Magnum is a band that doesn't need any introduction. The band's history spans almost four decades. Magnum's music is characterized by a typical sound: a mixture of pomp rock, AOR and melodic rock with a touch of progressive rock. Through the years the band has always released highly acclaimed albums. Steady elements in the band have been their main songwriter and guitarist Tony Clarkin and vocalist and frontman Bob Catley. Magnum recorded their fifteenth studio album The Visitation together with Mark Stanway, who also spent most of his career with these two guys, bass player Al Barrow and former Thunder-drummer Harry James - both band members since the reunion album Breath Of Life (2002).
So, can a band like Magnum come up with some new and refreshing ideas after fourteen albums? Well, to be honest, I don't think so. Let me explain; as usual all compositions are written by Tony Clarkin and for a songwriter, he keeps true to the music he has always written and that surely is the music listeners want to hear. If Magnum came up with a sparking new sound, I think the people who fancy their music from the beginning would be deeply disappointed in their favourite band. For me, the highlights on the album are the opener Black Skies, with a nice and powerful opening riff and typical vocals, the great instrumental part in the title track The Visitation and Spin Like A Wheel that evokes nostalgic feelings. The Last Frontier has a fine orchestral touch and represents the quality of the songs.
The main characteristics of Magnum's strength are the recognizable compositions, the very melodic vocals, the keyboards in the background with an occasional piano or synth solo and off course the light progressive guitar sounds and the melodic guitar solos by Tony Clarkin. And that's exactly what you get on this album. No big surprises, no weird sounding compositions, but songs easily to digest. You get the quality you are accustomed to from a band that's around for so long. Quality it has, there's no doubt about that. Through the years Magnum has proven to be a consistent factor in the British melodic pomp rock and progressive rock scene. The Visitation is a perfect addition to their extensive repertoire that can easily keep up with the high standard of the previous releases. I don't think this album will end up in my top-10 for 2011, but every time I listen to it, a smile appears on my face and I'm thankful that a band as Magnum is still around while delivering such a high standard of powerful rock music.
*** Pedro Bekkers (edited by Peter Willemsen)
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