Following the release of their ‘Princess Alice & The Broken Arrow’ album in 2007, Magnum settled into a vein of huge, sometimes bombastic melodic rock that carried a little more of a European flavour than the sounds of their eighties peak. The songs became bigger, longer, even more narrative, and although the hooks weren’t always as immediate as the best parts of the beloved ‘On A Storyteller’s Night’ or ‘Vigilante’, at their heart, there was always something “distinctively Magnum”. Obviously, this had much to do with Tony Clarkin’s song writing, having written the lion’s share of everything since the 70s, but Bob Catley’s friendly vocal presence could never be undervalued. Over the years, other band members came and went – each one bringing something great and different to the Magnum sound – but it was often the work of these two creative friends that kept the heart of the band pumping, much to the delight of fans.
Best known as the singer with melodic hard rockers XYZ, Terry Ilous is blessed with a fantastic set of vocal pipes. His recorded output mightn’t be as extensive as many of his peers, but you can usually rely on him for a great album. The Bridger release from 2012 is the only possible exception to this rule, and even then, that was no fault of Terry’s; he often did his best with the largely unremarkable material, even if he sometimes sounded understated compared to his former self.
They may not be the biggest name on the rock scene, but Scattered Hamlet have been making some very chunky (and very retro) sounds for a decade. The US band mix classic hard rock, swampy attitude and big hooks to create something that sounds occasionally like a blend of the lighter end of Zakk Wylde meeting with the more melodic strains of Corrosion of Conformity or, perhaps, a throwback to the days of Roadsaw colliding with a classic rock sound.
The End Machine’s 2019 debut for Frontiers Records presented almost an hour’s worth of classic sounding hard rock. Its sound was exactly as you’d expect from a couple of musicians associated with Dokken and the ex-vocalist from Lynch Mob. It’s higher octane tracks gave George Lynch every opportunity to hammer his fretboard, while the darker and slower workouts put bassist Jeff Pilson squarely in the spotlight. Most importantly, a lot of the numbers wielded huge choruses to great effect, often giving vocalist Robert Mason (ex-Cry of Love/Warrant) plenty to work with. In terms of melodic metal, it was a great disc – certainly much better than Dokken had managed in a few years.
For Australian rockers The Mercy Kills, there has to be a sense of relief in finally seeing ‘New Rule’ gain a full release. Recorded back in 2010, the EP reached promo stage – a few copies were even handed out at gigs – and then got cancelled. The material then spent the next ten years sitting in someone’s personal archive, always hinting at what could have been.
After finally seeing the light of day via Golden Robot Records (home to Michael des Barres and one incarnation of LA Guns) in 2021, it’s clear that it wasn’t an obvious lack of quality that caused the plug to be pulled prematurely way back when. The five tracks that make up ‘New Rule’ are a little rough vocally speaking, but by and large, are very good: there’s enough of a hard rock edge to please fans of an 80s rock style and there’s even a slightly sleazy undertone that suggests a love of glam. There are also several flashbacks to a more alternative 90s ensuring everything never sounds like a bad 80s throwback. Most importantly, some really fat basslines often give the material a fair amount of muscle. For a DIY release, ‘New Rule’ had – and still has – a fair amount in its favour.