UK pomp rock legends Magnum are back, with a by-now semi traditional early year release. The Monster Roars, whilst not their best effort, continues to build on the good work made by the ‘new’ band lineup on their previous pair of albums, 2018’s Lost On The Road To Eternity and The Serpent Rings from a couple of years back.
2022 sees band stalwarts, guitarist Tony Clarkin and Bob Catley (vocals) in pugnacious mood; These pair have a combined age of one hundred and fifty one years, yet on The Monster Roars they bring a raw-edged sound to the party that we haven’t heard from this band since their very early days. It’s strangely liberating to hear a rejuvenated Clarkin churning out some truly classic heavy riffage on tracks like Your Blood Is Violence, whilst the stentorian chords he adds to perky opener The Monster Roars will be welcomed with open arms by long term fans of the band; And Catley? Well, if there’s a better voice currently treading the boards aged seventy four in the world of heavy rock then I’ve yet to hear it… On the album’s standout track, Remember, the years simply fall away as the diminutive throatsmith gives a tour de force performance that may well have grown men weeping in the aisles if it ever gets a live airing. It’s classic Magnum, nothing more, nothing less, as is the next track, the dramatic All You Believe In. A quintessential slab of Clarkin-penned drama, driven by Catley’s impassioned vocal, it hits all the Magnum receptors your brain has formed over the years at just the right spot. In short: pure aural nirvana.
It’s not all Clarkin and Catley, obviously; keyboardist Rick Benton contributes his best performance to the Magnum cause thus far with some tasteful ivory tinkling, whilst Lee Morris provides a solid yet fluid (if that’s possible) percussive backdrop to the band’s sound. He carries the heft of former drummer Kex Gorin and the craft of the much-missed Micky Barker, and, with bassist Dennis Ward he keeps things in the engine room percolating nicely. Ward may well turn out to be late-period Magnum’s secret weapon as he brings not only musical but studio smarts to the band; he certainly brings a new flair to the operation and, although necessarily in the background for the most part here plays an undeniably key role in the band moving forward.
It’s forty years since Magnum made their breakthrough with the titanic Chase The Dragon album; Listening to tracks like Come Holy Men, a strident anthem that could easily have sat on Vigilante or On A Storyteller’s Night, that time melts away in an instant. For most bands a run of forty months is good. To still be churning out the good stuff seven decades in is nothing short of remarkable. And Magnum are nothing if not a remarkable, and much-treasured band. Long may they reign, and long may this Monster roar…
The Monster Roars releases on January 14th.