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Magnum: The Visitation

The Visitation is Magnum's fifth album since their 2002 comeback and in the same way that an athlete who has had a long term injury needs time to become fully "match fit" again, Magnum too steadily improved after their eight year lay-off. Breath Of Life was a faltering return, barely living up to its name and arguably the band's least impressive outing across their three decades plus. Two years later Brand New Morning proved that Magnum were back in business for real, if not quite up to their previous high standards, but from 2007's cumbersomely titled Princess Alice And The Broken Arrow, the five piece outfit were ready once more for first team action, before Into The Valley Of The Moonking from 2009 found the band back in top form. So has The Visitation continued this gradual upward trend? You bet it does!

Firing on all cylinders? On top of their game? Top division stuff? Take your pick from any of the superlatives, as with studio album number sixteen Magnum have released a collection of songs that is, with the possible exception of On A Storyteller's Night and Vigilante, the match for the top drawer of their own sparkling cannon of work. Long term trio, Tony Clarkin - guitarist, band leader and song writer - is bang on the money on every song, the unmistakable voice of Bob Catley is as strong as ever and keyboard maestro Mark Stanway yet again illustrates how integral he is to the Magnum sound. That said the relative newcomers Al Barrow and Harry James, bass and drums respectively are no slouches and the pair bring the perfect amount of precision and grandeur to the music to make the other performances all the more memorable.

Opening number "Black Skies" is a wonderful example of what Magnum do best, with its brooding riff, singing bass line, layers of atmospheric keys and Catley's soaring vocals immediately drawing you into the world that Magnum create. "Doors To Nowhere" ups the tempo with some joyous guitar work, while the title track lays on the drama with staccato barrages of melody being dished out in turn by Clarkin and Stanway and a gloriously laid back section that is as dreamy as it is captivating. The glory of Magnum past is brought to life through "Wild Angels", sounding every bit like a lost gem from the Wings Of Heaven era, with the military music like undertones being tempered by some great tambourine work and the husky, atmospheric vocals that paint a picture in a way that only Bob Catley can (no wonder this man is in such high demand these days). Clarkin lets himself loose in a variety of ways on "Spin Like A Wheel", with a bluesy and rock solos carrying one of the best songs in this excellent collection, before "The Last Frontier" strips things bare to allow Catley to really dominate over some deft keyboard work and whilst he shines on all the songs, the vocals on this track are just stunning. The celebratory nature of "Freedom Day" raises the spirits in a way that actually sounds rather festive, although doing so in a way that avoids being twee, but the slow build of "Mother Nature's Final Dance" is Magnum at their splendid, grand best. Subtle melodies, restrained guitars, tasteful percussion and the ability to grab the attention and keep it, makes this track a triumph. The string infused, but hard hitting "Midnight Kings" maintains the pace, before the closing "Tonight's The Night" delivers a melancholy blast that somehow warms the heart.

I can't pretend that Magnum are not one of the bands that have stayed with me throughout my entire music listening life or that having the chance to rejoice in one of their best albums is a pleasure that I haven't fully revelled in, however I really can't recommend this album highly enough. Released in January The Visitation is an early and convincing contender for 2011's album of the year!


Track Listing
01. Black Skies
02. Doors To Nowhere
03. The Visitation
04. Wild Angels
05. Spin Like A Wheel
06. The Last Frontier
07. Freedom Day
08. Mother Nature's Final Dance
09. Midnight Kings
10. Tonight's The Night

Added: February 8th 2011
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Score:
Related Link: Magnum Online
Hits: 3812
Language: english

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» SoT Staff Roundtable Reviews:

Magnum: The Visitation
Posted by Pete Pardo, SoT Staff Writer on 2011-02-08 07:24:35
My Score:

Look up the word 'classy' in the dictionary of rock 'n' roll, and chances are the veteran band Magnum will be listed as a perfect example of how a group can be classified and regarded in that high manner. Over the course of 30+ years, Magnum has been one of the most consistent bands on the scene, delivering one solid release after another and touring to capacity crowds, despite never really making it in North America. Their mix of hard rock, AOR, and symphonic prog has been winning over audiences in Europe for decades, and The Visitation is another stellar release from them, stacking up well against the rest of the winners they've churned out since reforming a bunch of years back following a short hiatus.

Filled with plenty of crunchy Tony Clarkin guitar riffs, Mark Stanway's orchestral keyboards, and the soaring vocals of Bob Catley, The Visitation delivers everything we've come to expect from this veteran UK band. This is feel good, memorable rock music, with tracks like "Black Skies", "Spin Like a Wheel", "Wild Angels", and the stunning title song, all grabbing your inner soul and never letting go. Not a clunker in the lot, and while there's nothing on The Visitation that is going to break any new ground, it's all packaged and delivered with a sense of 'class' that lives up to the Magnum legend. Highly addicting, memorable, and melodic.

This is symphonic melodic rock music of the highest order-you either love this sort of stuff or you don't. Let's hope that Magnum keep cranking out product of this high quality for many years to come.



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