There’s a slight improvement to be found on this Magnum albeit, not quite there but far better than the last three efforts.
Written by: gdmonline
ALBUM: Escape From The Shadow Garden
SERIAL: SPV 266200
CD REISSUE: Discogs Reissue List
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: England
LINEUP: Tony Clarkin – guitars * Bob Catley – vocals * Mark Stanway – keyboards * Al Barrow – bass * Harry James – drums
TRACK LISTING: 01 Live ‘Til You Die * 02 Unwritten Sacrifice * 03 Falling For The Big Plan * 04 Crying In The Rain * 05 Too Many Clowns * 06 Midnight Angel * 07 The Art Of Compromise * 08 Don’t Fall Asleep * 09 Wisdom’s Had Its Day * 10 Burning River * 11 The Valley Of Tears
WEBLINKS: Site Link
Well I’ll be the first to admit that the recent output from Magnum did very little for me. A great band struggling with the onset of time I reckon, though I’m sure they’d be the first to disagree. Not since the 2007 album ‘Princess Alice..’ did the band last leave an engaging impression, until now that is. It’s taken three albums to get back into favour.
Let me be honest. The last three albums were drawn out and uninteresting affairs. Too much tiptoeing through the tulips for mine. The best thing they did was to go back to the drawing board, and get rowdy again, and on ‘Escape From The Shadow Garden’, it’s like they are traversing through a thicket of gorse, getting scratched and bruised on the way out, and they are all the more better for it.
It’s an ambitious opening with the 6 and a half minute ‘Live Til You Die’. An orchestral piece leads the way, hardened with Clarkin’s tough guitar work. The song doesn’t give you a break, the consistent tempo keeps you on edge, with chugging guitar riffs always in attendance.
The band really kick ass for the first time in years with the raucous ‘Too Many Clowns’. Aah a breath of fresh air! Love it. The third of the stand-out tracks is ‘Burning River’, Magnum sounding far more effective when the energy is surging through their music.
On ‘Unwritten Sacrifice’, Mark Stanway initially provides some big synth splashes and intricate piano parts, but the song spirals upward into the heavens as a symphonic epic of sorts. I wasn’t really keen on those songs which took an age to get going. Magnum aren’t the first band to be accused of that (as most prog bands are prone to do), as time is precious and attention spans are short.
‘Falling For The Big Plan’ falls into this category, so too the over-extended 7 minute ‘Midnight Angel’, though both songs have their moments admittedly. There are a brace of slower paced songs which gradually build momentum. Tracks such as ‘Don’t Fall Asleep’, ‘Wisdom Had Its Day’ and ‘The Valley Of Tears’ all get lumbered into that category.
Of course not everything here is totally engaging, but the tracks which are deserve some listening time. I really need to sit down with this one a bit more, just to get to the bottom of it and understand where these blokes are at.
Still, ‘Escape From The Shadow Garden’ wouldn’t be complete without some awesome album cover work from Rodney Matthews, who takes us back to imagery cast from the era of ‘Chase The Dragon’ and ‘The Eleventh Hour’. Matthews and Clarkin’s vision of nuclear reactors and strewn landscapes there for all to see. You can’t have the imagery without the music now can we?
Entire Album (Select Tracks)