Magnum - Escape From The Shadow Garden (SPV) 2014
1. Live ‘Til You Die (6:29)
2. Unwritten Sacrifice (5:28)
3. Falling For The Big Plan (5:59)
4. Crying In The Rain (5:45)
5. Too Many Clowns (4:36)
6. Midnight Angel (7:18)
7. The Art Of Compromise (5:01)
8. Don’t Fall Asleep (5:59)
9. Wisdom’s Had Its Day (4:44)
10. Burning River (4:43)
11. The Valley Of Tears (6:39)
My exposure to Magnum upon purchasing this CD was their 80's catalog. What initially attracted me to this album was the outstanding Rodney Matthews artwork on the cover. Some of Magnum's finest 80's albums were adorned with Rodney's unique fantasy painting. As such, I picked up "Escape form the Shadow Garden" as a bit of a blind buy in hopes that the band would still be playing their same mix of melodic hard rock, pomp and prog-rock. Thankfully that is exactly what this album is.
The album starts off with the epic six minutes long, "Live ‘Til You Die". The song most definitely blends Magnum's progressive and melodic influences and does indeed sound like the same band that recorded classics like "Chase the Dragon" and "Storyteller's Night". The music is a blend of those big keyboards and fluent guitars, sewn together by the slightly raspy vocal delivery of Bob Catley. The rest of the album does not disappoint either. Some songs such as "Too Many Clowns" and perhaps "Falling for the Big Plan" have a slightly more modern sound, but still fit neatly on the overall sound of the album. As would be expected, despite the "prog" label, the songs have big hooks and catchy melodies.
Though I hate to compare Magnum to anyone, their sound wouldn't be far off from some of the John Payne-era Asia albums. Call 'em melodic rock, prog-rock, or AOR, Magnum blend them all into their own unique sound. "Escape from the Shadow Garden" is definitely a solid album from the Birmingham veterans.