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  MAGNUM
'Escape From The Shadow Garden'
(SPV)
UK Release Date: March 24th 2014


Roger Berzerk Fauske

Roger Berzerk Fauske

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So here we are again, less than eighteen months since Magnum released the acclaimed 'On The Thirteenth Day' and they are at it again.

It took all of a month between the last release and all round genius and guitarist Tony Clarkin starting work on this one.

I really don't think I need to go into the background of this band, but for those of you that have just arrived via interstellar craft, this is their 16th studio album since their 1978 debut 'Kingdom Of Madness'. Personally I first saw them live way back in 1982, strangeley on a school trip – I still don't know to this day exactly how we persuaded them it was of educational value – and now in my 50th year (yes, I'm quite surprised I got this far as well), they have been a huge part of my musical life. They are one of those bands that I just hope deep down I will never hear a below par album from, even more than normal.

So what has Mr Clarkin and the rest of the band come up with this time?

Article continues below...

 
 


Well, the good news is that those of you who feel the same as me have absolutely nothing to worry about. The first thing that hits you is the sheer melodic quality of the songs – even on first listen there are so many of them that get you deep down, melodies that just burrow into your soul and your head simultaneously. It's all in the songwriting you know, a simple fact yet one that escapes so many.

Tony Clarkin, as I discovered when I interviewed him in the studio last year, remains as modest as ever about his songwriting abilities but as well as being one of the most prodigious he is also one of the best. Clarkin's lyrics have always been a cut above your average rock lyrics but with this one, he has taken things to another level again.

I found myself almost ignoring the music at times to make sure I got every word and I guarantee you will do the same.

Social conscience, death and destiny are not exactly new lyrical subjects, but these are done so well, and put across with such feeling both lyrically and by Bob Catley's supreme delivery. More about his vocals later, but whilst his voice may not be as pure as it once was, the feeling and passion he portrays more than make up for it.

As for the others, Al Barrow and Harry James are about as good as you get for a rhythm section and ivory tinkler Mark Stanway brings so much feeling with his intros as well as his depth of sound.

So to the music... Magnum have gone through changes, so many changes, over the years. To my ears they have adapted again. Whilst this is still very much the Magnum sound, it is fuller (some of that is down to the very impressive production) and as I have mentioned already, melodically it has gone stratospheric.

There are more than enough rock riffs to keep everyone happy and as well as his songwriting, Clarkin shows what a damn fine guitarist he is as well. Whilst that is not exactly news, sometimes his playing was almost understated.

First off on the album is 'Live Till You Die'. I mentioned the Magnum sound, well this is pretty much as classic Magnum as you get.

Mark Stanway's keyboard intro starting things off beautifully, deep tones contrasting with some top end, before Tony Clarkin's guitar comes diving in, heavy riffs at the ready leading to the first we hear from Bob Catley. Naturally with the sands of time, his voice isnt maybe what it was but the thing with Bob is he always had such a unique tonal quality to his voice and that is still there in spades.

magnum

Vocals again sitting perfectly with guitar, keyboards doing a lot more than filling the space, creating their own space, delicate drifts layered behind the front two. This is pure Magnum, heavy, rocking with a dose of pomp thrown in. The mid section calms it down, fluttering keys, guitar and images of smoke on stage before Tony launches into a memorable solo, Al Barrow's bass and Harry James' drums in perfect unison belting out the rhythm, the sense of urgency. As opening tracks go, this one is a belter.

'Unwritten Sacrifice' is next up and again with a keyboard intro, more sombre than the uplifting start to the previous song. "How did he die, no one can recollect", gives you the feel of the song, Bob telling the story with passion and more than a little gravitas. The band have a way of still keeping the sorrowful feel to the song whilst going up tempo with it, not an easy thing to do and boy do they do it well. Musically the highlight is a top drawer chorus, melodies flying at you from all directions. This one has it all, melody and lyrics.

'Falling For The Big Plan' takes the tempo up just a notch. Keyboard beginnings, vocals and piano taking over in perfect harmony, before Harry and then the rest of the band come in. Another killer chorus and Tony again delivering an emotive piece of six string superbity.

'Crying In The Rain' comes up next and this isn't a musical description of what it's like for me and all the other hammers fans. What it is though is a musically very interesting and complex song. Almost taking you by surprise, throbbing bass and guitar kicks it all off, a very cool intro indeed touched by the funky.

Harry lets rip with the kit, Bob's vocals on top of it all getting the lyrics across with his usual intent. Melody again grabbing you, more harmonies than a hairspray salon, a great track. Feel wise, to me anyway, in parts at least it could almost have fitted on the 'Eleventh Hour' album, but the sound has been updated and is fresh. Inspiring stuff.

'Too Many Clowns' is in simple terms an out and out rocker. It may seem a strange thing to say given that I am talking about a band who have become almost an institution (coincidentally somewhere a few people have suggested I take up residence), but the band haven't done a great many songs of this type. Balls to the walls stuff, superb, and I mean superb, main riff, blues infused, powerful vocals, banging rhythm section, it's got it all. Your body will be a groovin' and a shakin' by the time this one is done.

'Midnight Angel' is without doubt an immense song. It is long, coming in at over seven minutes, but given what makes up the track it needs to be. It is multi layered and the track contains more than a few sections but they are fused together so well that you need to listen a lot more than once to notice them all.

If you ever want a masterclass in songwriting, this would probably be towards the top of the list. Simple yet inspiring guitar intro from Tony Clarkin, Mark Stanway proving you don't always need to go up and down the ivories to be effective, Bob Catley's voice powerful and filled with passion, Al Barrow and Harry James again doing what good rhythm sections do – those two are so tuned in with each other and the band that you almost take it for granted. And all that is just at the beginning. This really is about three songs in one, but beatifully crafted, tempo ebbing and flowing, an anthemic quality to the song.

The trouble with tracks like the last one is it can sometimes be difficult to follow up. So to 'The Art Of Compromise'. No such worries about that with this lot, a superb track in a totally different way. Melancholic piano intro, and for the first minute of the song just the piano with vocals on top.

For all the world it seems as if we are being treated to a well crafted yet more straightforward ballad, a tearjerker in the finest traditions. Yet three minutes later everything is more upbeat, hope springs eternal and the whole song has a different feel to it, music and lyrics uplifting to the soul. Musically the pre chorus rise stands out as well as the chorus once again being instantly memorable.

There is absolutely no chance of it, but the next track is titled 'Don't Fall Asleep'. If you were a little disappointed the last one didn't turn out to be a tearjerker, this may get you going. Piano and synth, soulful vocals, touching lyrics. This is a true ballad.

Nowadays that word can induce shuddering and cringeing, but this one is handled well, never even looking like it is going to descend into self righteous pity. "Don't fall asleep, that's where all dreams are born, until all the pages have been turned". A well played, well written song, it will get you going, the fitting end to the songs as Bob sings "now the pages have been turned".

'Wisdom's Had It's Day' has another piano based intro, this time with vocals kicking in immediately, soulful voice and great keyboard patterns on the chorus. Another well crafted song.

'Burning River' is another one that will have you moving, body swaying uncontrollably to the music. Not as heavy as 'Too Many Clowns', but still beefing things up. This one is more in the traditional Magnum vein, the type of track their audience laps up and who can blame them. Wonderfully done crunching riffs, forceful vocals, chorus driving along. Again the rhythm section is the driving force behind the tempo, keeping it all chugging along without ever taking it out of control.

'The Valley Of Tears' is the next and last track on the album. Lyrically strong, no surprise there then, talking about the struggles of life we all face and the seeming inevitability of it all, this will mean something to everyone.

Musically, another melancholy start with piano and the almost haunting voice of Bob Catley, string sounds and inspiring chorus. Another well written song, Mark Stanway's piano throughout the track standing out, especially as it takes on a more hopeful note. And Tony Clarkin's guitar finale just adds to the mood. A stirring way to end the album.

Getting away from the music briefly, I should mention before I go any further the album artwork, of course done once again by the vastly talented Rodney Matthews.

I think it is safe to say this album can very swiftly be added to Magnum's list of accomplishments and it may just be the best of them all. It is hard to compare albums from different periods in the band's existence but there is so much in this one, it is hard not to put it at least near the top of the list. Added to the music, the production team have done a fine job, something which isn't always the case.

Normally listening to an album for the first few times, it is fairly easy to know which tracks will become live staples but with this one I don't think there is a valid argument for discounting any of the fayre on offer. Fancy doing some four hour gigs guys?

Talking of which they are on tour here very soon indeed so I suggest you get off your backsides and get along to at least one, you will thank me.


beer beer beerbeerbeer


13.3.14





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"The UK has become like a second home to us over the past year or so, and we can't wait to come back! We've been working hard on new music for y'all..."

bonafide BONAFIDE ANNOUNCE EUROPEAN AND UK TOUR FOR FEBRUARY/MARCH 2015
With their new studio album 'Denim Devils', the Swedes are set for a spring and summer on the road...

toseland THREE MAJOR ANNOUNCEMENTS FROM TOSELAND
A new EP, A UK tour and a world record attempt - Toseland is starting 2015 with a bang...

attila ATTILA PREMIERE VIDEO FOR 'HATE ME'
In this hilarious and unforgettable video clip, Attila trade their microphones and instruments for handcuffs, nightsticks, and cop uniforms...

if all else fails ROCK STARS DEDICATE GET WELL SOON VIDEO TO MONTROSE MUSICIAN
A host of British and American Metal stars combine to wish their comrade Lewis Paton a speedy recovery...

download festival ANOTHER BATCH OF BANDS ADDED TO DOWNLOAD FESTIVAL BILL INCLUDING THUNDER AND EVIL SCARECROW
This year's Download Festival line-up is shaping up nicely with another 24 new acts added to the bill...

steak number eight STEAK NUMBER EIGHT TO EMBARK ON EUROPEAN TOUR WITH PRONG AND HARK
Belgium's post/sludge Metal act Steak Number Eight have announced the dates of their 2015 European tour...

beth hart BETH HART TO RELEASE NEW ALBUM 'BETTER THAN HOME' ON 13th APRIL 2015
Some artists choose to sing the blues and some artists find that they have to live them as well...

asomvel ASOMVEL ANNOUNCE UK TOUR FOR MARCH 2015
With the new line-up powering the band to bigger heights, Asomvel are heading out on tour...

dr living dead DR. LIVING DEAD! LAUNCH BRAND NEW VIDEO
'TEAMxDEADx' is an example of the quality Thrash Metal displayed on the upcoming third album...

mabel greers toyshop MABEL GREER'S TOYSHOP RELEASE NEW VIDEO FOOTAGE FOR 'ELECTRIC FUNERAL'
The band which grew into Yes have reunited and will release a new album in March...

paradise lost PARADISE LOST ANNOUNCE NEW ALBUM TITLE AND RELEASE DATE
"We have written a very dark, yet melodic album, but this time many songs definitely have a death Metal edge, which is something we haven't done for a long long time ..."

ensiferum ENSIFERUM ADD MORE EUROPEAN TOUR DATES
We're really looking forward to the new Ensiferum album, 'One Man Army', here at MetalTalk...

airbourne AIRBOURNE SIGN WITH SPINEFARM RECORDS
"We're pumped up to have signed on the dotted line to the world's toughest and truest hard rock label..."

vader VADER BRING BLITZ! OVER EUROPE TOUR TO THE UK AND IRELAND IN MARCH
"We come together with our dudes from Hate. We can't wait to bring Hellfire to you soon..."

thy art is murder THY ART IS MURDER ANNOUNCE UK SHOWS SUPPORTING EMMURE
Tickets are on sale now for what promises to be the heaviest tour of the year...

horror holocaust CROSSOVER DEATH SUPERGROUP DENIAL FIEND RE-ISSUE 'HORROR HOLOCAUST' ON VINYL AND IN EUROPE FOR THE FIRST TIME
Ten tales of blood curdling horror that are anvil heavy thrashing death...

wacken EUROPE AND DREAM THEATER ANNOUNCED FOR WACKEN
The sold out legendary German festival announces more details of the mouth-watering bill...

camden rocks CAMDEN ROCKS 2015 ANNOUNCE THE FIRST ACTS
The bands include Trail of Dead, Funeral For a Friend, Heavens Basement, The Dictators, Black Spiders and more...

all that remains ALL THAT REMAINS LAUNCH #thisprobablywontendwell PICTURE COMPETITION
This unique competition marks the release of new studio album 'The Order Of Things' out on Feb 23rd...

titanfest TITANFEST ANNOUNCED FOR MAY IN LONDON - FIRST BANDS REVEALED
Titanfest now sees some of the most respected and time-hardened Metal musicians working side by side with the next generation of the emerging UK Metal scene...

joe lynn turner JOE LYNN TURNER ANNOUNCES UK AND NORTHERN IRELAND DATES THIS SPRING
Legendary rock and roll singer Joe Lynn Turner of Rainbow and Deep Purple fame is pleased to confirm details of his intimate acoustic 'An Evening With...' tour...

wildfire festival EXCLUSIVE: WILDFIRE FESTIVAL 2015 ANNOUNCES FIFTY BAND LINE-UP
Wildfire is known for bringing the best in Scottish talent to Wiston Lodge, and there is one name everyone at Wildfire HQ agreed should be on the bill...

kiss KISS GET ANIMATED IN COLLABORATION WITH J-POP IDOLS MOMOIRO CLOVER Z!
Just when you thought the Metal world had gone insane enough with Babymetal...

ronnie james dio RONNIE JAMES DIO FIFTH ANNIVERSARY MEMORIAL EVENTS ANNOUNCED
The weekend will include a public memorial service, a celebrity bowling tournament and the inaugural Ride For Ronnie motorcycle ride and BBQ...

walkway WALKWAY RELEASE SINGLE AND VIDEO FOR 'STREETWISE'
The single is the first release from their second studio album. Walkway will support Status Quo in June 2015...

motley crue MOTLEY CRUE REVEAL DATE OF FINAL SHOW AND FINAL TOUR LAST LEG DETAILS: NEW SINGLE AND VIDEO OUT NOW
Motley Crue are also in the process of putting together the ultimate collector's album package...

art of anarchy PRESENTING ART OF ANARCHY FEATURING SCOTT WEILAND, BUMBLEFOOT, JOHN MOYER OF DISTURBED AND JON AND VINCE VOTTA
Poised to become one of the biggest new bands of 2015, Art Of Anarchy is redefining the rock supergroup...

jettblack JETTBLACK RETURN WITH A BRAND NEW SINGLE AND VIDEO
Jettblack get serious in 2015, kicking things off with a headline tour and new single in February...

dead kennedys DEAD KENNEDYS FANS PERFORM PUBLIC SEX ACT LIVE ON STAGE
"This was something definitely different to see at a punk concert..."

evil scarecrow EVIL SCARECROW'S MISSING TRACK FINALLY RELEASED! A MESSAGE FROM DR HELL!
Evil Scarecrow have just released a new, old version of 'Robototron', which they feel is the definitive version of their most popular track...

eddie and the hot rods BREAKING NEWS: ORIGINAL EDDIE AND THE HOT RODS LINE-UP REFORM FOR 40th ANNIVERSARY
This will be the first time all original members have played a full show together for over thirty years...

carthagods CARTHAGODS TO RELEASE DEBUT ALBUM WITH SPECIAL GUESTS INCLUDING TIM "RIPPER" OWENS, RON THAL AND MARK JANSEN
"It's been a long time that we look for this occasion to finally satisfy our fans..."

paddy goes to holyhead EXCLUSIVE: PADDY GOES TO HOLYHEAD ANNOUNCE FINAL CONCERT FOR ST PATRICK'S NIGHT
Sadly it's the end of an era as Paddy Goes To Holyhead have announced that they are to play their final gig...

grateful dead BREAKING NEWS: GRATEFUL DEAD TO RE-UNITE FOR 50th ANNIVERSARY FAREWELL CONCERTS
The reunion, billed "Fare Thee Well: Celebrating 50 Years of Grateful Dead", will feature the band's surviving members...

nazareth BREAKING NEWS: VOCALIST LINTON OSBOURNE LEAVES NAZARETH
"I am no longer a member of Nazareth. It didn't work out, for me, or for the band..."

lordi LORDI ANNOUNCE UK DATES FOR TOUR FORCE ONE
Lordi bring 'Scare Force One' to the UK for ten dates in the Spring...

nightwish NIGHTWISH REVEAL TRACKLIST & FORMATS OF 'ENDLESS FORMS MOST BEAUTIFUL'
The new studio album, released on 30th March, is available in several tasty formats...

iron maiden IRON MAIDEN LEADER STEVE HARRIS' MANSION BACK ON THE MARKET AT KNOCKDOWN PRICE
The mansion boasts its own pub called the Horse and Cart as well as an indoor swimming pool...

pete way EXCLUSIVE: ALL PARTIES IN BATTLE BETWEEN FIN MUIR AND PETE WAY OF WAYSTED GIVE A RESPONSE
"I can confirm that this appalling defamation is completely without foundation..."

death angel DEATH ANGEL ANNOUNCE UK HEADLINE SHOW AND DATES WITH QUEENSRYCHE AND ARMORED SAINT
Los Angeles Heavy Metal legends Armored Saint will join both acts for a special London show at the Electric Ballroom...

udo dirkschneider U.D.O. TO PLAY ENGLAND FOR THE FIRST TIME IN DONKEY'S YEARS
Germany's favourite rock god Udo Dirkschneider has announced three exclusive shows for the UK...

california breed CALIFORNIA BREED HAS GONE THE WAY OF BLACK COUNTRY COMMUNION
After a great first album, the departure of a superstar drummer, and very little touring, California Breed is extinct...

kamelot KAMELOT SIGNS TO NAPALM RECORDS; NEW ALBUM AND TOUR DATES ANNOUNCED
In support of this highly anticipated release, Kamelot will hit the road for select UK shows, followed by a massive North America Tour...

the gentle storm ARJEN LUCASSEN AND ANNEKE VAN GIERSBERGEN'S NEW BAND THE GENTLE STORM REVEAL TOUR DATES AND ALBUM DETAILS
"We'll perform some Ayreon classics together and premiere a couple of songs that will be on our upcoming album..."

jimmy page JIMMY PAGE IN FIGHT WITH ROBBIE WILLIAMS OVER HOUSE RENOVATION
The pair are neighbours and have fallen out over Williams' plans to revamp his multi-million pound mansion...

hard rock hell SAXON ANNOUNCED FOR HARD ROCK HELL 9 WITH ROCK GODDESS, PIG IRON AND MORE
Hard Rock Hell, aptly titled 'House of Horrors', are pleased to welcome Heavy Metal Titans Saxon back into their realm...

dark funeral DARK FUNERAL TO RELEASE 7INCH & DIGITAL SINGLE 'NAIL THEM TO THE CROSS' IN FEBRUARY
The single is available as a hand-numbered 7inch limited edition of which 500 copies are on black vinyl and 500 on blue vinyl...

santa cruz SANTA CRUZ TO RELEASE BRAND NEW SELF-TITLED ALBUM ON MARCH 9th VIA SPINEFARM RECORDS
Santa Cruz will also play five UK dates as main support to Amaranthe...

tygers of pan tang TYGERS OF PAN TANG TO HEADLINE GARAGE DAYZ RE-VISITED ALL DAYER IN LONDON
A mouth watering bill not only from bands that were a huge influence to bands like Metallica and Megadeth....

truffle TRUFFLE TO PLAY SPECIAL SOUTH COAST GIG WITH SIEGE, TOLEDO STEEL AND KODIAK JACK
Tickets are priced at only $7.50 for a night that promises to be full of faces from the area past and present....

ensiferum ENSIFERUM UNLEASH TWO NEW VIDEOS ON EVE OF LAUNCH ON NEW ALBUM
Today Ensiferum unveils the official new video for 'One Man Army''s title track as well as an in-depth "making of" clip...

autograph AUTOGRAPH RELEASE FIRST NEW SONG IN OVER 25 YEARS
Simply put, a reunion was both inevitable and essential...

steve hackett STEVE HACKETT ANNOUNCES NEW SOLO STUDIO ALBUM 'WOLFLIGHT' OUT ON 30th MARCH
The ten tracks take the listener through a journey in space and time looking at the different faces of the endless fight for freedom...

adrian smith IRON MAIDEN'S ADRIAN SMITH ROCKS UP IN CHISWICK WITH DOOGIE WHITE, ANDY BARNETT AND DAVE 'BUCKET' COLWELL
MetalTalk's first Gig Of The Week for 2015 turned up two major surprises as a great night was had by all...

sabaton SABATON ANNOUNCE "SABATON OPEN AIR" WITH POWERWOLF AND CIVIL WAR
Tickets are on sale now for this special event in Germany in July...

pig iron PIG IRON ANNOUNCE RELEASE DATE FOR FIFTH STUDIO ALBUM
'Sermons From The Church Of Blues Restitution' will be released worldwide via OYR on 2nd March and will be preceded by a high value four track EP...

sonata arctica SONATA ARCTICA ANNOUNCE EXCLUSIVE LONDON SHOW FOR 'ECLIPTICA OVER EUROPE TOUR 2015'
"On these shows we'll perform 'Ecliptica' in its entirety as well as assorted hits from our catalog..."

skalmold SKALMOLD UNVEIL NEW SPRING TOUR DATES WITH ELUVEITIE AND WIND ROSE
For those who didn't catch the Viking/Pagan Metallers live on tour, here's another chance...

tony iommi BLACK SABBATH LEGEND TONY IOMMI TELLS ALL ABOUT HIS CANCER BATTLE
"In the good old days there was cocaine everywhere. This time we had tea and coffee and health drinks..."

def con one DEF CON ONE ANNOUNCE CRUSHING HEADS TOUR
British Metallers Def Con One can be seen across the UK in 2015...

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