MAGNUM – Lost On The Road To Eternity (2018)
I have been spinning several times “Lost On The Road To Eternity“, the new 2018 album from prestigious British band MAGNUM. The twentieth studio recording by the group led by founding members Bob Catley (vocals) and Tony Clarkin (guitar) introduce their current lineup, featuring new additions Rick Benton (keyboards) and Lee Morris (ex-Paradise Lost; drums).
And I did repeated listens because isn’t an instant album, but let me tell you this is one of the most elaborated – and complete – records in MAGNUM’s career.
Benton joined the MAGNUM camp in December 2016 to replace longstanding member Mark Stanway, while Morris took over from Harry James only a few months ago. Complete with this strong team, “Lost On The Road To Eternity” confirms this band still have a lot to offer musically.
Featuring eleven new tracks with additional arrangements by the world’s largest orchestra, The Wolf Kerschek Orchestra, as well as Lee Small (Shy, Phenomena) on backing vocals, and a vocal guest spot by Tobias Sammet (Edguy/Avantasia) – as thanks for Catley’s contributions to Avantasia albums over the years – this album is packed with treats.
The album opens in a classic MAGNUM sound with “Peaches and Cream,” blustery and lively, with catchy rhythms, it is destined to get audiences clapping along when played live.
With the next track, “Show Me Your Hands,” we get more of a taste of how Benton will fit into the band; much as Stanway will be missed by fans, the new keyboards work well with Clarkin’s melody.
Taking a gentler stance, “Storm Baby” is a traditional MAGNUM ballad, tinged with melancholy and powered by colossal riffs and bass-lines. That in mind, its tenderness reaches into the listener’s heart and finds a space to fill; ballads are something the band are masters at.
Thereafter, the longest of the tracks, “Welcome To The Cosmic Cabaret,” is an epic Prog-Rock offering, and a bit different from the band is used for. Portraying a fascinating story that entices you to listen and captures you within its coolness, there is an instrumental break that oozes ’80s synths and a solid drum beat that drives the song; it winds through different segments like a river meandering through different landscapes until it vanishes into the sea.
Beginning with a tremendous intro that is as uplifting as a Julie Andrews’ musical, the title-track “Lost on the Road to Eternity” features Tobias Sammet from Avantasia. Giving the song a different edge, Sammet’s vocal style is very different to Catley, and they complement each other well. It has some delightful elements; the song would fit well on the Wings of Heaven album stylistically because it has the same arena presence and boldness.
Moving along, a drumming intro announces the start of the first single, “Without Love,” while showcasing Morris’ gear drumming style. With an easiness to his playing, the rhythm is relentless and compelling but the guitar work steals the show towards the end of the song.
Every inch a classic, “Tell Me What You’ve Got to Say” blends everything that is traditional MAGNUM style and binds it together in a rhythmic masterclass.
Then, featuring some delicious harmony backing vocals, “Ya Wanna Be Someone” has guest vocalist Lee Small. Joining Bob Catley and Al Barrow, it gives the song a triumphant feel while the mocking lyrics deride those who believe they are more important than anyone else.
This is before “Forbidden Masquerade,” which starts slow and then blows you away. Delivering some solid punches, the track lulls you into a sense of security and then hits you again before reaching a spiritual end.
Showing they can get serious when they want to, “Glory to Ashes” visits one of the band’s favorite topics: war and social injustice. It has a militaristic beat underlying a desperate groove, making for a very moving track with delicate flourishes.
Finally, bringing the album to a glorious end, “King of the World” has a bluesy guitar, poignant drumming, and fantastic descriptive lyrics. The second longest of the album, it could be seen as a religious song, but it has an ambiguity that stops it being pious; a pleasing conclusion to a special album.
MAGNUM epitomise British Progressive Melodic Hard Rock. Their songs are beautifully-crafted stories, and their enthusiasm and energy have not waned throughout the years.
Catley and Clarkin certainly do not sound their ages, with Catley’s voice still clear and powerful as he hits every note. The songwriting is in top form too as they shows no sign of slowing down or running out of ideas.
While there are remnants of past decades of music, the ’70s or ’80s especially, echoing throughout the music, these tracks are not stuck in a time warp; instead they have a current and vital style that fits them right into today.
01. Peaches and Cream
02. Show Me Your Hands
03. Storm Baby
04. Welcome To The Cosmic Cabaret
05. Lost On The Road To Eternity
06. Without Love
07. Tell Me What You’ve Got To Say
08. Ya Wanna Be Someone
09. Forbidden Masquerade
10. Glory To Ashes
11. King Of The World
Tony Clarkin – guitar
Bob Catley – vocals
Al Barrow – bass guitar
Rick Benton – keyboards
Lee Morris – drums
Tobias Sammet – guest vocals on 5