23. Into The Valley Of The Moon King – With Album And Tour
In September 2008 Bob announced in a radio interview that the next MAGNUM-album, scheduled for August 2009, had the working title of “The Rise Of The Moon King”. Work on that album continued throughout the end of 2008 with a short interruption around the release of Bob’s “Immortal” solo album. Shortly before Christmas the final title “Into The Valley Of The Moon King” was fixed. Co-producer was Sheena Sear and the album cover was once more done by Rodney Matthews.
This picture shoved an old benevolent man, showing a young boy the way to adventure, pointing in the direction of the moon. On its way there is a spaceship with a sail shaped like the MAGNUM-“M” from the early 80’s. The same symbol can be found on a pendant, dangling from the old man’s bracelet. The ceiling of the cave they are standing in shows a blue dragon (symbolizing heaven) and a tiger (symbolizing earth). The palace in the background is the one from “Chase The Dragon”. On the floor there are the “Storyteller’s” walking stick and bag. The mice can be found on the “Storyteller”, “Sleepwalking” and “Princess Alice” covers. If you have a closer look at the lamp in the foreground you will find that it is the same one as the one on the “Storyteller” picture – only without the glass cover.
The album was out in three different formats: on standard CD, LP (!) and a limited edition CD and DVD. The bonus DVD contained some older live footage, a 45-minute interview with all band members, the album lyrics and artwork and a featurette about the song “Les Morts Dansant”, which showed Remembrance Day film material from the First World War with the song in the background.
The tracks on the album were: “Intro”, “Cry To Yourself”, “All My Bridges”, “Take Me To The Edge”, “The Moonking”, “No One Knows His Name”, “In My Minds Eye”, “Time To Cross That River”, “If I Ever Lose My Mind”, “A Face In The Crowd”, “Feels Like Treason” and “Blood On Your Barbed Wire Thorns”.
“Cry To Yourself” was released in advance as an online “gydget” to give the fans an impression of the new CD. The outstanding tracks of the album were “All My Bridges”, an uptempo rocker, the title song called “The Moonking” with fantasy lyrics and a gripping chorus, The anti-war song “No One Knows His Name” and the great ballad “A Face In The Crowd” about the meaning of life. The last song “Blood On Your Barbed Wire Thorns” was a little controversial. Some reviewers detected an AC/DC-like rhythm in it and called it a rip-off, others criticized the “yeah yeah yeah” – part of the lyrics as boring and full of cliché. However, other fans named it as their favourite song and loved e.g. the instrumental outro played by Jim Lea of SLADE, which was scored by Sheena Sear.
Tony stated about this album that he was very pleased with the latest outcome of his band: “The last three albums seem more complete than before the reunion”, he said. “It seems like it’s taken me 25 years to learn how to do it properly. There are still things I’ve got to learn – it’s the same old story, you never stop learning. But it seems to be coming right all of a sudden.” …”These last three albums are my favourite ones, really.”
The album was released on 12./15.6.2009. The critics really liked the album as a logical follow-up to “Princess Alice”. In times of steadily decreasing CD sales figures the chart positions were quite impressive: Nr. 37 in the UK, 41 in Sweden and 59 in Germany. In the UK it even took the Nr. 2 spot in the Rock and Heavy charts only behind the GREEN DAY’s album “Breakdown”!!
Its release was be followed by a full UK and European tour, this time including Sweden, Denmark, Germany, Switzerland, Italy, Spain, Portugal and finally the UK. Several bands were named to support the band on different parts of the tour: M.ILL.ION, SOLEY MOURNING, SAIDIAN, DARK SKY, DECADENZE, LIBERTY LIES and AWAKE.
This was a typical “raw MAGNUM” tour. No big stage this time, just the band and their music.
The setlist read: “Intro/Cry To Yourself”/”Take Me To The Edge”/”Brand New Morning”/”The Moon King”/When We Were Younger”/”No One Knows His Name”/”Dragons Are Real”/”Face In The Crowd”/”We All Run”/”Les Morts Dansant”/”All My Bridges”/All England’s Eyes/””Vigilante” plus “Don’t Wake The Lion “ and “Kingdom Of Madness as encores.
Interestingly, the band had replaced many of the more famous tracks with more recent material – which was cheered by fans and critics as the band were about to repeat themselves too often. There was a great response to the tour. Audience and critics were between satisfied and enthusiastic about the new setlist. “We All Run” got a completely new intro and one of the audience favourites was “All My Bridges” from the Moonking-album which was presented at an even higher tempo than on the album.
The first gig in Malmö/Sweden was a special one. Much to the fan’s surprise the HARD RAIN song “Shame For The Bad Boy” was rendered after “All My Bridges”, a really exotic addition to the set. It was so hot at that gig that Bob nearly fainted, so the gig had to be cut short and “Don’t Wake The Lion” was dropped.
The gig in Bologna/Italy had to be cancelled as the local promoter had not provided the necessary equipment for the show, which was very unfortunate but couldn’t be helped.
Sadly, during the tour MAGNUM’s rehearsal place burned out completely and devastated Al’s photo studio while the band was in Europe.
Nevertheless, Al had a great idea to keep the fans informed about all stages of the tour. Seven “Moonblogs” were posted on YouTube, accessible via the official website on the Internet. These blogs gave the fans behind-the-scenes information (Bob loves Marmite – the others don’t!!) about venues, crew members etc. Fans from near and far were interviewed and Tony answered fan questions.
In summer the band played a series of festivals in various countries. The set was abridged to fit in with the playing slots but the songs rendered were very much the same as on the tour: “Intro/ Cry To Yourself”/ “Take Me To The Edge”/ “Brand New Morning”/ “The Moon King”/ “When We Were Younger”/ “No One Knows His Name”/ “Dragons Are Real”/ “We All Run”/ “Les Morts Dansant All My Bridges”/ “All England's Eyes”/ “Vigilante”/ “Kingdom Of Madness”.
Tobi Sammet of AVANTASIA reviewed most of MAGNUM’s album covers in the July issue of the Classic Rock Prog Rock special magazine and confessed to be a massive MAGNUM fan himself.
In September a lavish 5-CD box set containing various works throughout MAGNUM’s career was published under the name “The Gathering”. Besides a great book with a lot of photos there was a live CD from 1988 with previously unheard live material, some of which had even been missing from the 1988 “On The Wings Of Heaven” live video. The cover art was yet again done by Rodney Matthews.