The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world

The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world


SPV/Steamhammer | Release Date: February 26 2016


BOOKS & DVD'S 2009-2014 

I always remember my first Magnum show at a tiny venue in Sheffield – their warm up for a huge UK tour. I was stood there beer in hand as Bob Catley walked up to me said a quick hello and got up on the stage, completely unassuming, very cool. I was struck immediately when the band started their set by how such a diminutive guy could look so big up there on that stage and also by the sheer power of his voice. I’d already been a fan for years, but that night I became a real fan.

Over the last few years Magnum has undergone a bit of a rebirth, after their initial split in 1995 and reformation in 2002 for the ‘Breath of Life’ album. Since then we’ve had regular albums that have just got better and better.

This year ‘Sacred Blood, Divine Lies’ adds to that impressive run of albums with ten tracks masterminded by Tony Clarkin and they are probably collectively some of the strongest work by Magnum in years, Clarkin seems to be on a creative roll that shows no signs of slowing, let alone gathering any moss along the way.

Opening track and album title ‘Sacred Blood, Divine Lies’ is the meatiest of openers sitting at 6.41 it’s a classic Magnum epic and Catley’s voice is in as fine a form as Clarkin’s incessant guitar – it soars to a trademark chorus and smolders wonderfully. It’s the very best way to open.

The delicate opening to ‘Crazy Old Mothers’ belies the title but we soon get going, swept along by the orchestration of the mid-tempo contemplative rocker. As a contrast ‘Gypsy Queen’ which was inspired by a concert in St. Petersburg, takes on a bluesier note counterpointed by sparse orchestration and Catley’s searching vocal, it’s a great song made to be played loud and heard live.

As the album hits its stride you have to marvel at the depth and consistency and wonder just how good the material that doesn’t make the final cut must be.  ‘Princess in Rags (The Cult)’ has a great initial groove and great energy; and ‘Your Dreams Won’t Die’ sets itself up as a call to arms not just for fans of Magnum but for the band themselves. It’s one of our highlights on what is a very good album indeed.

‘Afraid of the Night’ at first seems to echo Queen but levels out to deliver a bombast typical of Magnum at their peak; whilst ‘A Forgotten Conversation’ adds even more texture courtesy of some great orchestration and ‘Quiet Rhapsody’ seals the deal with a huge riff, it’s a song that lingers in the memory long after its final notes.

The album closes just as strongly with the low key and build of ‘Twelve Wise Men and Just’ and the epic closer ‘Don’t Cry Baby’ seeking to stick just as firmly in the brain, with its great chorus and piano.

This is not just a must for all Magnum fans but for all lovers of great rock music.




by Mark Rockpit



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