Reviews – Here Comes The Rain

01. Run Into The Shadows
02. Here Comes The Rain
03. Some Kind Of Treachery
04. After The Silence
05. Blue Tango
06. The Day He Lied
07. The Seventh Darkness
08. Broken City
09. I Wanna Live
10. Borderline

Impervious to time or trend and seemingly indestructible, MAGNUM carved a unique niche for themselves back in the late ’70s and early ’80s. One brief hiatus aside, the Brits have been making classy, progressively inclined melodic rock records ever since, and a particularly strong recent run of albums has added plenty to the band’s legacy.

Like fellow troopers URIAH HEEP, MAGNUM have done what they do so well and for so long because the core of the band has remained stubbornly consistent. Guitarist Tony Clarkin and singer Bob Catley enjoyed rare chemistry from the start and seemed to have perfected their unique formula on 1985’s “On a Storyteller’s Night”. Amazingly, they have continued to be each other’s perfect foil, and latter-day releases like 2014’s “Escape from the Shadow Garden” and 2022’s “The Monster Roars” have emerged, fully formed and extremely reminiscent of MAGNUM at their best. In fact, sensible folk might argue that Clarkin and Catley hit a new seam of songwriting gold in recent times. “Here Comes The Rain” is their 23rd studio album, and it is so assured and immaculate that it often feels like a lap of honor. In light of the shocking news that Clarkin has passed away, announced on January 9, this will at least be an epitaph of great significance.

All this has come down to great songs. MAGNUM are a traditional band in many ways, and their often pomped-up and proggy tendencies are always neatly balanced by the big melodies that flow from Catley‘s ageless larynx. “Here Comes The Rain” delves wholeheartedly into both sides of that compositional equation, and great songs are the outcome.

It begins with a trilogy of tracks that cleverly sum up the essence of MAGNUM circa 2024. “Run Into The Shadows” is the kind of driving, mid-paced and dark-hued anthem that Clarkin specialized in. Here, Catley‘s vocal is the key: a soaring cautionary tale, pristine against a prosaic backdrop. Next, the title track is a pure indulgence, with sumptuous strings and symphonic dynamics, but also a peach of a chorus that blurs the lines between resignation and hope. Finally, “Some Kind Of Treachery” delivers the balladry goods, with Catley‘s peerless rasp set against rolling crescendos and a melodramatic arrangement that just about stays the right side of overwrought. Thereafter, MAGNUM simply continue to serve up gem after freshly minted gem. “After The Silence” is a perfect slice of downbeat AOR; “Blue Tango” is fiery rock ‘n’ roll, but plump with pompous intent; “The Day He Lied” is a gorgeous, slow-burning showpiece, with a subtly gothic atmosphere; “The Seventh Darkness” is a riotous shuffle with a blaring brass section, a saxophone solo and Clarkin in rootsy upstart mode.

This is still defiantly unfashionable stuff, of course, and therein lies the appeal. Songs like the plaintive “Broken City”, orchestral pop-rocker “I Wanna Live” and epic closer “Borderline” have been written without pressing commercial expectation and it’s clear that MAGNUM have been able to operate without the need to constantly reinvent themselves. Nobody is expecting “Here Comes The Rain” to shatter epochs or engage the internet hordes, but after over 50 years of active service, Clarkin and Catley have built an audience who knows what it wants, and these 50 minutes of artful grit are destined to fit the bill yet again. If this is the last word, it will resound longer and more loudly than most.

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