Magnum – “Escape From The Shadow Garden” (Steamhammer / SPV)
Hot off the heels of their 2012 release “On The 13th Day” comes the 18th album from Birmingham’s pomp rockers Magnum! By now almost a British institution, these guys formed in the early 70s until they rose to fame in 1985 with their hit album “On A Storyteller’s Night”. Well, If you’re wondering if there’s more than a resemblance of that album’s cover to this one, then there isn’t as they’re both done by Rodney Matthews! If that hasn’t got you itching then ‘The Hat’ has clearly been working hard on material that could’ve been drawn right back to when I first heard them on “Chase The Dragon” right thru to “Vigilante” and the more recent stuff – that album cover says it all really, with graphics culled from all these previous albums brought together magnificently. From the rocking ‘Burning River’ to the meandering ‘Falling For The Big Red Plan’ to the modern prog pomp of ‘Wisdom’s Had It’s Day’, Clarkin shows his worth as one of Britain’s great rock composers, masterfully spanning the entire rock spectrum but never forgetting his roots and reflecting this quintessentially in what is Magnum. No more so is this than in the epic ‘Midnight Angel’, a power ballad – a specialty of Magnum -guaranteed to touch everyone’s heart and stir the passion with Harry’s precision drumbeats and its nostalgic sound. The magic between Catley and Clarkin is flawless, something that can only be attained thru the working relationship they’ve had over 4 decades, with their hearts and souls etched into these tracks – it is what is, to all intents and purposes what Magnum is about and why they will never be forgotten by their army of fans both young and old.