Released: 2008, Frontiers Records
Bob Catley has been in the music game for a long time – since the early 1970’s. While he’s spent most of his career with venerable British hard rockers Magnum, he has also branched out for the occasional solo album over the years. In fact, these solo discs have become highly anticipated events from his fans, as they are all consistently some of the best pieces of music released in their year. Therefore, 2008 should be no different, as Bob releases his seventh solo album – IMMORTAL.
It’s been a couple of years since I last crossed paths with a Bob Catley solo album. The last one I heard was 2001’s MIDDLE EARTH masterpiece – an album that I revere and play constantly to this day. Obviously I had high expectations of IMMORTAL. The thing about Catley, he’s not much of a writer, so he usually relies on outside writers to provide the material for his distinctive voice. In the past he’s worked extensively with Ten’s Gary Hughes, but for IMMORTAL, he enlisted Swedish keyboard player Magnus Karlsson (Primal Fear, Last Tribe, Allen/Lande) for writing duties. This method can be dangerous, but thankfully Karlsson brought his A+ writing pen to the table. “Dreamers Unite” sets the tone immediately, being a proggy but driving rocker, that’s heavier than anything heard on MIDDLE EARTH. I had heard that Catley took a turn for the heavier with 2003’3 WHEN EMPIRES BURN, and it sounds like that’s true!
The rest of the album follows the same type of format, being heavy hard rock (not quite metal), focus squarely on the guitars but with strong keyboard work as well. Of course, Catley’s storyteller’s voice rings out over top of it all, as strong as ever. Faves would have to be the thumping “War In Heaven”, and the relatively speedy “One More Night”, along with the aforementioned “Dreamers Unite”. But really, picking favourites is impossible as each song practically forces you to pay attention and sing along with reckless abandon.
IMMORTAL may just be another Bob Catley solo album, but it sets a bar that few other bands can match. This is easily one of the strongest albums of 2008.