There are few great bands on our planet that you can infallibly identify within the first few bars of one of their songs. Their unique melodic skill, their tasteful instrumentation, the right balance of depth and catchiness, and then of course that charismatic voice: Magnum are Magnum!
I spent a lot of 2022 rediscovering Magnum after losing touch with their musical output after ‘Goodnight LA’. This was quite expensive, yet also really enjoyable, especially when I found some of their SPV output was very worthwhile. I was even more excited when they announced a show near me at KK’s Steel Mills in Wolverhampton in December 2022. I attended the concert on a very cold December evening, finding the venue to be a bit challenging, especially Its solid concrete floor, which transmitted cold through your shoes to the feet. It was so uncomfortable that I spent the last part of the show sitting outside in the bar area where they had a few old chairs.
Furthermore the show itself was underwhelming and the band actually seemed to be going through the motions, on auto pilot as it were. For a show that was supposed to be a celebration of 50 years of Magnum I felt decidedly let down and disappointed. So, when this new album, ‘Here Comes The Rain’, was released I was pretty undecided about whether or not to actually get it for my collection. As it happens, I did order it but recent developments in the Magnum camp have meant that I am still waiting to actually receive my copy (the one with a film of the show that so disappointed me). Thankfully, due to my amazon account, I am able to access an online copy of the album and it is this that I am using to review the album.
The album was released on Friday 12th January 2024, although, sadly, Tony Clarkin, Magnum’s sole writer and guitarist since there formation, had passed away a few days beforehand. He was suffering from an previously announced spinal condition that made playing very difficult, so much so that they had cancelled previously announced tour dates. When I received this information, I was extremely saddened by it as I knew that this same condition may have been part of why that show had been so sub par. I also knew that this could prove to be the end of this fine group. So, with this in mind here are my thoughts on the album.
I am pleased to report that, if this release proves to be the final Magnum album, then ‘Here Comes The Rain’ is definitely one of the better offerings from the band. I had felt that ‘The Monster Roars’ was a little too safe by Magnum’s standard, whereas this album has both great dynamics and strong material alongside excellent performances from all parties.
With Magnum you pretty know what you will get, a mid tempo song usually around the 5 minute mark with strong keyboards and a strong rhythm section, some solid guitar work and great vocals from fellow co-founder Bob Catley, whose voice is so integral to the Magnum sound. This album does not disappoint on any of those fronts, in fact it serves as a reminder, as if one were needed, of just what a strong group Magnum are.
The album opens with Run Into The Shadows, which is a great statement of intent with punchy guitar and cowbells or cymbals even! It storms along at a fiery pace and maybe just lacks a killer guitar solo. Tony tends to not play too many of those somehow but still this one really rocks impressively and reinforces their pomp-rock roots most eloquently. Title track, Here Comes The Rain features a sinewy guitar line and chugging bass and drums. The song has an airy, lighter feel to it, you can imagine fan’s lighters aloft swaying to the music (it would be mobile phone lights nowadays though, of course). This is another strong song from the boys and the great keyboard sound towards the end really works well. Some Kind Of Treachery begins with a ripple of piano before the bass kicks in, mirroring Bob’s emotive vocal. The drums then arrive and the song’s chorus begins. The dynamics of this song are excellent, as is the bass work of Dennis Ward adding much depth and subtlety to this great track. The keyboards of Rick Benton also sprinkle inspired magic over the track. After the Silence is a slightly faster paced song, lifting the tempo intelligently, it also has a strong backbeat to it and works really well. Blue Tango has more than a touch of the ‘Goodnight LA’ era, namely Rockin’ Chair ,as it lies in a similar territory. It is definitely the hardest rocking track so far and makes you want to get up and punch the air, it’s that good! It’s a real Magnum classic with a great organ break and a Clarkin solo as well, where he cuts loose in the closing bars, it’s wonderful.
The Day He Lied is about a relationship it seems and is suitably emotional, it also has a great guitar line running throughout that adds real depth and emotion. The Seventh Darkness is another superb track with brass embellishments which add a different texture to the song, as does a brilliant saxophone that duels with Tony’s guitar fills. It’s a subtly different sound for Magnum but it’s Dynamics certainly make a fine impression. This is a very strong track that is every bit the equal of Blue Tango. Broken City is is a moody, brooding track with lots of keyboards and a heartfelt, emotive vocal. It’s sublime and suppressed emotions really hit home. I Wanna Live opens with a subdued piano line before the song builds in tempo and power. Bob’s vocal is really on song on this rather fine track, one that reminds me a bit of those classic Magnum power ballads that we have all come to love. The last track, Borderline, is a fitting finale to what is possibly a sublime final statement from the band. It is the albums longest song and opens with an Arabic sounding intro before things take on a typical rock swagger. There is another a strong vocal from Bob and the song also has two short guitar breaks from Tony along with a strong keyboard solo from Rick Benton. I really like how this song plays out with an elegant piano melody that is almost bringing the curtain down on Magnum’s long and distinguished career. It may not have been intentional but it’s a graceful manner in which to end the album.
Unfortunately it is now all over and you are left thankful for a wonderful last shout from the band who will, probably, not be able to continue now that Tony is gone. I am so glad they were able to finish on a real high all these years after ‘Kingdom Of Madness’ in 1978. I really enjoyed this, their twenty-third album and eagerly await for my copy to arrive soon.
Released 12th January, 2024.
Order the album here: