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


Into the valley of the Moonking

There is something very English about Magnum. Like toast and jam and a nice pot of tea, there’s something very ‘right’ about them. Something soothing, something comfortable, but also something a bit special. Tony and Bob have been at this for decades now, and despite the Tony’s hair going years ago they still know how to rock.

This is Magnum’s 15th studio album and their 4th since they reformed back in 1995. A lot of years have passed since ‘On a Storyteller’s Night’ still regarded as their classic release, though ‘Wings of Heaven’ and ‘Goodnight LA’ that followed were the albums that had them threatening mainstream greatness. All that now is a very long time ago.

The great news is that Magnum today sound equally as good as they did back in the day. Bob Catley’s voice is as strong as it was when he stoped for a chat all those years ago at a low-key warm-up gig for their just about to be released ‘Wings of Heaven’  album at the Sheffield Leadmill, only excusing himself when he ‘had to go onstage’. Lovely man, small like Dio, but with a helluva voice. But enough of meetings with strange men in Sheffield nightspots many moons ago…

Any band that can put out an album like ‘Princess Alice and the Broken Arrow’ (Magnum’s last album) deserves praise on two counts, the first being getting away with a title like that these days. The second is making an album that was a real return to form after two relatively-mixed post-reformation albums. In my opinion ‘Moonking’ is equally as strong as it’s predecessor, but just a little more developed.

Feels like Treason’ and ‘The Moon King’ would probably be my picks from the album if we were to judge it on immediacy. ‘Treason’ is a typical Magnum rocker and really takes you back to the classic Magnum sound (updated of course for 2009…) ‘No One Knows His Name’ treads a somewhat familiar battleground storyline, but stands on its own; and ‘All My Bridges’ is a nice rocker.

One thing that did strike me about this album though is the production, Bob’s voice on my CD is pretty low and the mix is a bit soupy in places, but nothing a bit of knob-twiddling can’t fix. I know some complained about their mix on their last release but I had few complaints so perhaps it’s just personal preference (or the fact I’ve just been cranking up the new Lynch Mob disc)?

Blood on Your Barbed Wire Thorns’ the album’s closing track is what it’s all about, Magnum at their most memorable, but this time with a blues-boogie flourish. The one track you can hold up against anything they have done in the past and it will stand its ground nicely. We even get the legendary Jimmy Lea from Slade guesting on this track, and what could be better than that!

In a nutshell this is classic-sounding Magnum with a contemporary make-over… sound good? If it does then be sure to grab the limited release digipack as it adds a bonus DVD, the interview won’t be the best handled you’ve seen but the live stuff is cool.