Magnum – The Serpent Rings (SPV)

There’s a heavier, more robust feel to Magnum’s 21st studio album.

And it’s a sound that suits the old school melodic rockers.

If their mid 80s vibe was closer to Richard Marx than Iron Maiden, then The Serpent Rings is the Brummie band’s heavy rock underbelly rumbling hard.

The beast has awoken with songwriter-in-chief Tony Clarkin taking no prisoners on Magnum’s mightiest body of work for decades.

Previous long player Lost On The Road To Eternity found itself inside the top 15 of the UK album charts.

And it would have been easy – almost sensible – for Clarkin, Bob Catley and co. to repeat the trick two years down the line.

But Magnum have never taken the easy route. 

And The Serpent Rings is a brave and bullish response to creative freedom and a sense of unwavering confidence.

New recruit Dennis Ward joins drummer Lee Morris in pacing a record that relies on a punchy, relentless rhythm.

And Catley is forced to dig deep in order to deliver the vocal intensity required to realise Clarkin’s uncompromising vision.

But the wily old veterans pull it off in reassuringly effortless style.

You Can’t Run Faster Than Bullets is furious in its energy. And if the meandering title track leans on an immersive orchestral arrangement then it’s no less powerful.

Madman Or Messiah boasts lyrical muscle and musical clout: Clarkin choosing his words carefully and his riffs without limits.

The Serpent Rings and Magnum answers. In uncompromising, unpredictable and unrelenting fashion.