THUNDER – THE MAGNIFICENT SEVENTH (REVIEW)

Formed in 1989, from the ashes of the pop rock combo Terraplane, Thunder went on a hugely succesful run in Europe and Japan on the back of the albums “Backstreet Symphony“, “Laughing On Judgement Day” and “Behind Closed Doors” in addition to these albums the band had excellent b-sides for singles with “No Way Out The Wildnerness” still being one of my favourite hard rock tracks ever. But then for some reason they changed, out went the traditional English hard rock values to be replaced with more experimental pop overtones that always seemed forced to these ears, also we said goodbye to the rock clothes to be replaced by designer gear which did not suit the music and only served to alienate fans including myself.  So its with some relief that the last year or so have seen Thunder return and seemingly rediscovered what made them great in the first place.  “The Magnificent Seventh” sees the return of the classic English hard rock sound that is home to strong melodies, great hooks and good riffs. 

Opener “I Love You More Than Rock N Roll” is typical Thunder fare and despite a good midsection only hints at the quality displayed elsewhere. However the Rolling Stones good time feel on the chorus will be sure to win more than few fans in the live arena.

“The Gods Of Love” really sees the album get started with a psychadelic intro before blasting into prime Thunder territory with its irresistible chorus which sees Danny Bowes’ voice in fine fettle. Luke Morley and Ben Matthews are riffing with their distinctive trademark guitar tones and the old magic is well and truly alive here.

The eastern tint on the riff of “Monkey See, Monkey D”o hints at the Led Zeppelin influence in Luke Morley’s arsenal of tricks and could easily have come from 1995’s overlooked “Behind Closed Doors” album. The chorus is classic Thunder and again this will go down a storm in the live arena. The track is further enhanced thanks to the inclusion of deft orchestrated touches.

“I’m Dreaming Again” is a delicate track where the vocals of Danny Bowes tickles the senses and really allows the emotion in his voice to shine. The verse has a good quality before the chorus which will set the singles chart alive. The guitar solo here is also a nice addition to the emotional content on display elsewhere.

Top 40 is written all over “Amy’s On The Run” which is home to a quality only British rock bands can reproduce. The chorus and bridge here are superb and infectious and Morley’s guitar solo is the icing on the cake.

“The Pride” is home to a kickin riff from Morley and Ben Matthews that is again classic Thunder.  Bowes delivers a simple melody line for the verse but the chorus is another winner with his voice sounding as good as it ever has – arguably Britain’s best rock singer in the last 20 years.  Amidst the hard riffing there is a moment of melodic intent in the excellent first solo and breakdown before the Les Paul attack kicks back in for another meaner solo – a highlight.

“Fade Into The Sun” opens with a staccato figure not too disimilar to the Stones “Gimme Shelter” (which the band did a killer cover of btw), this then travels into a straigher rocking home with the emotional content high in Bowes vocals.  The second verse sees the straighter rocking sound built on and when it moves into the chorus its a defining moment of the album. Another good solo adds more value to the track before the a bridge takes the track to a new level before going back to the intro riff, another highlight of the album.

The musically mature “Together Or Apart” is home to some Free-ish overtones particularly on the verse, Bowes vocals ooze class again and this is another style in which Thunder excelled 10 years ago and proves they still have it.  The track builds extremely well throughout its 6 minute running length and I can see this track taking on the classic status of tracks such as” Higher Ground” and “Until My Dying Day”.

“You Can’t Keep A Good Man Down” is one of the goodtime rockers Thunder always seem to dish out, and its nothing overly special, the chorus is good but compared to some of the other material here it does come across as slightly weaker.

“One Foot In The Grave” begins with a bluesy railroad overtone before the electric guitars kick in and is sure to make this another winner on the live stage.  The solos are again very good – Morley has a distinctive style that is a mix of Joe Perry, Jimmy Page and Brian Robertson with an excellent melodic sense. 

Album closer “One Fatal Kiss” is another of the bands classic rockers, the verse is stronger than the chorus (the backing vocals are a little annoying) but generally its another of the weaker tracks on offer but by no means a poor way to end the album.

“The Magnificent Seventh” sees Thunder return in fine style and indeed picking up the baton from where they left on in 1995 with “Behind Closed Doors”.  The music sounds honest again and indeed Bowes vocals are more at ease in this format – and excel.  Luke Morley shows what a class act he is whilst the rhythm section of Chris Childs (bass) and Harry James (drums) create a very solid foundation that allows the track to take the listeners attention.  They provide exactly whats needed in a Hard Rock context and allows Bowes, Morley and Matthews to really get the songs out there.    There is a lot of very good material here and with a bit of luck Frontiers will get some singles out there as well as give a good touring budget.  With a bit of luck I hope to see them at a venue near me soon.
 
Hot Spots : Monkey See Monkey Do, The Pride, Fade Into The Sun, Together Or Apart.
Rating : 92.0%

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