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Wednesday, August 01, 2012

Lucky 13 for massively impressive Magnum

LET'S face it, we've always had a soft spot for Magnum: great guys, great music and something uniquely of these island in terms of their sound.

But as they now have the title - like it or not - as elder statesment of British melodic rock, can they still deliver. In 2011 Visitation hinted that they could still pound out to the template of earnest vocals from Bob Catley, backed by the guitar tapestries of Tony Clarkin and the sweep and swoop of Mark Stanaway's keyboard. So well received was it that Visitation charted in the UK album charts at 55 and topped the UK rock chart.

New release On The 13th Day hits the racks in September and fans are in for a treat.

Our assocation with Magnum goes back to their performance in QUB's Speakeasy during the On A Storyteller's Night tour, backed by Dublin's Winter's Reign. Bob Catley - total all round top bloke - took the time to come across and spend time with fans in the QUB History Department's Common Room.

When they returned a year later on the Vigilante tour to Belfast's Ulster Hall they still proved to be all round nice guys as well as dynamic and bombastic perforners.

That was in the late 80s. This is 2012. With the new release can they maintain the momentum of Visitation, and capture that sound that enthralled Belfast audiences and was a constant presence on Tommy Vance's Friday Rock Show?

The answer is a loud hell yeah!

From opener All the Dreamers to closer From Within this is a tour de force of how progressive melodic rock should be delivered.

Catley's vocal performance has matured and has also added a dark menace as on the track Dance of the Black Tattoo to complement his usual soaring consistency.

Clarkin's guitar work is measured and rolling and swaying on Shadow Town, with Stanway tight and light,  the duo adding a lush landscape as the song develops towards a lovely chorus with a message.

Title track - On the 13th Day - is Magnum at their best: riffs integral to the song structure, not dominating; solo journeys tight as hell; and, Catley raising his game as the pre-chorus suddenly develops into sincere lyrical rhetoric for the state of this world faced with austerity and misery for millions.

Magnum prove they are not only relevant, but keep the promise that hard rock has a place in the heads and hearts of a sizeable chunk of the population. This album carries itself, not with the swagger of rockers content just to churn out what they made their name from: no, Magnum play here as if they were young début artists who demand your attention and that demand is easily answered.

And as an extra wee lift for long time fans the cover is by long time associate Rodney Matthews.

On The 13th Day is released on Steamhammer/SPV on September 24th

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