SPV [Release date 26.02.16]
Tony Clarkin must surely receive a public award for services to consistent songwriting. Since the mid-1970s he has been the main architect of Magnum’s wider and enduring success. And on this – the band’s 19th studio album and with writing beginning even before the ‘Escape…’ CD presses were cold – he nails it again.
From the opener and title track ‘Sacred Blood “Divine” Lies’ Magnum seem to have regained their late-eighties, early-nineties mojo. Fans will almost certainly undertake comparative analysis, in an attempt to pin the album on a particular period or previous work.
According to the blurb, Clarkin has taken an overall heavier approach and the guitar quotient is certainly no less than we would hope for. And of course Magnumites will revel in the pomp proportions of tracks like ‘Crazy Old Mothers’ and ‘Afraid Of The Night’ which will appeal also to Queen fans.
As you would expect all the band are on form, including Mark Stanway’s trade mark keyboard flourishes and the immaculate rhythm of Al Barrow and Harry James. Whilst Bob Catley remains the charismatic and resonant frontman, as ever the perfect foil to Clarkin’s creative muse and perhaps best illustrated on ‘Twelve Men Wise And Just’.
Amongst the highlights, the catchy ‘Gypsy Queen’, ‘Princess In Rags (The Cult)’ and ‘Quiet Rhapsody’ all tick the three boxes marked excellent riffage, memorable choruses, and worthy of replay.
The album’s last piece ‘Don’t Cry Baby’ is the album killer track and sums up all that is good about the band: it’s a particularly good song where the fade comes all too soon. And such is the sheer volume of Clarkin’s songwriting the CD/DVD version of this release includes three bonus tracks.
I’ve said previously that you will never get a bad album from Magnum and it’s really only a matter of minor nitpicking. The band keep doing what they do and with Clarkin at the controls and his able cohort Catley, the starship remains in rude good shape.
The same applies to ‘Sacred Blood “Divine” Lies’ which emerges – nearly 40 years after their album debut – fresh, relevant and, yes, even redolent of the glory days. ****1/2
Review by David Randall
David Randall presents ‘Assume The Position’ on Get Ready to ROCK! Radio every Sunday at 22:00 GMT.
The album artwork was unveiled at Rodney Matthews’ ‘IONAWR’ exhibition, 13 January
Magnum Tour dates (2016)
19.04.16 DK-Frederiksvaerk – Gjethuset
20.04.16 SE-Gothenburg – Sticky Fingers
21.04.16 SE-Stockholm – Debaser Medis
22.04.16 SE-Örebro – Kulturhuset
23.04.16 SE-Helsingborg – The Tivoli
25.04.16 D-Nürnberg – Hirsch
26.04.16 D-Augsburg – Spectrum
28.04.16 D-Ingolstadt – Eventhalle
29.04.16 D-Memmingen – Kaminwerk
30.04.16 CH-Pratteln – Z7
02.05.16 D-Munich – Ampere
03.05.16 D-Aschaffenburg – Colos-Saal
04.05.16 D-Hamburg – Fabrik
06.05.16 D-Berlin – Columbia Club
07.05.16 D-Worpswede – Music Hall
08.05.16 D-Bochum – Zeche
11th May SOUTHAMPTON The Brook
12th May CARDIFF Tramshed
13th May LONDON Islington Assembly Hall
14th May OXFORD 02 Academy
16th May NORWICH Waterfront
17th May NOTTINGHAM Rock City
19th May BIRMINGHAM 02 Institute
20th May HOLMFIRTH Picturedome
21st May MANCHESTER Academy 2
22nd May NEWCASTLE 02 Academy
24th May ABERDEEN Garage
25th May GLASGOW Garage
27th May BELFAST Limelight 1
29th May BRISTOL 02 Academy
30th May LEAMINGTON SPA Assembly
29.-31.07.16 D-Seebronn – Rock Of Ages Open Air Festival
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CROBOT Low Life (Mascot)
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WICKED STONE Unchained (indie)
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12:00-13:00 LICENCE N.2.O.2.R (Metalapolis)
14:00-16:00 ANGELA PERLEY 4:30 (indie)
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STEVE HILLAGE Open (1979)
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