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3 stars A sort of return to the old form - British Pomp. Not a bad thing either. The first two tracks are excellent, Cry To Yourself and All My Bridges, they bounce along very nicely, though typical they do offer Magnum on their best form. However the album looses its way thereafter returning to rather mundane run of the mill rock by numbers, though The Moon King is the best of those other tracks. The obligatory ballad, the penultimate track - Feels like Treason, is catchy, this track gets under your skin, a very anthematic number. The final track,Blood On Your Barbed Wire Thorns, ain't too bad either, remeniscent of perhaps ACDC but with a distinctly British edge.

For a band that have been through the mill, there and back, Magnum have somehow survived the lot and continue produce great rock music; if elements of their previous two albums, Brand New Morning and Princess Alice And The Broken Arrow together with Into The Valley Of The Moonking had been released as an album they would have had a monster on their hands, as it is with only a few stand out tracks it remains only of real interest to Magnum fans or for those who are genuinely interested. Though with repeated listens the feeling of the album certainly improves. For the sake of those afore mentioned tracks and the ability to enthrall with additional listening, I'll grant a three star rating.

Report this review (#227308)
Posted Friday, July 17, 2009 | Review Permalink
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3 stars How many times do you hear the words "excellent return to form" in reviews in the music magazines only to end up wondering what all the fuss was about? The latest example of this for me is Magnum's latest album, Into The Valley Of The Moonking. What a great prog title that is! Of course Magnum never have been prog rock, more pomp rock, a phrase coined in the seventies to describe melodic rock bands with more grandiose intentions than your run of the mill heavy rock band.

Magnums last album, Princess Alice And The Broken Arrow released in 2007 actually was the return to form, an excellent cd worthy of 4 stars. Unfortunately they haven't kept the momentum going and Into The Valley Of The Moonking whilst being good lacks highlights and those killer tracks that make it stand out above the average. At the end of the day it simply boils down to hooks. Magnum's music is far from complex so there's no great musical interplay to get your teeth into and therefore it's down to how good the tunes are. As songs come and go I find myself enjoying many of them but they don't leave any great lasting impression that makes me want hit replay.

If you know Magnum then you know what to expect, Tony Clarkin's robust guitar riffs, the strong keyboard presence of Mark Stanway and although Bob Catley's vocals are sounding a little croakier these days he's still a great singer in the classic rock tradition. Most of the songs are mid paced rockers with a couple of ballads thrown in, well executed in typical Magnum fashion.

Magum have still not managed to better the excellent On A Storytellers Night, released back in the eighties, a benchmark album for them that I guess in some ways has become a millstone around their neck with every subsequent release being compared to it. Into The Valley Of The Moonking is a good record but ultimately just another one to sit on the shelf between all their other releases and come out for just the occasional airing once the dust has settled after its new album status is over.

Report this review (#229264)
Posted Friday, July 31, 2009 | Review Permalink

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