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Magnum - On the 13th Day (SPV/Steamhammer)

By: Kenneth Gallant

[7/10] Vocalist Bob Catley and guitarist Tony Clarkin have had an enduring working relationship that spans close to 34 years. They formed Magnum and had a good run from 1978 until they split in 1994 after a series of cancelled tour dates forced them to call it a day. It wouldn’t be the end of that relationship though, since both musicians went on to form Hard Rain. When that new outfit faded out, Catley and Clarkin reformed Magnum in 2002 and have been on a tear ever since.

Working on their 17th release, Magnum returns with an album entitled On the 13th Day, and it manages to stand tall and proud among the releases that have come before. The band’s formula runs fairly close to their last three studio releases, but there are several tracks here that have a strong appeal. The most obvious track is “So Let it Rain,” as it manages to be the catchiest song in the bunch. “Blood Red Laughter” reminds me of Journey (in their peak) and it exhibits strong lyrics and a pleasing melody that I enjoyed immensely. The song “Shadow Town” flows well and is quite mellow and light, but the band contrasts this with edgier numbers like “Dance of the Black Tattoo” and “See How they Fall.”

As a vocalist though, Bob Catley has definitely shown some wear and tear in his voice, but that doesn’t stop him from proving his worth as a frontman. His style these days is a bit rougher, but still retaining some warmth and appeal he had from years before. His delivery and overall performance on the opening number “All the Dreamers” still proves he has enough juice in the tank to carry Magnum forward for a few more years. His bandmates also all help to support Catley in numerous ways and in particular keyboardist Mark Stanway (adding on the layers) helps to keep their signature sound intact.

It’s hard to believe Magnum have been around for close to three decades, give or take a few years when the band was disbanded. Since reforming the band for a second time though, they continue to sound refreshed and refine their sound like fine whine. On the 13th Day won’t be revolutionary nor will it reinvent the wheel for progressive rock, but it will prove they still can churn out a reliable release that blends the elements of Magnum’s past glories.

Mangum Official Site

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