Magnum – Escape from the Shadow Garden by Lisa Nash

Rating: 4/5
Distributor/label: SPV/Steamhammer
Released: 2014
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Band Website:
Magnum - Escape from the Shadow Garden

Band line-up:
Tony Clarkin – guitars
Bob Catley – vocals
Mark Stanway – keyboards
Al Barrow – bass
Harry James – drums


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
You know what you are going to get with a Magnum Album, and this is traditional Magnum fayre, get ready to hoist the lighters, wave your arms aloft and sing your heart out to anthemic classics. They have been doing this since 1978 and if they did any different their army of loyal fans would be very disappointed. In 1978 Magnum were classed as metal, these days with the way music has evolved they are more melodic rock.
These songs will make you smile, reminisce about the ‘good ol’ days’ when Rock was King & Bon Jovi still had perms. Of course that’s great if like me you are the wrong side of 40 and remember such times, for younger music fans this will still have a glorious energy, Magnum can still rock out with the best of them. Up tempo and huge sounds, Bob’s voice is still as engaging as ever, vocally dynamic and easy to sing along with.
These however are not radio-friendly fodder, Magnum have given up trying to get mainstream radio play and instead have opted to make the music they love. Mammoth, indulgent, like full cream milk in an era when we are all used to skimmed, it might make you feel a bit guilty and you know you shouldn’t but what the hell.
The album artwork reminds me of my favourite Magnum Album, ‘Storytellers Night’, often viewed as their best work, this is not a new Storytellers unfortunately, it won’t take them back to the Stadium days of ‘Wings of Heaven’ either, but it is a pleasing album with a solid punch to each song. Magnum are still fighting.
This is studio album 19, very few bands reach such a high number, they haven’t always had an easy ride, been through some tough times, but they seem to have it right now. Mainly when I review I am looking for something that tells me the band have a future, with Magnum its different, its more about building on their past. Their sound is already defined and distinct, they don’t need to try to break new ground, they did that years ago.
‘Live ‘Til You Die’, kicks the album off, pounding drums and symphonic keys define its style.
Next up is ‘Unwritten Sacrifice’, more emotional, with its powerful chorus. ‘Falling For The Big Plan’, is rhythmically strong and ‘Crying In The Rain’ dramatic, there has always been a sense of the theatrical with Magnum. ‘Too Many Clowns’ is a great example of Magnum’s storytelling lyrics and Tony Clarkin’s ballsy guitar.‘Midnight Angel’, slows us down with some acoustic guitar and an emotive song of hope, easily my favourite track on this album while ‘The Art Of Compromise’ begins with a sombre piano and builds joyfully, this is typical Magnum, and you cannot help but feel the spirit lifted when listening to Magnum. ‘Don’t Fall Asleep’ is one of their haunting songs, ‘Wisdom’s Had Its Day’ would not be out of place in a West End Production, and I can picture Bob conducting the band with his arms spread wide.In ‘Burning River’, we get the gritty rocker, and I can’t help but remember ‘Don’t Pay the Ferry Man’, it has the same sort of feel. Last track on the standard CD is ‘The Valley Of Tears’, as is normal this is the big power ballad, beautiful and poignant. There is a live bonus track on vinyl and the DigiPack version includes a DVD.
Much as I love to experience new music and revel in unsigned bands, its nice to know you have old friends to count on, ones who will never change.

Review by Lisa Nash