What can I say about the British pomp rock band Magnum? Only the good bands survive? Well, ever since their spellbinding debut album Kingdom Of Madness (1978), these musicians have been part of the British symphonic hard rock scene. Meanwhile Escape From The Shadow Garden is their seventeenth studio album and I can tell you right now that it belongs to the best albums they ever recorded! Tony Clarkin (guitars) and Bob Catley (vocals) did it again, as the eleven new songs are almost all symphonic rock gems.
Live 'Till You Die opens this album brilliantly and especially Catley's voice is sublime here; I think he really is an underestimated singer. Listen to this amazing opener and you'll be convinced, I hope. The music of Magnum is still extremely melodious and Clarkin, Catley, veteran Mark Stanway (keyboards), Al Barrow (bass) and Harry James (drums) blend progressive and melodic rock influences into catchy classic powerful songs. These are tracks that only Clarkin & Co. are able to compose, play and produce, because you immediately recognize those pieces after a couple of seconds as they sound so familiar. Falling For The Big Plan is another highlight featuring an addictive chorus and a great guitar melody.
Of course you can also enjoy a couple of typical Magnum ballads such as The Valley Of Tears, Don't Fall Asleep, Wisdom Had Its Day and Unwritten Sacrifice. All four are classic ballads filled with beautiful melodies, fine arrangements and outstanding vocal performances by Catley. The band's previous album On The 13th Day was a great one, but to me this new record is even better since Magnum sound better than ever before! Escape From The Shadow Garden is highly recommended and not only to Magnum fans, as this record will definitely appear in my top ten list of 2014! Play it loud and as often as you can! I can't wait to watch the band on their upcoming tour in the Netherlands.
**** Martien Koolen (edited by Peter Willemsen)
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