MAGNUM - SACRED BLOOD, 'DIVINE' LIES
Review by Sloof
Let’s take the time machine for a flash back to Birmingham anno 1972. I guess that we would arrive at the famous Rum Runner night club where Magnum started as the local house band. Later on, they would cede their place to Duran Duran, but that’s another story. Tony Clarkin (guitars) and Bob Catley (vocals) started a rock band that established their breakthrough in 1985 with the album ‘On A Storyteller’s Night’. Every band has to deal with lineup changes, so did Magnum with a final split around 1995. It took six long years to get reformed again, and since then, they succeeded in releasing several albums with one constant factor: British quality!
After the release of their ‘Escape From The Shadow Garden’ in 2014, they started writing new material immediately. This is a constant factor in the history of the band. If they release an album, they compose constantly new material, with the end result of 25 new songs, ready to be recorded. Guitarplayer Tony Clarkin is in a luxury position to separate the wheat from the chaff, so it’s obvious that only the strongest compositions will remain on the list, in this case 13 tracks were regarded as timeless. Ten out of them are now on the CD version, but if you consider yourself as a Magnum fan, you will opt for the limited edition digipack where you will get the 3 remaining songs on a bonus DVD (including extra video tracks as well). Again British quality!
The album starts with the title track ‘Sacred Blood, ‘Divine’ Lies’, and bam! this one is straight into bullseye! A superb track with all the necessary Magnum ingredients. For those that aren’t familiar with this band, get these things into your mind: sensitive, bombast, solid, touchy and tender versus refined and sentimental, and above all: honesty! This band reveals their soul into their songs, they disclose their thoughts, they proclaim friendship and love in the best possible way.
Magnum stands for an honest approach, resolute to give you their vision in a world where the depths of the soul are preached. Sometimes, there is some heaviness necessary to underline their words, sometimes a gentle keyboard or acoustic guitar part will do the job. The result will always be the same: touching you with a musical landscape, that unifies the good and bad times of life. Be honest, an album with such a title demands your attention, isn’t it? Think twice on the deeper meaning and you will agree that Tony and Bob aren’t afraid to put the finger on the festering wound.
They get massive support by Mark Stanway (keyboards), Al Barrow (bass) and Harry James on drums to get the whole idea into an album that is filled with pride and some moments as high-spirited. ‘Crazy Old Mothers’ continues as another highlight where spherical moments are guided by a perfect arrangement and many breaks and bombast go hand in hand with outstanding vocals by Bob Catley. ‘Gypsy Queen’ is a song that can be described as trademark for the band and the keys get a huge spot in the song ‘Princess In Rags (The Cult)’. The second part of this track is also increasing the pace, so that’s adding variety at the same time. Another remarkable arrangement is noticed in the song ‘Your Dreams Won’t Die’, and the bass guitar of Al Barrow is well represented in ‘Afraid Of The Night’. I’m also impressed about the chorus line in this song! We get a more sensitive and quiet song with ‘A Forgotten Conversation’ and ‘Quiet Rhapsody’ to continue in one of the best songs of the album: ‘Twelve Men Wise And Just’. What a chorus line! Magical and exciting! After this highlight, we hear the final track on the regular CD version, and as the title suggest, ‘Don’t Cry Baby’ is a subdued track.
Everything on this album just feels right! The songs are excellent and transcendent, the cover artwork is another magnum opus by Rodney Matthews, who created numerous fantasy artwork and posters (check : http://www.rodneymatthews.com/posters.htm ) since 1974.
In my opinion, Magnum succeeded in creating one of their best albums in years! With this spirit and determination, they can add another 40 years to their career as the story isn’t told yet! As long as refreshment is present, they will please many fans of traditional Hard Rock with a slight return to the 70ies and 80ies but with a contemporary touch. Magnum is here to stay, Magnum guarantees British quality! Order “Sacred Blood, ‘Divine' Lies” via Magnum's official homepage at: http://www.magnumonline.co.uk/
My rating: 91 / 100
95+ : Outstanding, high valued albums & Classic Ones… a direct purchase is advisable !
Between 90 and 95: Surpasses the style of music, must be heard/ordered by every Metal fan
Between 80 and 89: Good in its own genre, recommended for those hooked on it
Between 70 and 79: Decent but best previewing
Between 60 and 69: Rather moderate
Between 50 and 59: Bad, substandard
50- : Rubbish