MAGNUM - No Visitation For North America
by Martin Popoff
Yes, 'tis true, shockingly. UK melodic hard rock mavens Magnum haven't played these shores since they backed up Ozzy Osbourne in 1982! Crazy, but alas, not about to change any time soon.
Still, that shouldn't stop you from enjoying the band's unique brand of "pomp rock," an elegant, highly hooky form of mild metal that leans prog, leans Heep, leans eminently memorable with almost every track.
"Difficult to say, because Tony writes the songs," begins keyboardist Mark Stanway, asked what the band was trying differently on The Visitation versus '09's Into The Valley Of The Moonking. "But certain things you can get a hold of better. I don't know, this album, when Tony presented the songs to the band, it just felt like more of a vibrant album. To say the songs are better wouldn't be fair on the last album. Tony maintains a great quality of songwriting. But sometimes things work better live, and having play five or six of these live on tour, it's just like we've been playing them for years. They just sound so good. So I think it's went down well live. We still do the Moonking as well, but we're doing five or six of the new songs now and they just feel great."
Fact is, there's a definite Magnum sound, and it's not changed much over the last, say, three albums certainly. Fortunately it's a baffling mix of the above attempted... labels? "It's difficult with labels," laughs Stanway in agreement. "Because we appear in heavy metal magazines which, to this day, bemuses me (laughs). I can't think of too many heavy metal bands with keyboards, for a start. If I had to choose one genre, I would say classic rock. It sounds British, which is good, I guess (laughs). We just approach a song in our own way. We've been doing it for so long now. So I guess classic rock would be the genre. Progressive, I think of bands like Emerson, Lake & Palmer as being progressive, with lots of time changes and stuff. We don't tend to be progressive for the sake of it. The format of the songs remain pretty much a formula. You get a song, you get a verse, you get of chorus, you get a middle eight, you get a solo. There's nothing very progressive about that from an arrangement point of view. We do concentrate very strongly on melody though. It's nice to know that people are always singing our songs in their heads. So melodies are of prime importance, which is great from a keyboard point of view, which allows me to put flourishes and colours which perhaps I couldn't do in a heavier situation."
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