Review by Woody
Evergreen and ever popular West Midlands melodic rock giants Magnum return with their latest album On The Thirteenth Day. They’re never ones to rest on their laurels and this hard-working band comeback with an album hot on the heels of last year’s critical success The Visitation. The band seem as busy as ever and after being inducted into the Black Country Wall of Fame at Wolverhampton’s Civic Hall last year they seem rejuvenated into proving just why they have such a loyal fan base, with more new music and another European tour that has more dates than most bands play in this day and age!
I’ve never hidden my love for Magnum and especially their amazing live shows, along with Thunder they are probably the band I have seen live most often and they never disappoint. That said I have found latter day albums a little bit patchy with many of the songs only really igniting into life when performed live. The evolution of the band has pleased some and disappointed others – chief songwriter and guitarist Tony Clarkin refuses to stand still and has re-written the songs from the band’s most successful albums, something that continues to divide fans.
After the first play of On The Thirteenth Day it was plain to hear they have created their most commercial album in over two decades! This is something that put a huge appreciative smile upon my face. More so than in recent times, this album evokes memories of Magnum’s earlier works. But don’t read that wrong, this isn’t a devolution of the band’s sound, it’s still very much marching forward but you never once forget whilst rocking along to this album this is the same band that gave us On A Storytellers Night, Vigilante and Wings of Heaven. I think it will appease fans who want a return to former glories without Tony having to give up his continuingly developing writing. No one wants to write the same song over and over, regardless of how successful or popular it made them.
One thing that is very apparent from the off is that they have gone for a much lighter sound – the dark gritty edge that has been part of modern Magnum has been replaced with that old familiar pomp and bombastic nature we have come to love. The commercial aspect definitely comes from the happier ambience of the songs as well as the heavier emphasis on the choruses being harmony-drenched fist-pumpers. Don’t worry there is still plenty of heaviness and crunching riffs from Clarkin, but the album feels fresher, bouncier and definitely feels like good old Magnum.
Clarkin seems more adventurous with his songs and guitar playing, he literally sounds like a musician reborn with a reinvigorated passion for his music. Things seem less reserved or held back with this album, Mark Stanway’s keys appear more prominent and very, very, fooking pompous! Keyboards have never been neglected in Magnum, but the lighter sound here seems to have brought out the best in Stanway’s sonics.
Uncle Bob is flawless, to the point where I’d bite anyone’s nose off who dared utter words to the contrary. Vocalist’s like Bob are once in a lifetime – powerful, melodic, evocative, and emotive and it grates on me to the point of inducing a one man riot whenever I hear the word ‘over-rated’. Quite simply Bob is a singing legend and the fact he never lets you down live either is why his fans are so loyal! And hell no one throws shapes like Bob live; these guys aren’t allowed to retire till I’m six feet under!
What’s so great about Bob on this album is he seems liberated, unchained and some of his vocal performances are just out of this world. Again the word adventurous comes to mind and the lighter, pompous and bombastic style brings out the best in Bob!
This is an album full of future live favourites, dance-a-long ones, head banging ones and a shit load of sing-a-long arms held aloft ones. Is this the best Magnum album in two decades? You decide! For me it is but I always feel with Magnum like the best is still yet to come… I love Magnum… So Let It Rain…
9 out of 10
- Visit Magnum’s website here