The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world

The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world
MAGNUM ESCAPE FROM THE SHADOW GARDEN REVIEW 2014

 

MAGNUM

ESCAPE FROM THE SHADOW GARDEN

STEAMHAMMER/SPV

MARCH 24 2014

 

 

 

Magnum is a band that has seen many bands, fads and genres come and go. Formed in 1972 it’s stunning to think that in 2014 they are making some of the music of their lives.

 

Many of course will know the band from old, whether it was the more progressive, indulgent band of the seventies, or the constantly charting melodic rockers of the eighties and early nineties. Some of course will only know them since their rebirth in 2001 when the band reconvened after almost 7 years.

 

Magnum of course has always been Clarkin and Catley at the core, the guitar and songs of Clarkin and that golden, instantly recognisable voice of Catley. A dozen years now since they’ve been back ‘Escape From the Shadow Garden’ may just be one of their very best albums, if not their best.

 

Starting off with the power of epic ‘Live Till You Die’ Magnum’s 18th studio platter starts off strongly with a sure fire Melodic Rocker and while the album at times lets up the pace, it never lets up the quality or intensity. The low-key keyboard opening to ‘Unwritten Sacrifice’ heralds the first of a few slower numbers here. It’s a song that builds quickly on a chugging riff and demands fist-pumping action.

 

‘Falling For the Big Plan’ again starts slowly and it’s another lengthy number with a real modern kick to the melody, but it also has progressive leanings and a wonderful breakdown and solo by Clarkin. It’s strangely the sort of song you can also imagine dancing to! Just classic Hard Rock from the days before ‘genre’ existed.

 

‘Crying in the Rain’ is a quite direct rocker with some great Catley vocals driving through the sparse opening, it’s classic Magnum, and the following track ‘Too Many Clowns’ which takes a swipe at politicians, is a fully charged rocker too. With that burst of energy (both are great songs) comes the bluesier ‘Midnight Angel’ – one of our standouts, a sad tale of the demise of the title character: it’s a great story- driven song, one that Catley plays beautifully while the tale glides over the music: a great beat set up by solid drums and bass with some wonderful guitar and keys. It’s as we said one of our favourites here, even if it’s not the best representation of the album as a whole.

 

If you need a ‘big’ tune after that ‘The Art of Compromise’ is huge and another standout, this time dealing with human relationships, it sweeps you up and washes you away.  ‘Don’t Fall Asleep’ takes it all down a few notches to blossom into a Pro-flavoured epic ballad more akin to the band of old.  

 

And if you thought you’d heard the best, the album closes out just as strongly with ‘Wisdom’s Had Its Day’ perhaps Catley’s best work here on another slow-burning number. As a complete contrast ‘Burning River’ is hard and heady; while closer ‘The Valley of Tears’ is a huge epic soaring ballad that tops those that came before: it’s another of the real highpoints on a remarkable album.

 

This may not be Magnum’s best album; and to be honest for bands of a certain age where past glories are mixed with fans own personal memories it’s always hard to top the emotions invested in back-catalogue gems; but it is their most consistent. I personally love it and while it may not quite eclipse the feelings I have for ‘Storyteller’ and ‘Wings…’ it’s a close third and certainly the best of their second period. If you miss this you’ll kick yourself.

 

CHECK OUT OUR INTERVIEW WITH BOB CATLEY ABOUT THE ALBUM HERE…  

 

 

by Mark Diggins

 

MAGNUM ESCAPE FROM THE SHADOW GARDEN REVIEW 2014