31. Lost On The Road To Eternity - with famous support
During a busy summer with some festivals in the UK, Germany and Spain the band started to record what was to become their 20th studio album (not counting the acoustic album “Keeping The Nitelight Burning”). On the Rock Meets Classic tour in April Tony had met German composer/director/arranger Wolf Kerschek. Tony developed the idea of an orchestrated song with Wolf on the tour bus and then contacted Tobias Sammet, the frontman of AVANTASIA and EDGUY. As Bob had guested on several AVANTASIA albums, Tony saw the opportunity for a reverse visit on the new MAGNUM output on this orchestrated song. Sammet immediately agreed and so the title track “Lost On The Road To Eternity” was born and recorded.
MAGNUM recorded another 10 tracks for the album which was finally released on 19.1.2018 on SPV records. The tracklist read: “Peaches And Cream”, “Show Me Your Hands”, “Storm Baby”, “Welcome To The Cosmic Cabaret”, “Lost On The Road To Eternity”, “Without Love”, “Tell Me What You’ve Got To Say”, “Ya Wanna Be Someone”, “Forbidden Masquerade”, “Glory To Ashes” and “King Of The World”. The album was released on vinyl with a standard CD and as a CD-digipack with four bonus songs, recorded at the Leyendas Del Rock Festival in Alicante/Spain on 12th August 2017, so these were the first MAGNUM-recordings with Rick and Lee. These were “”Sacred Blood - “Divine” Lies, “Crazy Old Mothers”, “Your Dreams Won’t Die” and “Twelve Men Wise And Just”, all from the last album.
Prior to the album, on 8th December the new single, “Without Love” was available for download as an edited version. There was also a lyrics video for the single.
Tony described every track of the album in a lengthy radio interview. “Peaches And Cream” is a song about life in general which is not always as easy as it seems as first sight, and that you’ve got to work for it. “Show Me Your Hands” is obviously a song about the ever-loyal audiences MAGNUM have always had. “Storm Baby”, a kind of love song had a lot of keyboard-input from Rick whereas “Welcome To The Cosmic Cabaret” was inspired by Istanbul, where Tony spent a holiday. “Lost On The Road To Eternity” is mainly about people who lose their track in life and “Without Love” a song about children in poor countries who sometimes have to grow up in the streets without parents and, therefore, without love. “Tell Me What You’ve Got To Say” is about people who love to say nasty things on the social media instead of talking to people directly. “Ya Wanna Be Someone” is a controversial song, apparently about - quote - “over-ambitious, narcist people”. “Forbidden Masquerade” is about things that happen to people when losing their mind, e.g. when they are drunk. “Glory To Ashes” is the obligatory anti-war song and “King Of The World” is about any messiah-figure in all the different religions of this world.
The cover that sported mainly greenish colours showed an assembly of characters from famous fantasy literature books, e.g. almost the complete cast of Lewis Carrol’s “Alice In Wonderland”: Alice herself, the Queen and King of Hearts, the grinning cat, the rabbit and the Three of Spades. More characters are Dorothy (from “The Wizard Of Oz”) along with the tin man, the fearful lion, the scarecrow and some witches, one of them obviously the wicked one of the West. There are also Sherlock Holmes, investigating some footprints, and Robin Hood. Behind them there are two larger characters in front of a giant greenish tree: A good angel or elf holding the Sword of Chaos (which was also back in the band logo) and a scroll. On the other side there was the grim reaper himself with a large scythe and a button with an evil-looking Mickey Mouse. The tree had a lot of skull fruits dangling from it. In front of all that there was the little boy from The Moonking cover with his dog who was just stealing some sausages. On the back side you could see a fishing goblin on a bridge, a shipwreck with a spider next to it (on whose bottom there was another Sword of Chaos) and in the background the eagle’s head from top of the Storyteller’s walking stick on a rock and a giant Moon sporting the Wings Of Heaven-logo.
The reviewers all over Europe hailed the album in a rare unison. It managed to win the “soundcheck” in the German “Rock It” magazine, which really knights the album, as all the journalists who work for the magazine mark every album of the respective month, so there are power and death metal fans along with the classic rock lovers who cast their vote. But also Spanish, Swedish and British media described it as a masterpiece and it got the highest marks everywhere. The single made the BBC 2 playlist in January, was played there regularly and on 14th January MAGNUM were even invited to do a short acoustic live set. Along with an interview the band, reinforced my Rebecca Downes and Lee Small on backing vocals, performed two acoustic tracks: “Without Love” and a cover version of Bob Dylan’s “Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door”. Coinciding with the tour a radio edit of “Show Me Your Hands” was frequently played on British radio stations but not released as a second single.
Everybody eagerly awaited the chart positions which were published on Friday 26th January. Amazingly in the UK the album shot to position 15, even topping the Indie-charts. In France and the US (#56) they had their first chart position ever, in Sweden the album was at # 24, in Austria #22 and in Switzerland and Germany even at #8, which meant the highest chart success for MAGNUM in their entire career, even topping “Wings Of Heaven”! What a success and what a brilliant job by the band and the record company SPV.
After a first presentation of some of the new songs at the Giants Of Rock festival on 26.1.2018 along with SAXON, MAGNUM started their 2018 tour in February, which took them to UK, The Netherlands, Sweden, Norway, Germany, Poland, Switzerland, Italy and Spain. After the huge success of the album with massive sales, many venues were sold out or had to be upgraded to halls with greater capacities to meet demand. Mid-tour it was announced that the band would have the last gig of the tour in Birmingham recorded! This gig had to be rescheduled from its intended date (2.3.2018) as a heavy winter storm forced the original venue, the Town Hall, to cancel the concert. Tobias Sammet had flown over from Germany to join the band on stage, but that was not to happen. Instead, Tobi and the band spent most of the evening in the foyer of the hall socializing with the disappointed fans who had already made it there before the cancellation became known. It must have been an evening to remember after all, even if there was no music played.
The setlist included four songs of the new album: “When We Were Younger”/ “Sacred Blood, ‘Divine’ Lies”/ “Lost On The Road To Eternity”/ “Crazy Old Mothers”/ “Without Love”/ “Your Dreams Won’t Die”/ “Peaches And Cream”/ “How Far Jerusalem”/ “Les Morts Dansant”/ “Show Me Your Hands”/ “Twelve Men Wise And Just”/ “All England’s Eyes”/ “Vigilante”/ “Don’t Wake The Lion” and “The Spirit”/ “When The World Comes Down” as an encore. The traditional set closer “Kingdom Of Madness” was left out on this tour. MAGNUM performed in front of a backdrop which showed the “Reaper” from the LOTRTE-cover The same figure could be found on the tour shirts, black male, grey female. Another shirt sported the “clockwork” motive, which Lee also used for his impressive bass drumskins.
The rescheduled date in Birmingham was staged on 19th April 2018 and was recorded for a live CD. Tobias Sammet appeared on stage with the band while Rebecca Downes supported. Originally, there was a plan to even film the gig but that couldn’t be realised. However, the band announced a few “extras” to be published along with the live recording!