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Magnum - 2016 Sacred Blood, Divine Lies

ARTIST: Magnum
ALBUM: Sacred Blood, Divine Lies
LABEL: SPV/Steamhammer
SERIAL: SPV 268972
YEAR: 2016


LINEUP: Bob Catley - vocals * Tony Clarkin - guitars * Mark Stanway - keyboards * Al Barrow - bass * Harry James - drums

TRACK LISTING: 01 Sacred Blood, Divine Lies * 02 Crazy Old Mothers * 03 Gypsy Queen * 04 Princess In Rags (The Cult) * 05 Your Dreams Won't Die * 06 Afraid Of The Night * 07 A Forgotten Conversation * 08 Quiet Rhapsody * 09 Twelve Men, Wise And Just * 10 Don't Cry



The observations are clear from my perspective, and that is: most of Magnum's recent output has been less than stellar. In fact, I think I may have suggested at one point that these perennial British pompsters should give up the ghost. So surprise surprise in 2016, Birmingham's favourite sons have returned to some sort of form. For sure, 'Sacred Blood, Divine Lies' is a superior recording when lined up against those other albums. Probably only the 'Princess Alice..' album from 2007, and I'd chuck 2014's 'Escape From The Shadow Garden' in there as well, are half decent releases. This new one is on a par with both those, returning to a more pompous climate. For long time fans, all I can say is: 'what a relief'.

The Songs
The title track leads off here. A guitar rocker mostly, tough and muscular, laying a platform and reminding punters that the band aren't a spent force just yet. 'Crazy Old Mothers' takes on a Queen persona, while one of the early album favourites is the keyboard laced 'Gypsy Queen'. I haven't heard Mark Stanway play layered synths like this since 'On A Storytellers Night', and that was an eon ago. 'Princess In Rags (The Cult)' is a punchy number, combining Clarkin's riffs with Stanway's layers. A Magnum opus so to speak. 'Your Dreams Won't Die' features a Wurlitzer like keyboard, the backdrop is supplied with orchestration, the overall result a symphonic number with a slightly pop overtone. 'Afraid Of The Night' is another Queen sounding tune, though it does alternate between start/stop verses and crashing choruses. 'A Forgotten Conversation' veers into prog territory, understated to start with (much like a ballad), but closing out with harder passages amid a boisterous rhythm section. 'Quiet Rhapsody' is anything but, it's a rambling guitar-oriented rocker, whereas the last two tracks 'Twelve Men, Wise And Just' and the lukewarm 'Don't Cry' log out with a whimper.

In Summary
Glad to hear Mark Stanway making a stand here. On some tracks his synth work was like taking a trip back in time. I've read a few reviews elsewhere online, and I'm sort of embarrassed to read the gushing reviews proclaiming this to be the band's finest moment. That is definitely not the case. Magnum fans are worse than Iron Maiden fans in declaring a pile of dog turd as a masterpiece. However, it is good to hear Magnum back to something worthy of their lofty position, and while ''Sacred Blood, Divine Lies' is no 'On A Storytellers Night' or 'Vigilante', at least they have given me reason to stop picking on them for the next few years at least. There are three versions of the album available. The standard 10 tracker, a dual disc version with a bonus DVD featuring videos and bonus tracks, plus there's a 4-sided double LP. Go to it. [word count 477]

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#1 | melodiapositiva on March 01 2017 17:14:16
I still like some of the newer albums, but what i don't like is Bob catley's voice since 15 years ago.He has lost much of the strenght he had, and this 'new-old' voice tires me .Something similar happened with Steve walsh, one of my favourite singers ever, and what an ugly voice he's got nowadays yuk

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