|Magnum Into The Valley Of The Moonking||SPV|
Few bands are definitely worthy of the tag legendary, but UK pomp/rock/AOR outfit Magnum definitely fit the bill. With a history dating back to the mid-70s, the guys are well and truly part of British rock history. This is the band's forth release since reforming earlier this decade. The three releases preceding this have had both plus and minus points. There has been some fine additions to their song catalogue, but also some filler moments and in places a lack of the band's classic sound.|
Of biggest concern has been the lack of pomp choruses and a seemingly repetitive slow or mid-tempo plod.
Into The Valley Of The Moonking fixes a couple of those problems, but at the same time sees the band dealing with a new problem a below standard production and mix.
Worst offender is a completely intrusive and annoying programmed cymbal sound that appears louder than everything else, while singer Bob Catley's voice comes across as underdone and low in the mix.
As has been the case in recent years, the track sequencing is questionable again here. I would not have opened with the very familiar mid-tempo plod of Cry To Yourself, despite it being an enjoyable song in itself (cymbals aside). It would have better fit coming after the more energetic All My Bridges and Take Me To The Edge.
Second track - the very 70s sounding All My Bridges - pretty much sums up everything Magnum. This is the kind of tune that has been missing since the reformation and the uplifting tempo is a welcome change of pace over recent releases. The song closes with a classic Mark Stanway keyboard fill reminiscent of Wings Of Heaven I'm not sure why this sound couldn't be used more.
Take Me To The Edge is something the last 3 Magnum albums haven't had at all a guitar fueled hard rocker. A gritty uptempo rocker, this song sets up the album (aside from the cymbals again) and reminds me of the Rock Art album.
The Moon King is another great Magnum track slow and bluesy to start, but featuring an uptempo pace change for the chorus before dipping back into a moody verse. Unfortunately though, the verse sounds as if Bob Catley phoned his vocal in from the Bahamas. Not sure why it sounds the way it does the verse is ok.
A similar mood carries over into No One Knows His Name, which also comes to life on a great bombastic chorus.
In My Mind's Eye is a well timed change of pace. Despite that annoying cymbal again, the song retains the passion, mood and pomp that Magnum songs are famous for.
Time To Cross That River is another slow track not quite a ballad as such but very very moody. Not sure why the 'powers that be' chose a live audience cheer to intro the track. It sounds daft.
This is where another rocker sound have burst to life, but that might be too much to ask of Magnum in 2009! For the reason that this is 3 slow tracks in a row, I feel If I Ever Lose My Mind gets a lost a bit despite a slightly more impactful chorus.
A Face In The Crowd is yet another slow track, but an acoustic driven ballad that features a magic chorus. A great sentiment here and should have been re-arranged in the track sequence to feature after In My Mind's Eye.
Feels Like Treason gets things up and rocking again finally with a fast and fan-friendly vibe. The chorus is catchy and the lead riff instantly memorable.
Blood On Your Barbed Wire Thorns is er .Magnum at their AC/DC best? Yes, it seems so. Reminiscent of Rock Art again perhaps, this straight up guitar driven rock track again features a dodgy cymbal track and interestingly, some bar-room piano, and is something different for the guys. I'm sure fans will be varied in their opinion of this track.
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