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4 stars Quintesentially English band produce one of their strongest albums. Takes a few listens but a real grower which in my case at least means it will be listened to regularly ad infinitum. My 18 year old son also considers excellent, so much so that he went out and bought his own copy even though he hasn't moved out yet! The only other albums he's done this with beeing "Free" and "British Steel" by Priest. Much of Magnum's work since Wings Of Heaven can sound a bit samey and thisalbum has a feel running through the trackstoo, but here each also stand out as individual. Bob Catley's voice never sounded better and Tony Clarkin's lyrics and guitar phrases are excellent on what was their comeback album after their "Hard Rain" project. The last real track, Night After Night, is the standout moment. A fitting crescendo a to a well constructed album. Great chorus too. It really should have stopped then.... It loses a star for the bonus tracks. The first live track is ok, doesn't break the mood. The last is acoustic and again ok, the second however is really poor.....not the track (which is on Vigilante) but the recording. It's off the mixing desk I think and is so poorly reproduced it spoils the ambience. So much so that I generally turn it off...a rare thing with me I generally listen to the end of things. If the bonus tracks had been on a bonus disc I'd have been far happier...and would never have listened to it after the first time.
Report this review (#114609)
Posted Thursday, March 8, 2007 | Review Permalink
3 stars I do have a bit of problem with excepting this album as a prog-rock. It sometimes feel that some bands are done with prog as soon as the CD cover artwork is finished. Anyways, the overall impression is pretty good, although Magnum made same mistake as so many bands before (and after) did - putting too many songs (even worse - live bonus tracks) on an album. This way, the whole concept of an album loses its momentum. Actually, the momentum is lost much earlier, with track no.4, when album fails to keep me interested. Not that it doesn't contain any good songs anymore, but album cannot be acceptable as a whole anymore. When you start to use skip button on your remote, you know that you passed the thin line between the classic and the singles collection album. And as I mentioned earlier, things only get worse from the tenth song on. Breath of life could work excellently as a strong EP with 4 or 5 songs (first three songs plus Breath of life), but as an album, this release is average.

I recommend that you copy songs Cry, This heart, Everyday, Breath of life and possibly the remixed acoustic piece on a blank CD and enjoy Magnum's comeback EP.

Report this review (#200284)
Posted Friday, January 23, 2009 | Review Permalink
Symphonic Team
3 stars Magnum is alive again

After a trio of rather weak albums released during the first half of the 90's, Magnum took a long break from recording. Following an eight year period of silence, Magnum released Breath Of Life early in the new millennium. This period away from the studio was probably just what the band needed to reassemble their powers and this album is clearly their best since Wings Of Heaven from 1988. It does not have standout tracks like Days Of No Trust, Wild Swan and Don't Wake The Lion from that album but Breath Of Life is a more consistent album overall. Like the 80's and 90's Magnum albums this too is melodic (Hard) Rock with only occasional and slight progressive tendencies. The style can perhaps be compared to Asia in the 90's.

The most important thing in melodic Rock is the melodies and this is where their 90's albums were lacking in my opinion. On Breath Of Life we finally have a set of strong melodic songs with some powerful choruses. And, most importantly, these songs take a while to sink in and are all the better for it. I don't like choruses that stick to you like bubblegum and are impossible to get rid of even long after you have grown tired of them. The lyrics are also better than on most previous albums with no obvious cringe worthy passages. There is not even one song with the word 'love' in the title this time! Another appealing aspect of the album is that there is a nice balance between ballads and rockers.

The distinctive vocals of Bob Catley is a large part of what makes the typical Magnum sound and his voice is as strong as it ever was here. We also have the usual good guitar work and a strong backing of keyboards, bass and drums. The whole band sound much more inspired here than they had done for a long time. As I said, the progressive aspects are present in the band's sound here but you have to look for it in the details; some short instrumental parts, some discrete twists and quirks in the songs, etc. This album requires several listens and it has a clear tendency to grown (on me anyway). Give this more than one listen.

Breath Of Life is one of Magnum's better albums, at least for a very long time. Surely this is not everyone's cup of tea, but for many Prog fans this can probably be enjoyable!

Report this review (#251458)
Posted Wednesday, November 18, 2009 | Review Permalink

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