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Escape From The Shadow Garden
October 2014
Released: 2014, SPV
Rating: 3.5/5
Reviewer: JP

I really enjoy when a band takes the time and energy to develop a signature sound and style and then have the courage to stick to that initial vision. Magnum is one of those bands. There are fans who only seek originality and progression but I am not one of those fans. I want Magnum’s new album ESCAPE FROM THE SHADOW GARDEN to have the classic Magnum logo. It does. I want the cover art to be another wild creation by long-time artist, Rodney Matthews. It is. The line-up is stable, Bob Catley is still singing, the band is stable on the SPV label and climbing the charts higher and higher with each successive album, all is well in Magnum world.

The hour-long album has 13 cuts and all the songs are in the 5-7 minute range. They don’t get too extensive in terms of stretching out songs preferring to allow the simpler compositions to succeed on strong riffs and solid musical ideas. There are few more up-tempo rockers such as the lead off song ‘Live ‘Til You Die’ and ‘Midnight Angel’ which is perhaps the sister song of ‘Wild Angels’ from THE VISITATION. Elsewhere the mellow and almost dreamlike song ‘Don’t Fall Asleep’ add diversity and simplicity to the album. Catley is still a very song vocalist and he puts in quite a gruff performance on ‘Burning River’. Many of the songs have acoustic piano and strong elements of orchestration that flow through the songs but do not overwhelm the progressive rock. The orchestration is quite subdued and tasteful and not at all bombastic or overwrought. The song writing could use a bit more originality in some aspects. For example, five of the 11 songs start with a slow acoustic piano introduction, they could mix it up a bit.

I reviewed the comeback album, BREATH OF LIFE on this site back in 2002 and I didn’t go easy on it. However, since 2007, Magnum have really recaptured their early (late 70’s, early 80’s) sound and feel again with five excellent records in a row. The band is slowly and methodically building a catalogue of remarkable depth and quality and ESCAPE FROM THE SHADOW GARDEN is as good as anything the have created in the past decade.
Track Listing

1. Live 'Til You Die
2. Unwritten Sacrifice
3. Falling for the Big Plan
4. Crying in the Rain
5. Too Many Clowns
6. Midnight Angel
7. The Art of Compromise
8. Don't Fall Asleep
9. Wisdom's Had Its Day
10. Burning River
11. The Valley of Tears


Tony Clarkin — guitar
Bob Catley — vocals
Al Barrow — bass guitar
Mark Stanway — keyboards
Harry James — drums

Next review: » Magnum - Into The Valley Of The Moonking
Previous review: » Magnum - Breath of Life

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