- - - - - -

Magistina Saga - MV Best, Vol 1

Magistina Saga - CD Review
MV Best, Vol 1

Magistina Saga

CD Info
Starwave Records
8 videos



Starwave Records of Japan is putting out a number of these DVDs for various bands they represent. They’re not the typical concert footage type of thing we often get from Western bands. For the most part, they’re a collection of videos of the band, usually done in the style of videos bands do for YouTube. They're not all that way but that’s the general theme. So, there are 8 vids here with a total running time of some 40 minutes. But, you get a pretty good introduction to some sounds you wouldn’t ordinarily know much about so they’re sure a good way to get acquainted. And, in the case of Magistina Saga, you’re getting material for a band that performed at Oktoberhallen in 2014, one of several bands Helcanen Val brought over from the Land of the Rising Sun to perform this year. I previously wrote an article dealing with one of this band’s releases and my understanding of the nature of the material has not expanded over time. So, all I can do is talk a little about the vids and provide very limited background material. If you were at MFVF 2014 you know more about them than I do. But, these Japanese bands do tend to put on a pretty good show assuming Eleanor, another Japanese band that appeared at MFVF 2013, is any indication.

Now, you gotta be careful with this stuff, as I learned the hard way. These folks are visual as well as musical. But they’re REALLY big on the visual. I’m a little shaky on the lineup here, there seem to be 3 principles to the MS corporation of sound, iori is the lovely vocalist, urugi and kyo the male guitarists. And, at the risk of sounding a bit kinky, they’re all, ah, really good looking. But, with this one, there’s a drummer. Blond, hottest one of the bunch IMO. I asked Val if she had any info on said drummer, thinking I’d sure like to make an acquaintance. Val responded that said drummer was a he. I said impossible, if that were true I was planning to change my sexual orientation immediately (you know I was only kidding). So, Val checked and, sure ‘nuff, that blond is a HE, and the name, should you be interested, is Takurou. Now, to some extent they’re all a little on the “hard to determine” side of visual sexual orientation, well, except iori, of course. And this is not the only Japanese band that seems to take this approach to the visual. There are others. Which is fine with me actually. I just want to know the score in case I ever get in a position to become more personally involved with any of them.

Well, enough on that topic. The videos are done with typical Japanese professionalism. And, they seem to use a coloring scheme to define things. With Magistina Saga, that theme is something along the lines of a deep blue / purple tone. You get it in the costumes, which are substantial, as well as with the background material on several videos. It even carries over to the fingernail coloring. iori seems to be doing a Geisha girl approach on most of this material, not that I’m an expert on that particular fashion statement, but it does carry over to the rest of the band. Her facial expressions provide a Ying / Yang correlation to her typical body movements on stage and in the videos in general. It’s like the Japanese don’t want you to read what they’re thinking while their body movements provide a “House of the Rising Sun” perspective, if you know what I mean. And does it keep your attention up? Ahh, yes, rather nicely. Much as I love the Dixie Chicks, they never looked quite this good, and they're ALL women. But this seems to be an approach a number of these Japanese bands take in performance and it only serves to enhance the solid musical material they’re providing.

Again, there are two types of videos presented here. The first is the pure “YouTube” video we’ve come to love and expect. Solid videography, nicely edited, interesting stagecraft. You get this right off the bat with the first track , the title of which is in Japanese and I have no idea what it means. But, you quickly get to a very sexy close up of iori and you’re pretty sure this won’t be Country Western. The motif is that Deep Purple thing I talked about but the music is solid metal, with a lot of symphonic stuff from somewhere east of Osaka. I don’t know where that comes from but you’re so busy watching the band no one cares. iori flirts in a way that only the East can flirt and the metal pounds. This should sell better at Oktoberhallen than the Belgium beer. The second track is Shadow Game and we get back to that Deep Purple thing, but with a twist. With this one theres a blond and an apple. I’d say the blond is a woman but, once burned . . . as they say. Could be Ozzie Osbourne for all I know. Like Val told me, with the right makeup and lighting, anythings possible. Either way its a solid performance. We get some featured guitar material from the boys and they know their stuff. Anyway, the blond whatever it is seems to die at the end which probably gives it a Gothic theme. Works for me.

After artifice is a carryover from the release I talked about above. This one is pure YouTube material with the Deep Purple thing going overboard. Everyone’s hot, the music pounds, we see the best of the East. Again, there’s a phantom symphonic that drives the material but, more importantly, you get some close ups of the guitar players. Nice. I dated a lot of girls in high school that could have only dreamed of looking that good.

Double Face turns it down a little. And you get some more interesting video production. The music goes from hard to soft but when they really turn it up, the camera seems to pound along with the music. You even get away from the purple a little, lots of interesting video editing with this one. And, with this band, you have a lot to work with. The boys crank those strings with their purple finger nails in the best tradition of metal guitarists everywhere, they’re just better looking. iori does some sweet stuff here but it doesn’t last long. This is kick ass metal.

Fate Gear begins like an English sound from the 18th century. But then it cranks it up. My favorite blond drummer begins pounding like her life, er, his life, depends on it. This one has a completely different visual theme. We’re in a study, the material is a little hot, I mean the F stop. The dresses are a little more pronounced, the drummer never looked better. We get complicated material from the guys in the back room but the music is as good as ever. The vocals are a bit more on the hard side and the boys crank those axes in a style that has to put a smile on your face. But, oh the drummer. . . . stop it.

With the next track we go back to Japanese titles so who knows what’s going on. The sound has the feel of a 1920s Big Band track, initially. But, again, our lovely drummer brings us back to reality. It’s enough to keep me out of the bars. But this one drives, lots of backup sounds, the vocals take us to . . . ah, the drummer. . . . and a few other visuals that probably need explaining that I can’t provide. But. it’s damn fine metal, with some of the finest instrumental material you’re going to hear. . . or see.

The last two videos are live performances, probably somewhere in Japan. They’re not significantly different than what we saw before, just a little more lively. You get shots of the audience and the lighting is in something other than Deep Purple. But, if you were at Oktoberhallen you probably got a taste of this and I envy you for that. The band seems to be a little more “metal” in live performance. They do a little less of the Geisha oriented thing although this is still a long ways from the Supremes. You even get a little of the guitar players talking to the crowd which gives away the fact that they're male. Very good looking males but males none the less.

For those who attended MFVF 2014 this probably won’t provide much information beyond what you already know. Sorry, I wasn’t there. But, you got to see some of the best from the East. Helcanen Val has done us all a service introducing us to what’s available there. Let’s hope she keeps it up.