Magnum – “Lost On The Road To Eternity” (Steamhammer / SPV)
Blimey, is that the original logo I see on the cover? Some 40 years on and some things never change! Still with Bob Catley and Tony Clarkin, Magnum must be England’s most quintessential rock band, having not just witnessed it, but been a part of British rock history!! From their beginnings in the early 70s through the 80s there was the inevitable (and wise) hiatus from the mid 90s before a heralded return from which they’ve never looked back since. While the line ups have understandably changed – Mark Stanway and Harry James being the most recent departures – the solid core of British pomp rock in Catley and Clarkin has remained, and so Magnum has not only endured, but like fine wine, aged gracefully with ever promising vintages. Aside from the new (veteran) members, who certainly make their presence felt through their energetic performances, the “Lost On The Road To Eternity” continues the journey back to the classic days of Magnum started in 2016’s ” Sacred Blood ‘Divine’ Lies’. As per the winning formula, Clarkin has penned the material, but always with Catley in mind and man, have they come out with some gems this time around! Any lover of the band’s signature sound, rooted in the 70s taking in prog and pomp while mixing the epic with heart felt passion in an unquestionable English sound will immediately find embrace with the likes of the uplifting ‘Show Me Your Hands’ with Catley’s trademark vocals backed by Clarkin’s powerful, yet heart stopping riffs while new keyboardist Rick Benton, whose 30 years experience (including musical director and working with Roland to set up music academies around the UK) really brings his talents to the fore of the mix with some fantastic melodies. No Magnum would be complete without a power ballad and ‘Storm Baby’ does it majestically for me with its soft opening through Catley’s tender vocals until the power (and naturally the passion) comes flooding in on the super catchy chorus injected by Clarkin’s power riffs and Catley’s power yelps as he shouts ‘…warrior!!’ – yeah!! Returning the favor of guest vocalist on a number of Sammet’s releases is a collaboration with the Edguy /Avantasia frontman on the title track, enhanced by atmospheric arrangements courtesy of the Wolf Kerschek orchestra. Certainly not luddites, Magnum show their measure on ‘Without Love’ a modern rocker where Lee Morris’s (Paradise Lost, Paul Sabu, Marshall Law) rhythmic beats collude with the atmospheric strings while the gutsy riffs add the rock and Catley rams home another singalong chorus. Closing in the epic pomp of ‘King Of The World’ is the irresistible soaring melody that brings together the orchestrals and keys to add even more breadth and emotion into the track while Clarkin’s riffs reach deep into the soul and Catley’s harmonies echo long into the night on this spectacular release that will appeal to any Magnum fan, but especially the older folk. Still not made for the radio or in danger of becoming trendy (!), Magnum have long found happiness in sticking to their roots, but moreover, in our hearts.