Magnum - Lost on the Road to Eternity

Magnum Lost on the Road to Eternity cover
Lost on the Road to Eternity
Magnum are a British Rock Institution and one of the few British bands with such a long and almost uninterrupted runs (bar a five year hiatus during which the 2 primary people involved still worked together in the Hard Rain project anyway, which also was the debut for current bassist Al Barrow).
With some – I dunno, I feel this might be album no 20 or thereabouts, (a wiki check – reveals it to be no 20, indeed) albums under their belt, there’s nothing left for the band to prove. Their place in rock history cemented long ago, their heyday past, still however, even with a couple of its members into their eighth decade, they seem to deliver album after album like clockwork. And just like all great British things, they also seem to deliver without fail, time after time, in a time when the same cannot be said about the country in general that seems to be in turmoil.
With a title that seems to be a clever sort of pun, of them recognizing their “classic status”, their almost timelessness, which this album doesn’t sour, but instead further confirms.
“Peaches and Cream” is a sturdy and by magnum standards energetic opener that along with its proverbial wisdom, offers a peachy plum chorus and really does a great job of welcoming the listener.
“Show Me Your Hands” is more melodic, a little jazzy and more ponderous, with a liberal amount of it basing itself on the jkeys and rhythm elements and the interplay with Catley’s vocals, who manages a rather impressive delivery despite his years. Blessed not only with ample charisma and ability but with an insta-likable timbre, he has little trouble to make even more average tunes sound grandiose, not that this is the case here. The key and guitar solos despite not being too extensive, enrich the song, without becoming tiresome.
“Storm Baby” is a very stripped down ballad type of song that somehow gets very electric in time for its chorus. Catley during the verses sounds very stripped down in his delivery. A decade ago it would have sounded great. Now while not bad, his voice seems to have lost a bit of its flexibility and power. He still manages however to sound strong and quite powerful during the rather impressive and spectacular chorus, that a series of leads climax over.
“Welcome to the Cosmic Cabaret” is neat, pomp romp, but at over eight minutes it sort of really stretches its solos to an almost breaking point.
For the title track – it seems that Tobias Sammet (Edguy/Avantasia) returns the favor of Catley having sung on pretty much all bar one of his Avantasia albums in a track that feels like the perfect marriage between Avantasia and Magnum. Great melodic chorus in what probably also is one of the more dynamic songs of the album.
“Without Love” had me finger snapping the rhythm, just before I heard the claps… Gee… an obviously quite rhythmical thing that seems to look back into the later part of the 80s in terms of Magnum mannerisms, with maybe a little of that Queen prog-po(m)p attitude of the era between “The Works and The Miracle”. While the song builds, almost to no avail, the band does break into a very smart and quite nice chorus and not too dissimilarly the solo comes around, albeit a little less abruptly.
“Tell Me What You’ve Got to Say” has some AOR-flavored keys and a slightly tight, dry drum sound that was very prominent during the 80s (but not to the same extend). It goes on for a while before Catley breaks into a rather extended chorus, that would have been a little better, if this was recorded a few years ago. Pretty good song though and the solos also play variations of its theme, to strengthen it even further.
“You Wanna Be Someone” is a very melodic, let’s say power ballad. The sort of anthemic song that the band popularized by creating several great examples of. Not quite “The Spirit” and its ilk, but it tries really hard to enter that exclusive club and fails, but only just, because the bar is set too high. Still damn impressive.
“Forbidden Masquerade” hits hard after a mellow intro. Impressive in its concept and ambition, it’s let down by the execution of its underdeveloped “harder part / chorus” along with Catley’s obvious struggle during that part. Still, points for trying and for that and for the whole section preceding the rather show off-ish soloing that ensues.
“Glory to Ashes” is bluesy but not in the “traditional” sense of the word. Well its riff certainly has a bit of that quality, but the band continues being Magnum around it, which makes for an interesting antithesis, with Catley offering some of his warmest vocals around the chorus. A deeper cut, but a gem, nonetheless.
“King of the World” starts with almost an overture, that abruptly stops for it to begin. Where you expect mega pomp, you get a far more melodic, almost ballad-like start, only for the chorus to go back to sympho-pomp rock mode, a change that occurs, a couple of times during which things go a little polyphonic too during the chorus, which is a nice touch. (Think early Queen or latter day Savatage, before they decided to perform the carols). The couple last minutes repeat the feat and climax the song, before it fades with a bang… of a gong! Wow!
Overall, the ninth post-reunion Magnum album sounds like one of their most focused outputs since they decided to come back and is really solid matter of factly. Not that you’d expect otherwise, or really cared, as you’d be lost in the rich and dreamlike orchestrations of this little piece of eternity. Once more, well done!