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Magnum - Wings Of Heaven CD (album) cover




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3.70 | 62 ratings

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Symphonic Team
4 stars Heavenly! (...most of the time, at least)

Wings Of Heaven is mature Magnum's best album with some of their best songs ever and with distinct progressive leanings. The epic closer Don't Wake The Lion (Too Old To Die Young) is especially noteworthy. This moving anti-war anthem is not only one of the most progressive songs in the Magnum catalogue but also the best.

But one great song does not automatically make a great album. Thankfully, there are other strong songs here. The opener Days Of No Trust is another one of my favourite Magnum songs. Despite being played exclusively on traditional Rock instruments; electric guitar, bass, drums, and electronic keyboards, it somehow has a Celtic feel to it. The guitar line that dominates this song sounds as if it could have been played on a violin, or maybe by bag pipes instead of a guitar. I get the same feeling when I hear the Barclay James Harvest song Taking Some Time On which opens their debut album - Folk Rock without Folk instruments.

Wild Swan opens with a riff that is more towards Metal than usual Magnum. But it doesn't stay there, it transforms into a powerful melodic ballad. This song is one of those rare Magnum songs that detract from traditional song structures. I would not call this Prog per se, but it certainly has potential to appeal to (some) people on this site.

Start Talking Love and It Must Have Been Love, on the other hand, are certainly a lot harder to accept. They are perhaps not even half as bad as the titles suggest but the lyrics are hardly original. And this put me off a bit, but I must say that tolerance for these songs has grown. Different World is ok, but not too special. But One Step Away and Pray For The Day are again strong ones.

I cannot emphasise enough what an enormous improvement this album is compared to the previous one, Vigilante, and also how much better it is compared to anything they did afterwards. Indeed, this album is a surprising gem in an otherwise weak period for the band. Personally, I also strongly prefer this album to the good but somewhat overrated On A Story Teller's Night. The band sounds more confident here than on probably any other album. The vocals are strong and distinctive here; the guitars, drums and bass are all very well played. The keyboards provide great textures and depth, sometimes reminding of Marillion (with which Magnum toured).

This is Magnum's peak in my opinion and a great album despite a couple of lesser moments in the middle. Highly recommended!

SouthSideoftheSky | 4/5 |


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