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Magnum - The Eleventh Hour CD (album) cover




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3.24 | 68 ratings

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Prog Metal and Heavy Prog Teams
4 stars No winners or losers

The fourth studio album (fifth release overall) from MAGNUM is the last from the band's era with Jet Records and a transitional one. Transitional in a sense that retains most of the elements from the previous Chase the Dragon (mostly in the first half of the record) and introduces the band's future sound in the second half which is closer to standard AOR forms. It also preserves the excellent tradition of cover artwork, with the most bizarre, creepy and almost 'prophetic' composition from Rodney Matthews - quite contrary to the 'pleasing' sound of the album.

Another tradition retained here is that of the great openers. The Prize is one of those dynamic and uplifting MAGNUM rocker tracks that borrow the best components of classic, guitar-oriented rock/metal and heavy prog related aspects. The characteristic acoustic guitars on the opening and closing seconds add to the quality as it happens with the catchy Styx-influenced vocals during the refrain. Tracks that follow the same heavy rock pattern are The Great Disaster (heaviest track on the album) and the epic-pomp Vicious Companions which mirrors The Spirit from Chase the Dragon, building up gradually after a Wishbone Ash-like acoustic intro and subsequent fillings. The vocal melodies are once again stunning with Bob Catley experimenting with endings in the refrains that resemble to R. J. Dio's templates.

So Far Away, Hit and Run and Young and Precious Souls represent another set of hard rock tracks which are slightly more melodic. The first one being the heaviest while the other two are closer to standard AOR. This set of tracks is relatively weaker than their predecessors with Hit and Run being the low point of this release.

The rest of the album consists of four (!) prog-AOR based ballads or semi-ballads. Breakdown kicks off with a Kansas-like keyboard intro and follows on a melodic piano background leading to a pleasant tune filled with heavy slow guitars. One Night of Passion and The Word are tunes directly related to Toto and Asia sounding quite attractive because of the successful blending of melodies. Road to Paradise that concludes the album is the most prog and most interesting in this category with references to heavy prog in the vein of Uriah Heep both in the acoustic and guitar riff sections.

Lyrically, the album stands on solid grounds with some inspired lines. Truly, the heaviest tracks on the album are the finest to my ears while the mellower ones retain enough songwriting quality. Even the rating for this album seems transitional to me; from the excellent Chase the Dragon to the solid-but-common On A Storyteller's Night, The Eleventh Hour is somewhere in the middle and worth 3.5 stars in my book, rounded up to 4 because of the enjoyable listening.

PS The extended edition includes outtakes, acoustic and BBC versions and are a fairly good addition to the album tracks but not essential to the package.

aapatsos | 4/5 |


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