As British as fish & chips and just as delicious – musically speaking, of course – Magnum have always been one of the more understated guardians of the UK hard rock scene. Not that they haven’t played their part on the world stage but there’s always been something about them that is quintessentially English and, much like those other British bulldogs Saxon, they have always remained ‘ours’, a proverbial ace up our sleeve for whenever the subject of British rock pioneers comes up.
“On the 13th Day” is the band’s 16th studio album – their sixth since reforming in 2001 – and sees the veteran musicians in fine form, opening with the epic and surprisingly heavy ‘All the Dreamers’ in which Mark Stanway’s lush keyboards add an extra layer of warmth to a ‘Kashmir’-esque main riff. The guitars are beefed up for the hard rock stomp of ‘Dance of the Black Tattoo’ which rumbles along menacingly like Tony Martin-era Black Sabbath, singer Bob Catley’s melodic howl driving the static riff into edgier metal territory.
The soaring melodies of tracks like excellent lead single ‘Blood Red Laughter’ and the 80s-sounding ‘Shadow Town’ – which bears an uncanny resemblance to Roy Orbison’s ‘I Drove All Night’ – creep under your skin in a way that all the best tunes do and you’ll no doubt find yourself humming them when you least expect it, although it must be said that not every track on here is standout as there are a few tracks here that could be labelled as workmanlike. However, for the main, “On the 13th Day” does Magnum‘s legacy proud and delivers a set of songs that gets the foot tapping and may even get those air guitars dusted down for a bit of a jam.