Magnum is one of those rare consistent bands these days – conssitent in recording a new album every other year, and consistent in delivering something that fans will easily like, always full of a mixed bag of good songs. “The Serpent Rings” features 11 newly penned tracks from guitarist/songwriter Tony Clarkin, in the usual variety of Magnum pomp, pop, prog and hard rock. On the band’s previous album (Lost On The Road To Eternity), I thought the keyboards were lacking in some songs (in the mix) with then-new keyboard player Rick Benton, but keyboards are well in the mix of every song here, making for a bigger production and classic Magnum sound throughout. “Where Are You Eden?” is the first track and it’s easily the stand-out for me upon first listen, classic Magnum upbeat beginning, slightly reminiscent of “Live Til You Die”, from Escape From Shadow Garden (and yes – it mentions shadows!). Getting more in to this album the band seems to have picked up on more impressive and adventurous productions [see the previous album’s title track], with songs like “House Of Kings” – a real rocker with a few surprises, “Crimson Of The White Sand”, “The Great Unknown”, “The Archway Of Tears” and “The Serpent Rings”. Also digging more rocking tracks like “You Can’t Run Faster Than Bullets” and the first single “Not Forgiven”.
One thing that is always impressive about Magnum albums is that there is so many good songs, so many changes from song to song and within each song – that you never get too used to the album anytime soon, and can pick up on a different favorite track many listens down the road. *Clarkin, singer Bob Catley, Benton and drummer Lee Morris are joined by new bass player Dennis Ward (ex Pink Cream 69 and Place Vendome). Available on CD and 2 LP ! Fantastic Rodney Matthews cover art as well.