Magnum are back with a new album that has many twists and turns music wise for listeners as well as having all the ingredients you'd want from a Magnum album like symphonic arrangements, epic ballads etc. Soon to be former Thunder drummer Harry James is back in the fold which can only help the band as they have been switching drummers around his Thunder commitments.
After the short keyboard led 'Intro' it's a mid paced number 'Cry To Yourself' that starts the album of. This is a classic Magnum song with a harmony filled chorus, Bob Catley in fine voice (as another Magnum fan commented recently to me you can just imagine him throwing his famous hand shapes throughout each song on here) and a tasty guitar solo from Tony Clarkin.
One notable feature is that Mark Stanway's keyboards are used more than of late, listen out for the jaunty piano on 'Blood On Your Barbed Wire Thorns' or the layered keys on 'No-One Knows His Name' (another fine lyric from Tony Clarkin on the human cost of wars). In fact the latter is one of the album's real highlights.
The other is the title track that brings in one of those neat twists the band does so well. This time Tony Clarkin adds some blues playing to a song that is one of the most progressive on the album. The guitar even reminded me in parts of Dave Gilmour, due to its laid back style.
'Blood On Your Barbed Wire Thorns' is the other pleasant surprise as it starts off at a rocking pace before moving into a mini-showcase for Clarkin's guitar soloing and then Mark Stanway gently plays the song out to its conclusion - cracking stuff.
One thing for me that was missing off the last couple of albums has been a no-nonsense hard rock tune and glad to report the band have come up trumps, not once but twice. 'Take Me To the Edge' with its water tight rhythm keeps the feet tapping and head nodding whilst 'Feels Like Treason' is one of the heaviest songs the band have done in ages. The opening power chords alone will have you grinning big time.
This is easily their best album since they reformed. It has plenty of musical variety and songs that you can easily see slotting effortlessly into their live shows. That is no mean feat when you think how long the band have been going and the wealth of great tunes they have produced through the years.
Overall possibly less pomptastic than 2007's 'Princess Alice...' but instead you get a more varied song mix and heavy in many respects as well. With the excellent Rodney Matthews artwork it may actually take you some time to open your CD case!
Review by Jason Ritchie
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