Friday, February 21, 2020

Magnum- The Serpent Rings (SPV)

Image result for magnum the serpent rings 

   The Serpent Rings is Magnum's 21st studio album and they've hit a late career purple patch recently with their newer releases. When I say "they" I really mean vocalist Bob Catley and songwriter/guitarist Tony Clarkin who have been involved since their beginnings in 1972. My introduction came with their classic Wings Of Heaven album from 1988 and I've been championing the band ever since. Their sound is hard to put a finger on. Yes it's hard rock not metal with elements of prog, a hint of Queen and then I'm only halfway there. They have a very traditional British sound. It is a travesty that they are not bigger and are the Birmingham band that don't get enough attention. Polydor tried to break them in America hiring producer Keith Olsen and outside songwriters including Jim Vallance to "radio up" their sound that wasn't broken anyway. Inexplicably the label failed to release the resulting Goodnight L.A. album in the US, maybe the storm clouds of grunge could already be seen on the horizon.

   They soldiered on for the early nineties but seemed to throw in the towel until reuniting in 2001 and since then have made ten studio albums including this one. I don't know how Tony Clarkin keeps turning out one great album after another, you would figure at this stage a man in his seventies would have a bare cupboard of top drawer songs left or just be rehashing the same stuff, well there is an element of that with every band but this is not some normal "stuff". These are epic beautifully written songs that are a true joy to hear, highlights for me are the uptempo opener Where Are You Eden?, Not Forgiven and the near 7 minute title track that features a guitar solo to die for. Bob Catley still sounds great on vocals, no he doesn't have the range he once had but he has identity, you know it's him when he sings. It's comforting to know that as I near 50 this band are still out there and I can count on them every two years to come up with something that will still rock my world. They really are the old pair of slippers that still fit.




No comments:

Post a Comment