27. Escaping From The Shadow Garden
In early July 2013 Al announced via facebook that the new album was already in production. Its title was announced to be “Escape From The Shadow Garden”. Tony declared in an interview, that this had to do with everyone knowing the situation that you pass the closed gates of a garden and you cannot see inside, because of walls and hedges. So you start wondering what may be inside, especially if there is a “keep out” sign on it. He had talked to Rodney Matthews about the whole matter and Rodney had agreed to not only design the front, but the back of the cover artwork, too, so this time it would be a really big picture.
Recording started in summer, however it wasn’t done all in one go as Bob was touring with AVANTASIA in between.
In August MAGNUM played a few festivals in the UK and Sweden with a slightly shortened setlist from the last tour.
The album appeared on 25.3.2014 and featured 11 tracks: “Live ‘Til You Die”, “Unwritten Sacrifice”, “Falling For The Big Plan”, “Crying In The Rain”, “Too Many Clowns”, “Midnight Angel”, “The Art Of Compromise”, “Don’t Fall Asleep”, “Wisdom’s Had It’s Day”, “Burning River” and “The Valley Of Tears”. It came in four different formats: as download, standard CD, limited edition digipack CD with bonus DVD and as a double vinyl LP. The LP featured “Dance Of The Black Tattoo (live)” as a bonus track. The bonus DVD contained on tour footage with the background tracks “Dance Of The Black Tattoo (live)” and “Two Many Clowns” and four live tracks from the Visitation Tour, “Black Skies”, Freedom Day”, “All My Bridges” and “On A Storyteller’s Night”.
The album was very guitar-orientated with a lot of driving rhythms. “Too Many Clowns” is a 50s-style Rock’n’Roll song about politicians who forget about the people who voted for them as soon as they are elected. “Live ‘Til You Die” was about accepting the life you’re born to live as there is no alternative anyway. So you are to make the best of it! The Valley Of Tears was the great ballad to finish the album. Its message was to never give up despite all the pain you may have to bear. This is a recurring motif in many MAGNUM songs, e.g. “The Last Dance” or “Don’t Fall Asleep”. “Unwritten Sacrifice” honoured the unknown soldiers who give their lives all around the world and the simply fade from people’s memories. “Crying In The Rain” was a “girl-leaves-boy”-story. She lies to him, betrays him and finally leaves him, an everyday drama.
Rodney Matthews designed the cover which showed the storyteller with his stick and bag, sitting in front of a strange blue tree, which is similar to the one from the “Chase The Dragon-cover”, behind which the evil elf from the “13th Day” cover was lurking. The tree was skull-shaped with a serpent creeping through one of the eye sockets. Its head was shaped like the dragon from the “CTD”-cover. Purple fruit, shaped like question marks was dangling from the crown of the tree. In the barren background there was a hand on the left pointing to the east and the castle from the “Mirador”-compilation on the right side. In the foreground, on the right side, there was a road sign with the album title on it. On the left side of the sign was the hand from the jack-in-the-box from “Sleepwalking”, pointing to the west, on top, pointing up the witch’s hand from “The 11th Hour” and on the right the storyteller’s hand, pointing down. On the backside of the cover the jack-in-the-box could be found as well, this time in the guise of a skeleton holding a pirate flag. In the background there were the unicorn from “Vigilante” and giant sword of chaos. In the Middle there was a pyramid, topped by a dollar-sign, emerging from a galaxy underground and the heart from “The Visitation”. In the foreground there were buffalo-skull-shaped rose bushes, purple flowers with more skulls in their middle, a Chase The Dragon-dragonfly,a spider with the sword of chaos-emblem on its back and the head of the wolf, both from “Princess Alice And The Broken Arrow” placed on a rock. Above all floated half moons like the ones from the “Into The Valley Of The Moon King”-cover.
The media, especially the rock magazines gave the album a very warm welcome. In one magazine it even became “album of the month”. It was reviewed as varied, guitar-oriented, wonderfully oldschool and innovative at the same time. Bob’s voice, though matured, was described as still in fabulous shape, which was more than true.
The album entered the British album charts at a wonderful 38th place and rocketed up to 22 in Switzerland, 19 in Sweden and 14 in Germany, which meant the highest chart position since the reunion!
The band went on a full European tour in April and May 2014 with NEONFLY as support in the UK and double headlining shows with SAGA in Germany. The setlist read: “Live ‘til You Die”/ “Black Skies”/ “Freedom Day”/ “Dance Of The Black Tattoo”/ “Blood Red Laughter”/ “Unwritten Sacrifice”/ “How Far Jerusalem”/ “Les Morts Dansant”/ “Falling For The Big Plan”/ “All England’s Eyes”/ “Vigilante”/ “Kingdom Of Madness” and as encores “The Spirit” and “Sacred Hour”
Three songs, „All England’s Eyes“, “The Spirit” and “Too Many Clowns” were dropped for the double headliner shows with SAGA.
The stage was set as usual with a huge banner featuring the album cover picture in the background. The band wore special stage dresses, long jackets in different colours. Again, there were swell reviews of their concerts which still attested MAGNUM an extraordinary performance, despite their not being teenagers anymore.
In late 2014 there was more joy for the fans: the band had re-recorded the 1996 song “On Christmas Day” which was released accidentally for download on Amazon on 24.10.2014 but officially as download and limited edition 10” vinyl single on 14.11.2014. The title track was featured in two versions, a short radio edit and the full version. The third track on the single was “Born To Be King”, another track with a Christian background, originally released on the “Goodnight L.A.-album. Another winter tour followed which took the band to Switzerland, Germany, The Netherlands and finally Great Britain. The setlist was the same one as on the last tour with some small modifications in the running order and – of course – On Christmas Day was added as an encore. The band was supported by LIBERTY LIES in the UK and by RONIN in Europe.
Shortly before Christmas Rodney Matthews sent out a newly recorded version of his mini-album “Three Ships” out to family and friends. Bob had also contributed to that CD, but unfortunately it wasn’t made available to the public.
Bob Al and Mark stated in interviews that live material from the “Escape From The Shadow Garden”-Tour was to be released in 2015. This was confirmed by the release calendar of SPV. The live album was to be promoted with some summer festival shows.