Magnum – “Sacred Blood “Divine” Lies” ( Steamhammer / SPV)
Literally fresh off their 2014 release “Escape From The Shadow Garden” comes Magnum’s 19th album no less, with little signs of flagging in this best of British pomp rockers. Formed in the late 70s, Magnum have gone with changes in the rock spectrum, but somehow, still kept it all very much in their style be it in their rockers, ballads or epics. With guitarist Tony Clarkin composing as a tradition almost immediately after the release of the previous album, the short list gets sent to vocalist Bob Catley, who adds his unmistakable voice to make the classic Magnum sound. With the finishing touches added by longstanding Mark Stanway’s keyboards, the rhythm of Al Barrow on bass and ol’ faithful Harry James on the kit, this is the way Magnum have been doing it for years so no surprises on “Sacred Blood “Divine” Lies” with plenty of hooks and catchy choruses. If anything this is more of a rock album, even more guitar driven than its predecessor with opener ‘Sacred Blood “Divine” Lies‘ having a mid 80s sound a la “Vigilante” with its mid tempo rocking while Bob Catley’s vocals build to the passionate chorus. Elsewhere the tracks go back even further to the 70s prog pomp rock style like on ‘Crazy Old Mothers’ or ‘Afraid Of The Night’ where the use of additional orchestral pieces adds to the grand pomp while providing the perfect stage for Tony Clarkin’s straight from mother earth solos. At times the vocal harmonies remind me of ELO like on ‘Your Dreams Won’t Die’, especially when those violins come in while the climax of ‘A Forgotten Conversation’ may start as a whisper but soon has everyone rocking in, from ‘arry’s solid beats to Clarkin’s flamboyant breaks bringing it all to an end. Heaviest – and also strangest – track had to be ‘Quiet Rhapsody’ which was anything but that with its full on guitar sound and thumping drums but starkly contrasted by Stanway’s synth adding an almost 80s beat over the top – definitely might need a few listens on that one ha ha! Others may come and go, but Magnum do little to sway what everyone knows in that they are the last remaining quintessential classic British rock band, and then some.