting reviews of my book out there that stung, absolutely – but everyone has an opinion and that’s just how it goes. It’s how you take it that is much more important. If WS wasn’t honest about his feelings then nothing he wrote could be taken to be anything other than pandering crap. So it’s fine.

    Reply

  7. Slytherin Soundtrack
    Jan 07, 2011 @ 08:48:47

    Wow, I almost feel honored about the Even if it Splinches Me part

    Reply

    • wrocksnob
      Jan 07, 2011 @ 08:55:25

      Well, you should. I mean, if you value my opinion, that is (and I don’t know why you would). I was not trying to insult you – I mean, I absolutely love bits of Bella’s Love’s album, though it is very rough, and there are some very intriguing ideas in your album – I think that with some more work, you could really make instrumental wizard rock work really well – I already dig the electronic-classical blending. Keep it up!

      Reply

      • Slytherin Soundtrack
        Jan 12, 2011 @ 14:54:47

        I’m definitely interested in your opinion and other’s opinions for that matter. I just don’t know if I really dig your reviewing style. That isn’t to say you don’t write well.

        Reply

  8. Arodhwen
    Jan 09, 2011 @ 17:40:59

    Where, sir, is the blather?

    I was promised blather with in-depth explanations of these opinions and it has been four days, and no blather.

    Reply

    • wrocksnob
      Jan 09, 2011 @ 18:01:06

      1. We Had Class!
      2. By we, I mean I.
      3. I have been stressed by a lot of things for a lot of reasons recently, and that’s pretty much why I took my hiatus. I planned to write all the MiM stuff ahead of time and just put it all up and then decide where to go from there, hiatus wise. I succeeded in making 4 out of five articles, and thought that gave me plenty of barrier-time to get the last one done. But then things became MORE stressful, and the thing is, I’m not going to force myself to be creative AND analytical while under stress, getting no class credit or money or other kind of tangible benefit from it, and probably getting more stress as a result of whatever shit gets stirred up in the comment boards. I *could* force myself to do it and push it out, but it wouldn’t be as good, and I would be meaner than necessary due to the stress, and I don’t think anyone wants that. It’s coming, but I can’t say when. I wouldn’t hold your breath.

      Reply

      • Arodhwen
        Jan 10, 2011 @ 08:36:05

        Do please take a breath. It was not serious discontent. We all know you’re a real person under there with an actual life.

        No, but seriously. Don’t die. Death is no fun. Even with bubbles.

        Reply

  9. Sunny
    Jan 11, 2011 @ 22:23:15

    A friend recommended this blog to me, and I’m glad, because you are refreshing!

    Reply

  10. Michelle
    Jan 14, 2011 @ 09:11:16

    The feeling of disappointment is one I can relate to. Also, the description of boring rings true with me.

    And it just makes me sad. Cause M0M was my favorite wizard rock band for a long time, the band that got me into wizard rock, and I just feel like they are phoning it in lately. With this album and recent performances.

    Boo.

    Reply

  11. badger666
    Jan 14, 2011 @ 13:00:40

    I agree. I don’t think MiM is bad exactly, mainly I just think it’s boring. There are just not any songs on it that I can get real excited about. I like a few of the songs a lot and they are all pleasant enough to listen to, but I don’t love any of them. And I definitely think the lyrics aren’t very good. Some of them are just plain bad and most of the rest of them are just kind of boring. Just nothing new or exciting. I feel like maybe MoM’s hearts weren’t really in this album. Like they ended up making it because their fans begged them to do another album, not because they actually had the creative inspiration to make another album. I’m not saying that they didn’t try to make a good album or anything, I just feel like maybe they’ve just run out of wizard rock ideas. I still love the band, though, think they’re very talented, and wish them the best of luck with all their future music whether it be wrock or not.

    Reply

  12. Randi
    Feb 03, 2011 @ 17:23:45

    I was kind of disappointed as well. This didn’t capture me like when I first heard Accio Love and went on a Ministry of Magic shopping spree.

    Reply

  13. Daniel
    Jun 20, 2011 @ 20:43:20

    I get what you mean about a few songs, but I rather liked the entiriey of ‘Don’t Leave’. Thought it really captured the Ron/Hermione feeling. And ‘My Baby’ was hilarious, and overly poppy.

    I liked the album on the whole, but hey, to each his own, right?

    Reply

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