Bob Catley - Immortal
If there ever was an album that deserved the term "majestic", it would certainly be this one. Taking us back to the bardic medieval atmosphere of Magnum's "On A Storyteller's Night" and lavishly exploring this epic overall feeling, "Immortal" allows you free reign into a dangerous fantasy world of myth and magic, wonder and intrigue.

Catley's voice is like that of a mysterious storyteller, the fires burn brightly and then simmer down to crackling embers as the sweeping songs spiral to highs and hushed lows. It is a treat to hear him so invigorated and wrapped up in the project. Magnus Karlsson has brought us an album that is a sleek, a tightly written contender and challenge to past Magnum and Catley works. This is something that the previous Vince O'Regan helmed disc lacked sorely. "Spirit of Man" was not a bad album by any means, but it lacked spirit and that touch of the fantastical, a key ingredient to Catley's solo success.  This was a key that Gary Hughes realized and turned without reservation on the trilogy of discs he crafted for Catley.  Paul Hodson siezed the keys to the Catley kingdom and brought his own similar magic to the round table on "When Empires Burn". After a flounderingly average "Spirit" it was not sure what direction Catley would go in. He has been known as the voice of wonder for so long, and "Spirit" was bereft of that. When it was announced that Karlsson (Starbreaker, Allen Lande, Tony O'Hora - many others) would be penning "Immortal", it was as if someone had handed the perfect solution to the Catley conundrum on a silver platter. Everything Magnus touches turns to gold. "Immortal" does not stray from this expected path to near perfection.

Karlsson understands what makes Catley flourish, and has created songs that allow for the imagination to run wild and the freedom to feel a giddy sense of celebration. It's like being invited back fireside to that tavern abandoned long ago after that "Storyteller's Night" but the bard who returns to sing his tales has even more experience behind him, and pushes his voice to it's very boundaries. "Haunted" in its darkness, and the heart catching "End of the World" being two exceptional pieces that showcase his return to form, and his passion for reaching beyond the expected. Dennis Ward produced the disc, giving it a slick, deep sound that resonates nicely on higher end equipment. There is a good balance between speakers and treble and bass, neither feeling too tinny or rumbling inappropriately. Drummer Dirk Bruienberg (Elegy) handles the drums and Uwe Reitenauer is the guitarist that is mimicking the riff works of Magnus, who only plays lead on the one song "End of the World". Reitenauer commendably blazes through the material like a ghost of Karlsson. His writing stamps can be heard in every exalted bridge, and temple pounding chorus.

The disc unfurls with the instantly infectious "Dreamers Unite", a showcase for thundering rhythms, a powerful chorus and a rhythm riff that has the melodic sensibilities and razor sharp trademark of Karlsson all over it. "We Are Immortal" begins as a simmering ominous epic, the piano runs are imaginative and brilliant in their simplicity (and reminiscent of the main theme from video game Final Fantasy). Then Catley flows into the music, giving words and shaping the sonic landscape around him. Catchy riffs abound, and the story opens wide, punctuated by a magnificent chorus.

 "End of the World" builds on the two previous offerings, and plays the epic card with crafty finesse, thundering forward with the awe striking vision of warhorses shining brave in the heat of battle and starkness of the sun. Synthesizers build suspense, guitars weave their electric magic and Catley flows through it all effortlessly, a radiant presence. It is wholly a Karlsson creation, and leaves one in wonder at his seemingly unending well of inspiration. His guitar solo takes away your breath and imprints his fretwork upon your soul. Such fierce joy, such compelling persuasion. Absolutely smashing. "Are you ready to leave, leave your nightmares behind?"

"Open Your Eyes" is a melodic rock breather, very much a fey child of 80s Magnum and Bobcat's solo "When Empires Burn". Synthesizers forming a strong backbone, along with those remarkably addictive guitar rhythms, the result is an instant flash of delight. "The Searcher" is thrillingly melodic, spectacular in execution. The chorus is absolutely beautiful, sweeping in its sense of melody and a drop of sorrow to give emotional flavor. "One More Night" is a passionate plea accented in deliriously heavy pulsing guitars.

"Light Up My Way" is pure Karlsson, and made magic with that Catley vocal. His signature searingly sweet rhythm guitars pierce the heart and the epic unleashing of the song, showing us glimpses and building on the bit that came just before.

"You Are My Star" has those grounding riffs, but sparkling keys and gorgeous vocals make it something special. There's a over arching feel of commitment here and that romantic notion of all consuming, all comforting, soul sheltering - true love. "War In Heaven" breaks the conventional melodic molds and serves up a deliciously robust track that is somewhere between majestic hard rock and a glimmering shine of metallic brilliance blinding. An uplifting chorus, clever use of strings for impact and a soaring, almost euphoric feel give the listener a glimpse of the sky realms and the war that wages beyond life's very bounds.

The harsh thickness and storyteller woven lyrics returns in "Win the Throne", a story of a soldier seeking victory, visions and battles that loom on into the fading horizon. Guitars crash amongst the shores, like angry waves battering their liquid vengeance against the shores. A quiet lull of reflection leads into a guitar solo and then swiftly takes up arms for the song to charge forward again.

"Haunted" is another beast altogether, and one that shows another side to Bob's vocals, which transform from that of the expressive kindly bard spinning his tales to a voice that embraces venom just as easily. It's delightfully dark and tormentingly twisting, a flash of Starbreaker here, and a creeping feeling of darkness that shades the song in deep lifeblood red, the suggested color of wounded souls and a slaughter unpreventable and unbreachable by spoken tokens of magic. Hope teeters on the edge of the blade. Rhythm section pounds for emphasis during the chorus and the freedom offering of "Fly away if you dare..." is both a threat and a command. The chorus pops out like magic, and the entire song is just this wonderfully composed, tightly wound piece that is brilliantly constructed, performed and produced.

Bursting the bubble of "Haunted" darkness is the one true ballad of the album, "Heat of Passion", that shimmers with everything the title suggests. It's oftentimes sparse, instruments keeping the mood while the vocals betray the heart of emotion. Lovely piano, a building bridge that pulls away from the fragile verses into a chorus that is pure passion, guitars echoing the sentiments. A magnificent way to close the epic "Immortal".

"Immortal" is Bob Catley's sixth solo album and is perhaps his finest hour. As shockingly terrific "The Tower" was ten years ago, and the surprise of "When Empires Burn" when his career was left in question after the departure of Hughes as his creative core - "Immortal" may just dethrone them both. The songs are unsurprisingly tight and composed with Catley completely in mind. These are no leftovers handed over for a halfhearted solo disc, these are tracks that were given thought, care and melded into finely honed weapons that showcase the grandness of Catley's vocals and Karlsson's passion for memorable melodies. It's not perfect, but is very close to claiming such a title. Whether you are a fan of Bob or Magnus or not, "Immortal" is a must-have heavy melodic masterpiece and one of the highlights for 2008.

Written by Alanna
Friday, September 26, 2008
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Alanna: 9/10

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RevelationZ Comments

Comment by gizmo (Member) - Friday, September 26, 2008
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Comments: 140
Ratings: 4
Can´t wait to hear it. Catleys solo stuff is better than the stuff Magnum did the last 10 years.

His voice is one of the greatest ever, and if this stuff comes just a little close to Storyteller´s night it would be incredible i have long waited for an album close to that one.

Posted by gizmo
Friday, September 26, 2008

Comment by Alanna (Staff) - Sunday, September 28, 2008
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Comments: 245
I wouldn't say the album is close to the entirety of "Storyteller's Night". It had some incredible pop-type tracks that were just oozing with melody. This album doesn't really have anything quite that infectious. However, many songs come close to the vibe and feel of the "Storyteller's Night" song itself. And Karlsson obviously had been studying "The Tower" and "When Empires Burn" because "Immortal" is much more a continuation of those albums than "Spirit of Man" was. All four of these written by different people I will add.

If you like Catley's other material you'll like this very much. It doesn't bother with trying to be modern, like current Magnum, and I think that's a good thing in its favor.

Posted by Alanna (Staff)
Sunday, September 28, 2008

Comment by gizmo (Member) - Sunday, September 28, 2008
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Comments: 140
Ratings: 4
The tower were Catleys to date best solo album so you have not made my expectations any less :0)

Posted by gizmo
Sunday, September 28, 2008

Comment by Little Drummer Boy (Member) - Saturday, November 22, 2008
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Comments: 166
Ratings: 46
Your review is quite accurate and it is a masterpiece. When I first pick this up I did not know who was doing the penning for it. Then I slapped it in the Car CD player I was surprised when I heard the Karlsson trademarks all over the first track. But is was not his guitar playing or so I thought. So I listened on and it was bugging me so of course I am driving along and pulling out the sleeve so I can find the writing credits (not exactly safe...but I had to know). After listening to the CD I have to say this is not a Catley release. It is another Magnus release. I also think that Denis Ward (production and mixing) and Magnus make for an excellent team, not to mention having Ward handling the bulk of the axe duties was an interesting move.

Magnus has constantly known how to ensure the vocalist shines never making the music over indulgent and pompous. He puts the stories to be told first and then scores the instrumental passages to add emphasis as we think about the messages being told.

Magnus has become one of my personal favorite writers in the industry. His songs are almost always accessible to the listener and I am never left feeling overwhelmed by convoluted pompous technical flash that so many other writers tend to fall victim to.

Posted by Little Drummer Boy
Saturday, November 22, 2008

Review by Craig (Member) - Friday, January 15, 2010
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Comments: 134
Ratings: 29

Rating: 8.5/10

Posted by Craig
Friday, January 15, 2010

Review by Modulator (Member) - Friday, January 9, 2009
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Comments: 15
Ratings: 19
This cd was big positive suprise for me.

Rating: 9.5/10

Posted by Modulator
Friday, January 9, 2009

Review by Tommy (Member) - Saturday, March 14, 2009
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Comments: 74
Ratings: 31
Ultra solid with a tough edge.

Rating: 8/10

Posted by Tommy
Saturday, March 14, 2009

Review by Alanna

Released by
Frontiers - 2008

1. Dreamers Unite
2. We Are Immortal
3. End Of The World
4. Open Your Eyes
5. The Searcher
6. One More Night
7. Light Up My Way
8. You Are My Star
9. War In Heaven
10. Win The Throne
11. Haunted
12. Heat Of Passion

Supplied by Zink

Melodic hard rock

Related links
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Bob Catley - Official Website

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When Empires burn - (Steen)

Middle Earth - (Steen)

Spirit of Man - (Alanna)

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