'Sacred Blood, Divine Lies'
Release Date: Friday 26th February 2016
Following 2014's brilliant 'Escape From The Shadow Garden' the Birmingham crew make a welcome return with their 19th studio offering.
If you were asked to single out the most overlooked and underappreciated songwriter in British rock history, I don't think you should be looking any further than Tony Clarkin. The 69 year old's prolific pen has given birth to Magnum classics like 'Vigilante', 'Days Of No Trust' and 'On A Storyteller's Night' to name a mere few.
However if you take a quick browse at a few of many top ten progressive/hard rock polls, Clarkin's compositions are nowhere to be seen. Still with a published catalogue fast approaching 200 tunes, I doubt he's losing any sleep over it.
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To follow up an album like 'Escape From The Shadow Garden' might seem an arduous task to most writers, but as soon as the record was let loose on the public, Clarkin kept his creative flow gushing to produce yet another batch of quality melodic rock.
That's masterfully displayed in the opening & title track, a big slab of classic Magnum from start to finish. A big brawny riff and a typical manicured chorus that is given the full vocal treatment by his trusted sidekick Bob Catley.
Magnum weren't shy in the past to turn on the dramatics, and while 'Crazy Old Mothers' displays only pinches of that, the big bullying keyboards are enough to give this stomping Queen-esque tune extra muscle.
Inspired by a trip to St Petersburg, the alluring 'Gypsy Queen' romps along with a thumping marching rhythm. Catley's delivery is so compelling and does evoke many visuals, I couldn't help but imagine hordes of town locals charging through the city in an irate manner. You might get something totally different, but either way its vagabond vibe will get you thinking.
Very often the best songs you will have the good fortune to hear are bulging with simplicity, 'Your Dreams Won't Die' is clinically obese with it.
Magnum have always turned out melodies that leave a welcome mark on you, this treasure will leave you permemantly branded. With lyrics like "sweet dreams, blue sky, their gonna take you all the way", the song is fully immersed in positivity.
It might not warm itself to the hardest of their immensely loyal following but to the general punter it will strike a chord.
The prog boots are well and truly laced up on the epically composed 'Afraid Of The Night'. Brilliantly constructed with Clarkins' classy riff, it's the haunting middle section that gives this song a flamboyant twist.
The huge rousing quality of 'A Forgotten Conversation' once again awakens memories of their vintage creations; brimming with dynamic drama, its fulsome chorus won't leave you in a hurry.
The big and beefy 'A Quiet Rhapsody' kicks in the door with sheer bluntness, sounding like it was done in one straight take, it's off the cuff vibe is infectious.
Clarkin and Catley have always been Magnum's front of house, and rightly so, but a lot of credit must go to their genial keyboardist Mark Stanway; the quality of his musicianship is a big player in the binding of the band's music.
On 'Twelve Men Wise And Just' his simple and ample delivery stitches this AOR-laden track together perfectly. Although the album closes in lacklustre fashion with a fairly limp 'Don't Cry Baby', on the whole, this record is a powerful collection.
After forty-four years Magnum are proving that there's still plenty of ammunition left in the chamber.
This track is taken from the bonus DVD
Sacred Blood, Divine Lies
Crazy Old Mothers
Princess In Rags (The Cult)
Your Dreams Won't Die
A Forgotten Conversation
Twelve Men Wise And Just
Don't Cry Baby
Line Up: Tony Clarkin-Guitars