MAGNUM — The Serpent Rings (review)

MAGNUM — The Serpent Rings album cover Album · 2020 · Hard Rock Buy this album from MMA partners
4.5/5 ·
Kev Rowland
Three of the band may have been there for less than four years, with the latest recruit being bassist Dennis Ward (Pink Cream 69, Place Vendome, Unisonic, among others) who replaced Al Barrow, but as long as the band include Tony Clarkin and Bob Catley then that is what really matters (the other guys are keyboardist Rick Benton and drummer Lee Morris). I first started listening to Magnum at the time of their ‘Marauder’ live album which came out in 1980, bought the previous two albums and was head of the line when they released ‘Chase The Dragon’. That album, along with ‘The Eleventh Hour’ and ‘On A Storyteller’s Night’ cemented their reputation as one of the finest hard rock/pomp rock bands around, and anyone who has been fortunate enough to catch them in concert will know that reputation is richly deserved. Magnum have developed a style which is very much their own, in that Tony concentrates mostly on chords and rarely provides guitar solos in the traditional sense, and everything about the music is deigned to concentrate on the vocals of Catley. It is hard to imagine that at the time of recording this album he was 72 years old, as his vocals are still as powerful and strong as they ever were, while the person standing to his left crunching out the songs as he has for nearly fifty years is actually a year older!

I must confess to not having heard all their albums since they reformed in 2001, but it is hard to imagine there are many much better than this, as for me this is a real return to their classic form. The years have been stripped away, and to my ears this is a far more suitable follow-up to ‘Storyteller’ than the more lacklustre ‘Vigilante’. As with the last album, the Magnum logo is the same as which originally appeared on ‘Chase The Dragon’, with another Rodney Matthews cover and while the artwork will make an old Magnum fan smile, the music inside even more so. It is classic Magnum from start to end, and I found not only was I enjoying myself immensely, but I kept turning up the volume and joining in on the choruses. Clarkin has always had a knack of writing great hooks, and this album is very much a case in point. This is a band who are never going to stop recording and touring while they are physically able to do so , and although the Covid 19 outbreak curtailed much of their European tour I am sure they will soon be out when they can, providing they are one of our classic hard rock acts.
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Nightfly wrote:
47 days ago
Haven't checked out any Magnum albums for years apart from hearing the odd track here and there. You've inspired me to give this one a go.

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