Magnum - Chase The Dragon
Jet Records
Progressive Rock
8 songs (35'19)
Release year: 1982
Reviewed by Ben
Archive review
Magnum are a phenomenally talented prog rock / melodic rock outfit that have been around since the late seventies. There were two catalysts which led me to check out this band, one being Chris and his glowing reviews of Wings Of Heaven and On A Storytellers’ Night, and the other being singer Bob Catley‘s involvement with Tobias Sammet and Avantasia. However hallowed these albums are that Chris reviewed (and yes they are eternally essential) there is at least one more grand statement by this hard caliber act. That statement is Chase The Dragon, a delicious helping of high quality British progressive rock.

Magnum is the creation of guitarist Tony Clarkin. The dude writes every lyric and every song. This band is basically a vehicle for Tony’s thoughts and creativity. One of the best creative weapons that he has other than the power of his imagination is his friend and singer Bob Catley. Bob has a terrific, rich, full voice that carries emotion as easily one would carry themselves after kicking ass and chewing bubble gum, which is to say with confidence and charisma. I believe that Chase The Dragon is keyboardist Mark Stanway’s introduction into the band. He would go on to be a long running member with Tony and Bob and to say that his playing and creative spark would not influence the band on their soon to be masterpieces would be ludicrous.

There are three distinct phases to Magnum. There is their early days which consist of the first four releases, the glorious melodic rocking years of Storyteller’s Night, Vigilante, and Wings Of Heaven, and then there are the more laid back years that rounded out the nineties with Goodnight L.A. and Sleepwalking. Chase The Dragon is the brightest and most realized album of their early years. The out and out Styx worship of the first two albums is gone and Magnum finally come into their own.

I came to find Chase The Dragon late into my discovery of the band so what surprised me the most when I popped this in is the heaviness of the album. Keep in mind, I came into the band through their slick commercial numbers, Just Like An Arrow, Lonely Night, and Days Of No Trust. Monsters and classics in their own right, they are much more slick than the beast that opens the first side of the album, Soldier Of The Line. This is driving, pounding, heavy metal! Majestic keyboards that add a bit o flair, crunchy Marshall stacked guitars that crackle with raw overdrive and minimum pedal abuse, and haunting gritty melodies by Mr. Catley turn this anti war song into a blood boiling rabble rouser. With On The Edge Of The World the atmosphere lightens slightly for a bluesy up beat track. I am really fond of this particular song. More often than not it gets overlooked because it has to contend with no less than three perennial Magnum classics. I already raved about Soldier Of The Line, so the other two tracks that are all live staples twenty five years later are The Spirit and Sacred Hour. Edguy covered The Spirit back in 2005 for their Superheroes EP. I remember liking it. But man, it doesn’t come close to the ass kicking pedigree that this song really is. There is folky acoustically driven verses and come chorus time it’s wickedly placed, crushing chords. Near the end there’s a monster blues solo that makes me drop a load. Mark Stanway ivory tickler / keyboardist finally lets loose on Sacred Hour. This is half somber, half rocker, kind of in the vein of a more manly Queen meets Rush way. A ton of keyboard effects are all over the place and there’s a bunch of multi tracked choirs too.

Chase The Dragon is one of Magnum’s best albums. There is not one filler song to be found, every track is it’s own unique and exciting entity.. Criminally underrated, and murderously potent, Magnum is very much deserving of your attention.

Killing Songs :
Soldier Of The Line, The Spirit, We All Play The Game, Sacred Hour
Ben quoted 90 / 100
Other albums by Magnum that we have reviewed:
Magnum - The Serpent Rings reviewed by Goat and quoted 76 / 100
Magnum - The Eleventh Hour! reviewed by Ben and quoted 81 / 100
Magnum - On A Storyteller's Night reviewed by Chris and quoted CLASSIC
Magnum - Alice And The Broken Arrow reviewed by Chris and quoted 93 / 100
Magnum - Brand New Morning reviewed by Marty and quoted 90 / 100
To see all 7 reviews click here
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