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The Visitation

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01 Black Skies
02 Doors To Nowhere
03 The Visitation
04 Wild Angels
05 Spin Like A Wheel
06 The Last Frontier
07 Freedom Day
08 Mothers Nature's Final Dance
09 Midnight Kings
10 Tonight's The Night
On a music scene which laments with increasing vehemence a lack of consistency and artistic standards, Magnum are a band who possess these very qualities. For almost 40 years, they have been among the most consistent leading lights in rock history and continue to impress with their unique style, a mix of powerful energy, deep melodiousness and perceptive lyrics. At the same time, Magnum’s songs immediately captivate their audience and lose none of their fascination, even after repeated listens. “I’d even say that many of our songs reveal all their strong points only after you’ve heard them a few times,” guitarist/songwriter/producer Tony Clarkin explains, adding: “Our brand-new compositions in particular feature a large number of harmony and rhythm changes, I feel they should definitely be heard a few times so you can discover their many details.” Clarkin is referring to the latest Magnum release, The Visitation, due out on Steamhammer/SPV on 17 January 2011 (Germany: 14 January US & Canada: 25 January) and without a doubt one of the strongest albums in the band’s history to date.

The five Magnum members, Tony Clarkin, Bob Catley (vocals), Mark Stanway (keyboards), Al Barrow (bass) and Harry James (drums), have invested all their passion, skill and great experience to come up with an optimum result. “I feel we haven’t brought out one really weak album, yet none of our previous recordings featured a better production than The Visitation,” Clarkin announces proudly. “This release sounds more rock-oriented and at the same time more personal than anything we’ve recorded so far, and it definitely features the widest range of stylistic directions and atmospheres. What makes it so special is the fact that the music’s arrangements match the atmosphere and the lyrics’ statements. Every cog turns perfectly within the wheelwork.”

Magnum prove repeatedly on The Visitation that their lyrics are anything but superficial or mediocre: ‘Mother Nature’s Final Dance’ has the musicians decry the destructive way we treat our environment. “Just look at what’s going on in the world at the moment, toxic red mud polluting a whole village in Hungary, the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico – terrible. It’s always a mix of greed and lack of responsibility which leads to these kinds of tragedies.” The rock number ‘Freedom Day’, a kind of paean of praise to self-determination, is equally profound. Clarkin: “We live in freedom in Europe, but looking at a lot of South-American or African countries, you see oppression, you see people living under the brutal reign of a dictator. That’s why we say: let’s fight for freedom.”

The cover artwork, which was again created by graphic designer Rodney Matthews, reflects the lyrics of ‘Door To Nowhere’, which has Magnum look back at their own childhood. It would hardly be possible for a track to be more typical of this band than this number with its dynamic guitar parts, gritty arrangements and charismatic vocals. The Visitation will be available in four different formats: as a standard version, in a limited-edition DigiPak featuring a bonus DVD, in a limited-edition 2-LP boxed set, and for download. Starting early March 2011, Magnum will embark on a two-month European tour which will see the band present, along with songs from The Visitation and popular classics, tracks which haven’t featured on their live playlist for a number of years. So the party is about to begin!

Magnum were founded in the mid-1970s. Their 1978 debut album, Kingdom Of Madness, impressed its listeners straightaway with their varied prog rock of the melodic kind. Magnum II, out one year later, sounded even more symphonic, and their first live album, Marauder, arrived at the stores twelve months later. Chase The Dragon (1982) and The Eleventh Hour (1983) documented the musicians’ unmistakable development, but their big breakthrough took a long time in coming. It arrived, deservedly, in 1985 with On A Storyteller’s Night, Vigilante (1986) (produced by Queen drummer Roger Taylor) and Wings Of Heaven, which made no. 2 of the British album charts and spawned three top 30 single hits. Celebrated tours and invitations to most of the major open-air festivals of the Eighties followed, Reading Festival, the Monsters Of Rock in Castle Donington among them, as well as several shows at the Wembley Arena and annual appearances at the legendary Hammersmith Odeon.

In the early Nineties, the musicians flew to Los Angeles, where they recorded their Goodnight L.A. album, composer Clarkin being supported by Russ Ballard and Jim Vallance. The band’s record company released The Spirit, featuring rare or previously unreleased tracks from another studio session, towards the end of their mutual contract, followed by Sleepwalking, another new, regular studio album soon afterwards. The first chapter of Magnum’s success story ended in 1994 with Rock Art and a major farewell tour, during which the final live album The Last Dance (May 1996) was recorded.

Clarkin went on to work as a producer and songwriter for other artists, released two albums with Bob Catley, recorded by their intermezzo project Hard Rain in 1997 and 1999 (Hard Rain & When The Good Times Come), and generally recharged his musical batteries. Then, almost precisely eight years after Rock Art, glorious times returned for Magnum. Their 2001 album Breath Of Life oozed present and past all at once and was followed by a number of celebrated shows. “It was very inspiring for me to write and produce material for Magnum again,” Clarkin explains. “Compared to the Hard Rain tracks, Magnum compositions have become more powerful, deeper and more passionate.”

With their 2004 album, Brand New Morning, and a major European tour in late summer of that year, Magnum went even further, documenting that this band, like a good wine, gets better with every year. Looking at it this way, Princess Alice & The Broken Arrow (2006) came as no surprise but was the logical result of a mature and well thought-through creational process. Magnum demonstrated their superb live qualities again one year later on Wings Of Heaven - Live and went on to release another amazing studio album, entitled Into The Valley Of The Moon King, and are now set to unleash their latest masterpiece, The Visitation.
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