Voyager-X – Magic

Voyager-X – Magic
Dr. Music Records
Release Date: 22/03/24
Running Time: 43:29
Review by Simon Black

Voyager-X are one of those acts that never quite broke through back in the day. Originally starting life as plain old Voyager back in 1987, they ploughed their furrow in their native Germany, but by the time they had got as far as the first pass cutting the songs you have here in 1997, things fell apart. To be fair if you were a player in the Melodic Hard Rock scene at this time, hadn’t got a solid fanbase internationally and a bunch of decent albums in your back catalogue, then 1997 was a shit time to be in the genre, with labels ditching even the well-established and still going concerns in favour of anyone with a lumberjack shirt and an aversion to soap.

So, this material went nowhere and the band folded. Cut to 2019, and the core of the act re-established their relationships and decided to give it another go. Now, disruption from pandemics aside, it’s a lot easier to record and release material nowadays, with recording technology and costs more manageable for an underground act in this decade and plenty of specialist independent labels happy to feed into the revived market for this sort of Melodic (with tinges of Prog) Hard Rock. The only fly in the ointment being that the name had subsequently been snaffled by an Australian act, hence the addition of the ‘-X’ suffix.

But what of the music? Well, it clearly comes from a bygone decade in tone and sound, but this isn’t a dust-down of tapes from another decade, but a new recording revamping the songs that never saw a wide audience back in the day. Wisely, the band don’t try and ape the recording sounds of the decade, because if that was such a good idea, then all the acts from back then still going wouldn’t keep remastering their back catalogue every decade or so to keep up. It does have a very fat and reverb-heavy sound, but to be honest that’s no bad thing for bombastic Artrock like this. Think Saga, a bit of Magnum and a dead ringer for Fish-era Marillion in Mario Gansen’s vocals and you can’t go too far wrong.

Neither indeed do the band. These songs are by the book for this type of Melo-Metal, and the arrangements drip the mid-80’s from every pore, but the band have wisely kept enough Modern sensibilities in the arrangements for this not to sound like a long lost time capsule. It’s the Progressive flourishes that lend a more mature feel to the sound, and prevent this sounding dated but Gansen’s vocals also sound like they’re coming from a much younger set of vocal cords than they actually do. Whereas contemporary acts pull the key down an octave or two in deference to the age of their singer, Gansen’s vocals don’t pull the pinches and scale the range in unexpectedly powerful ways. 

The only time this sounds dated is when the inevitable power ballad rears its head, but there are enough lively rockers in here to keep the interest, although bizarrely the single choices don’t reflect these gems. ‘C’mon Live Your Dreams Together’ would have been my choice for a single, as it’s way more up-tempo and straddles the decades well, and album closer ‘Crime of the Century’ really shows the Prog edge off well (and will work well live), whereas the three singles all feel way more old-school. But hey, time and a live audience reception will tell.

‘Walk On The Dead Line’ Official Lyric Video

01. Janus Face
02. Hypnotize You
03. Magic
04. You Crossed My Way
05. I Recognize You
06. Don’t Lose The Path
07. C’mon Live Your Dreams Together
08. Walk On The Dead Line
09. Crime Of The Century

Mario Gansen – Vocals
Stephan Baumgärtner – Guitar
Jörg Schreiber – Bass
Chris Mordek – Keyboards
Peter Webert – Drums


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