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magnum theserpentrings
Artist: Magnum
Title: The Serpent Rings
Genre: Classic Rock / AOR / Melodic Metal
Release Date: 17th January 2020
Label: Steamhammer / SPV


Album Review

What do you say about a band that has now done 21 Albums (23 if you include two which were under the guise of HARD RAIN)? With the recent release of ‘Dance of the Black Tattoo’ an unusual combination of live tracks and festive songs that were released as promotional singles in the run up to Christmas, I thought it was worth going back 12 Months to their previous effort ‘The Serpent Rings’ which of course MAGNUM had intended to tour until the current climate intervened with such plans. So, a year on, is the record ageing nicely?

To answer in short yes. Despite hailing from England’s second city aka Birmingham, the direction of this record is much more along the lines of European bands / artists such as Marko Hietala from NIGHTWISH or SONATA ARCTICA but with more melody and composure. The opening three tracks ‘Where Are You Eden?’, ‘You Can’t Run Faster Than Bullets’ & ‘Madman or Messiah’ are excellent mid-tempo tunes, which would be the perfect soundtrack to driving countryside roads on a Sunday afternoon, and despite guitarist & producer Tony Clarkin being the only songwriter for the band, he isn’t overbearing on the recordings and every instrument + the vocals are allowed to breath accordingly and given the space to express themselves. Making his debut for MAGNUM on this record as well, is the American veteran Dennis Ward who is also the bassist & founder of German bands PINK CREAM 69 & UNISONIC. Given his smooth playing though, you’d think he’s been in the band much, much longer.

Next up is ‘The Archway of Tears’, a superb piece of AOR which is a superb modern equivalent of ‘Separate Ways’ by JOURNEY. Whilst the song does become its own piece, the beginning at least is eerily similar. This direction is continued with the more upbeat ‘Not Forgiven’ and the melancholic title track. ‘House of Kings’ is a bit stop-start but does more than enough to keep the listener occupied. Alongside the regular instruments, string arrangements decide to truly express themselves here. They’re featured in and out of the album without ever dominating any of songs they’re designed to complement, Tony Clarkin has done a great job here with the arrangements and how everything fits together.

The final third of the record starts with the Power ballad ‘The Great Unknown’ which wouldn’t sound of place on one of those Dad-Rock compilations that gets recycled for Father’s Day every year. ‘Man’ however sounds caught between several different styles and unsure of which direction to go in. If B-sides were still a thing, this would have better going alongside the release of a single as it’s not a highlight here. Penultimate track ‘The Last One On Earth’ gives an instant feeling that the album is reaching the end of its journey and its finale ‘Crimson on the White Sand’ gives an aura of “To Be Continued” which is appropriate here as MAGNUM have no plans to call it a day anytime sooner.

It’s easy to dismiss veteran bands as “treading water” or only making records to promote a tour, especially when their debut and sophomore albums have already passed their 40th birthday. This cannot be said for MAGNUM however. As long as Tony Clarkin wants to continue, there is plenty of life in them still.


Tracklist

01. Where Are You Eden?
02.You Can't Run Faster Than The Bullets
03. Madman or Messiah
04. The Archway of Tears
05. Not Forgiven
06. The Serpent of Rings
07. House Of Kings
08. The Great Unknown
09. Man
10. The Last One on Earth
11. Crimson on the White Sand


Line-up

Bob Cately – Vocals
Tony Clarkin – Guitars
Dennis Ward – Bass
Rick Benton – Keyboards
Lee Morrus – Drums


Website

www.magnumonline.co.uk


Cover Picture

magnum theserpentrings


Rating

Music: 8
Sound: 8
Total: 8 / 10




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