Magnum – Into The Valley Of The Moonking (SPV/Riot)

The cover might look prog rock, the title might have you thinking of Yes, but this is an album that is steeped in 80s stadium rock, lighters waving, girls swaying and a t-shirt purchase on the way out. The latest from this legendary UK rock/AOR band is nothing short of great.

Magnum guitarist Tony Clarkin and vocalist Bob Catley have been together since 1972, so it’s no surprise that they fit so well together.  With In The Valley Of The Moon King the duo (and the latest version of Magnum - most of whom have been there since 2001) have crafted a stunning follow-up to the critically acclaimed Princess Alice And The Broken Arrow. 

From the keyboard intro that leads into power ballad Cry To Yourself through the jaunty keyboard driven All My Bridges and the rocking Take Me To The Edge, the band shows you straight away what you are going to get. Solid riffs, a punching rhythm section, great vocals, slick guitar work, clean production and a great album.  Nothing overpowering, but nothing underdone either.  Look, they’ve been doing this stuff for ever, they know what they’re doing, if you are a fan you know what you are getting.  If you haven’t really got into them, thinking that they’re just another bunch of old codgers trying to relive their “glory days”, you might be pleasantly surprised.

The Moon King slides into bluesy smoke and whiskey territory, Time To Cross That River has that Scorpions ballad territory feel to it, there are pianos tinkling in A Face In The Crowd. It’s all class, all clean and simple and smooth, and I can’t begrudge them that because the old buggers do it so well!

And then on the final track, Blood On Your Barbed Wire Thorns Clarkin really opens up with a riff stolen straight from AC/DC’s Give Me A Bullet, that crackles along before drifting down into some beautiful bluesy riffing. 

This is an album that should be listened to on vinyl, with a gatefold sleeve, liner notes; on a big old stereo booming it out. That's why its so fucking great to see that as well as the CD and CD/DVD packs there is indeed a double LP with gatefold sleeve being released!! That’s the real way to listen to this album.  It’s not nostalgia, its rock and roll and I like it.

Magnum's In the Valley of the Moon King is out now on SPV/Riot.