Great Metal Albums of 1988: Magnum- Wings of Heaven

Over the past few days, I have been asking myself, “Could Magnum be the best British band not to have cracked America?” Listening to the “Wings of Heaven” album, I am beginning to think that the answer is “Yes.” It broke the top twenty album charts in several countries, including hitting number five in the UK and two in Sweden. This album is packed full of some great melodic metal tunes, starting with “Days of No Trust.” While it doesn’t blow your mind to pieces with power chords, it eases you in nice and steady and before you know it, you’re singing along to it. All the band contributes equally on the song and it makes it that much better. It’s not meant to be depressing or negative but it is about the world going to shit while no one does anything about it.

“Wild Swan” is sort of a continuation of the theme set down by “Days of No Trust.” However, it’s done to some heavier power chords and a thudding bass line. Tony Clarkin got the idea for writing the song when he saw some birds still alive and continuing to fly with a crossbow bolt through them. It suggest a search for safety and halfway through the track, you get treated to a mice melodic musical interlude.

Although “Start Talkin’ Love” was released as a single, I don’t think it ever charted. However, it did appear on a metal compilation album a year later and I know it better from that. A song about being separated from one’s true love, it’s done in near ballad form and I really love the guitar hook on this one. “One Step Away” very much reminds me of their title track from their previous album, “Vigilante,” in the musical sense. Tony does rip a cool guitar solo though.

Magnum take the opposite view on male-female relationships on “It Must Have Been Love.” Here, they try to see things from the woman’s point of view. Most songs written from the male point of view take the line of the man hurt by the evil woman so full marks to the band for this attempts. It’s a nice power ballad even if it does sound pretty close to Survivor. The bass line stamps its authority on the song and the backing vocals are very good. Plus, it wouldn’t be a power ballad without a guitar solo.

Inspiration for “Different Worlds” came while on vacation in Southern France. The band went to Nice for a day and after spending most of it in the markets buying a lot of unnecessary items, they turned down a narrow street and saw people lying in the streets with bottles in their hands. Seeing these complete opposites had an effect on the band. Nevertheless, the power chords and the lead guitar intro make this the hidden gem on the album. The keyboards lead the song but with great support from the guitar’s power chords.

Penultimate track, “Pray for the Day” comes in rock like but then goes ballad like and then picks up pace at the choruses. The inspiration for this one came from several knock on effects. First, while visiting Austria, Tony saw a bunch of churches with iron crosses with black gauze. This trigged memories of the Berlin Wall where black crosses were painted in places people were shot and killed trying to escape and a further knock on effect, it triggered memories of a TV programme where a boy was caught in barbed wire and slowly died.

There was no better closer for “Wings of Heaven” than the ten minute progressive jam, “Don’t Wake the Lion, (Too Old to Die Young.)” It’s about World War One” but it’s definitely an anti-war song, pointing out the futility of war. Around the three minute mark, there is an eerie guitar like backed up by a heavy bass drum beat. If anything, this closer shows the versatility of the band.

Track Listing:

  1. Days of No Trust
  2. Wild Swan
  3. Start Talkin’ Love
  4. One Step Away
  5. It Must Be Love
  6. Different Worlds
  7. Pray for the Day
  8. Don’t Wake the Lion (Too Old to Die Young)


Bob Catley- vocals

Tony Clarkin- guitar

Wally Lowe- bass

Mark Stanway- keyboards

Mickey Barker- drums

Question: Do any of my American readers know of Magnum? I think if marketed properly over there, they would have gone down big. “Wings of Heaven” is proof.

Next post: Hopefully tomorrow night I will be going to Gloucester to see Thin Lizzy tribute band, Limehouse Lizzy. If so, you will get the full experience.

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12 Responses to “Great Metal Albums of 1988: Magnum- Wings of Heaven”

  1. Good write up of a really good LP,

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Glad to see you’ve posted this album and must say that the two best songs are Start Talking Love and Days of No Trust that you can easily imagine the likes of Heart,Pat Benatar,Loverboy,Night Ranger,Robin Beck,Scandal,Patty Smyth and Bonnie Tyler singing and that Magnum can/could be compared to the aforementioned artists?

    Liked by 1 person

  3. No, don’t know them…only by name. We know Magnum P.I. and they are no Tom Selleck, hell they don’t even have a Ferrari.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Going to see a tribute band when in these parts there is a triple header with Dare, FM and Cherie Curie?

    Liked by 1 person

    • My decision to go was last minute and I didn’t know these bands were playing anywhere near me. They didn’t advertise while the gig for the tribute band was all over the net.


  5. I’ve seen their name around but I think it was from articles and ads from their 2000’s stuff, I don’t think I ever heard their name in the 80’s or 90’s. Sounds like some pretty cool stuff.

    Liked by 1 person

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