Breath Of Life

Steamhammer / SPV

Having been at it for more than 20 years, British pomp-proggers Magnum never really scaled the commercial heights of a similar band like Rush. But then again, Magnum may have been too pop for the US prog-ish hard-rock wave of the early 1980s. Plus, singer Bob Catley wore a hat that only the most open-minded person would be willing to even try to look past.

Nowadays, the hat is gone. And what’s more, the market for adult keyboard-laden commercial prog is as hot as it could ever hope to be. And thus, Magnum may have a second chance at breaking into the overseas market, and it would be a well-deserved break indeed. The band has stayed true to their roots and deliver grand, considered songs — “works,” some would probably call them — that, despite the album’s pretentious cover art, avoid mentioning wolves’ cries (not counting “Just Like January.” And we’ll have to exclude the howling dogs in “Cry”).

Not really aimed at radio, this is still an album full of sing-along hard rock and synth-drenched balladry in the style of, say, Saga. It’s as good as this sort of thing gets, and Magnum certainly hold their own against the best of them. The writing and performances are immaculate, of course, and this is compulsory listening for those out there that loved Foreigner but wanted them to play more notes and intricate patterns. And while I don’t really fall in under that category myself, it’s hard to not admire the persistency and craftsmanship of Magnum.

SPV Records:

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