Escape From The Shadow Garden Live 2014

"This is Magnums 9th live album and is a fitting reminder of just how good last year’s studio release ‘Escape from the Shadow Garden’ is. If you missed the supporting tour then this is as faithful a reproduction as you are going to get, my venue on that tour was 53Degrees in Preston, but the less said about that venue the better.

The first 6 tracks are taken from Magnum’s last three Studio albums, opening with ‘Live till you die’ a modern classic Magnum song in the making. The opening riff to The Visitation’s ‘Black Skies’ gives the band a edger sound, Bob is sounding as good if not better than ever and what can you say about Tony Clarkin, the man is a genius.

‘Freedom Day’ and ‘Dance Of The Black Tattoo’ are defining Magnums new heavier sound and the band aren’t afraid to play them live with both five string bass player Al Barrow and drummer Harry James delivery a power house of a rhythm section. Pianist Mark Stanway’s playing is as fluid and complementary as ever especially on ‘Freedom Day’ the interplay between Tony and Mark is just sublime, a joy to watch and a pleasure to listen to.

‘Blood Red Laughter’ is another strong track and deserves a place at the live table as well as the slow burning ‘Unwritten sacrifice’.

The second half of the set see’s Magnum delivery the classics, but there are so many of them it must be hard to choose the set list.

We get the mighty ‘How far Jerusalem’ the astonishingly moving ‘Les morts dasant’, the unexpected ‘Falling from the big plan’ as it’s taken from the Escape album, then it’s back to the classic’s with the anthemic ‘All England’s eyes’ and the uber catchy “Vigilante”.

‘Kingdom of madness’, off course, rounds the set and the night off. My only critisim is that the running time and the gig is a little on the short side, another couple of tracks, both favourites of mine ‘Don’t wake the lion’ which hasnt been played live since 2010, or ‘Midnight’ has’nt been played since 2008, or countless other songs would have made a wonderful gig and disc. Still, can’t wait for the next tour.

I have seen Magnum live many many times over the years and they never fail to impress, and this live release is no different, it is worthy of a place in your record collection." - PlanetMosh.com

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  • "Don’t let the Appearance Of Nothing distract you from hearing A New Beginning, because, despite such deception, there’s a lot to be enjoyed from one of Switzerland’s few progressive metal bands. I’ve decided to adopt a policy of responding to stupid band names with stupid puns, and I won’t stop until they do. Appearance Of Nothing plays straightforward melodic progressive metal that’s heavy on the melodic. The band has been around for about ten years, and this is their third album. For fans of their first two albums, as well as fans of the more accessible forms of progressive metal, this is a very strong release.Expect synth and guitar heavy music. Every song is carried by crunchy rhythm guitars, and I’m happy to report that the recording and production is spot on to allow them to really shine. As far as distinct strengths of the album: look no further the choruses. Every single one, particularly on the daunting 14 minute title track, is remarkably catchy. This memorability, along with the consistently driving pace of the album, makes it a very easy and enjoyable listen. The lead vocal performance is also pretty great, and the songwriting even manages to accommodate interspersed harsh vocals. Usually throwing harsh vocals into melodic prog is a quick turn-off for me, but I applaud Appearance Of Nothing for pulling it off.Where drawbacks are concerned, I can’t point to any specific “problems”, but there are a few minor disappointments. For a pretty heavy synth presence, strong vocals, and ample songwriting diversity, I was disappointed with the overall atmosphere of the album. While the songs were certainly strong, they lacked a unique identity. This isn’t so much a drawback as it is lost potential for a band that’s got everything else they need to be really, really good.Certainly check out the single “Chains Of History”, as well as the title track. As common to great progressive music, it’s often that the longest song ought to be the best, and that’s certainly true here with the title track. I again applaud solid work from the studio to draw out a powerful performance so that it actually sounds powerful. Where technically proficient progressive metal meets great melodies and an excellent performance, you can’t go wrong." - Black Wind Metal
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  • As a promotion leading up to the band's 15th anniversary concert, Within Temptation partnered with Q Music Belgium and Netherlands.  They released a series of cover tunes - 15 in all.  This CD includes 11 of them all done up Within Temptation style:‘Grenade’ (BRUNO MARS)‘Titanium’ (DAVID GUETTA ft. SIA)‘Let Her Go’ (PASSENGER)‘Summertime Sadness’ (LANA DEL RAY)‘Radioactive’ (IMAGINE DRAGONS)‘Crazy’ (GNARLS BARKLEY)‘Dirty Dancer’ (ENRIQUE IGLESIAS)‘Don’t You Worry Child’ (SWEDISH HOUSE MAFIA)‘Behind Blue Eyes’ (THE WHO)‘The Power Of Love’ (FRANKIE GOES TO HOLLYWOOD)‘Apologize’ (ONE REPUBLIC)There is no US release scheduled at this time.   
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  • ""It is a rare thing these days for a post-metal band to break the mold. So many bands play sludgy, lurching, epic metal that it can be hard to tell what band is trying to sound like Isis this time. This brings me to the breath of fresh air that is Secrets of the Sky.The Oakland based sextet takes what is a great but tired genre and adds a dash of black metal and a bit of prog. Imagine if you tossed Neurosis, more recent Immortal, and Porcupine Tree into a blender. Sounds like a fucked up mix, right? It's an awesome fucked up mix though.The Sail Black Waters consists of 4 tracks that are rooted in sludge, that manage to take twists and turns throughout it's all-too-short forty-one minute run-time. There are moments of dreamy soundscapes, harmonized clean vocals, and crescendos aplenty.A band they bring to mind is the Australian black-metal-with-a-violin band Ne Obliviscaris. They don't necessarily sound alike, especially because Secrets of the Skysimple aren't playing as fast, but their progressions are quite similar. Also, Secrets happen to employ a violin as one of the several talents of vocalist Garett Gazay. Their use of it is much more subtle than Ne Obliviscaris to the point where it becomes a game listening for it.In short, a phenomenal debut." - Metal Injection
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  • "Despite what the name might lead you to think, progressive metal is among the most static and boring of all heavy music genres. Half the bands that fall under the moniker exist merely as a vehicle to show off the skills of the players involved, which is fine in small doses, but rarely sustains a creative career. The other half of the bands stick rigidly to the blueprint of one of the fore-bearers of the genre, giving us music that sounds exactly like something we've already heard. Very little of progressive metal is actually interesting, because it is a genre that lacks people dedicated to the art of songwriting. Songs are what makes any band successful, no matter how much sheer musical skill they possess. Dream Theater didn't get to where they are just because they are amazing musicians, they also wrote a slew of great songs and albums. The number of progressive metal bands who have impressed me with their songwriting in recent years is miniscule, but I mention all of this because Ascendia is one of them.As “At The End Of It All” swells into focus with a tribal drum beat and chanted vocals, it's already obvious that this is not going to be prog-by-numbers. The song kicks into gear with a syncopated guitar riff, before the vocals soar over the top of everything, slapping a thick coat of melody atop the sound. There's a quiet section in the middle of the song that feels like a cousin of Killswitch Engage, which is a fresh sound to hear in this kind of music. When it opens back up into the chorus, the song is massive, and it's hard to believe all of that music was contained in five and a half minutes.The songs on the album are more bite-sized than typical progressive metal, but that plays into the band's strengths as songwriters. By keeping the songs lean and tight, they hit harder than if the instrumental sections had been extended by a minute here and there. There is interesting playing going on, but it's all done within the framework of the songs, and never put out front to dominate the spotlight. It's an approach that is smart not just because of how easy it is to get bogged down in instrumental pyrotechnics, but because an album of that sort would never be able to survive the Herculean vocal presence of singer Nick Sakal.With more than a little bit of similarity to the former singer of the aforementioned Killswitch Engage, Howard Jones, Sakal's vocals dominate the album, making you wonder where a voice like that could have come from. His baritone is warm, rich, and not at all what you would expect to hear in a band that isn't playing down-tuned hardcore.But what is most important are the songs, and that's where Ascendia proves themselves as standouts. Whether tackling more modern fare like “Remember Me”, or more traditionally melodic songs like “Moonchild”, there's a phenomenal blend of heavy riffing and soaring melody. I can't tell you how rare it is to hear a progressive metal band that is so in tune with melody, and can write songs that could stand up if they were stripped down to the chord structure and the vocals. We get an example of that with the duet ballad, “The Song That You Deserved”, a largely piano and voice song that is as beautiful as it is heart-breaking. Ascendia's ear for songs is excellent, and that is what makes “The Lion And The Jester” such an engaging listen. Song after song, there's a warm and inviting chorus waiting to wrap its arms around you after you've heard the heavy and intricate moments.This year has been off to a ridiculously great start, with at least half a dozen legitimately great records having already come my way. Add “The Lion And The Jester” to that list, because Ascendia is making progressive metal the way it was always supposed to be. Both challenging and gratifying, intense and cathartic, “The Lion And The Jester” is a phenomenal piece of work that reminds me of the very best progressive metal I've ever heard. This is an album you need to hear.Oh, and how awesome is that cover art? That is one album that will look as good as it sounds in a collection." - Bloody Good Horror
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  • US/Italian progressive power metal fronted by a vocalist with amazing skills (and very long hair!).
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  • Latest from this US band that is one of the best in the doom metal genre. While Heaven Wept incorporate a variety of progressive influences into their brand of doom. They have a significant love for some of the heavier 70s German prog bands like Jane (they actually covered a Jane tune on a previous album). Think in terms of Candlemass with a heavy dose of early Fates Warning. High quality stuff.
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  • After all these years, Marillion guitarist Steve Rothery has finally released a solo album and frankly it isn't at all what I expected.  First off the album is all instrumental (not a bad thing frankly).  Don't expect insane shredding here.  Rothery presents a very refined symphonic rock album that, to these ears, owes a big debt to Pink Floyd.  Steve Hackett and Steven Wilson appear as guests and that is a nice plus but to be honest even without their contributions the album would satisfy anyway.  Rothery has put together a nice band, drawing musicians from British neoproggers Mr. So & So and Italian symphonic band Ranestrane.  Expect  mellow parts that meld with sections that have an electrified smoldering intensity.  As long as you don't expect an instrumental Clutching At Straws I think you'll find a lot to dig your teeth into here.  Highly recommended."Steve Rothery is best known as guitarist for those whipping boys of the mainstream press, the progressive rock band Marillion. For over 30 years, Marillion have surprised and delighted fans old and new with some truly outstanding music. Musical fashions have come and gone, governments have formed and fractured… and Marillion are still here, not just unbowed but positively revelling in their role as eternal underdogs, having now delivered more than 15 studio albums of tremendously well-wrought and highly emotive music. The cornerstone of Marillion’s music, perhaps, is Steve Rothery’s elegaic guitar. Influenced by players such as Pink Floyd’s David Gilmour and Camel’s Andrew Latimer but with a style all his own, Rothery – as the longest-serving member of the band – is in many ways the core of the band and one of its chief writers.Yet in all those 30-plus years, Rothery has never released a solo record. He has enjoyed a largely-acoustic based side project in the shape of The Wishing Tree, who have now released two albums (1996’s Carnival Of Souls and 2009’s Ostara), but has never released an album under his own name. Until now. A strikingly successful Kickstarter campaign – for a brief time, the Ghosts Of Pripyat pre-order was the most successful Kickstarter project in the world – has allowed Rothery the time and supporting talent to produce something very different to his day job; yet familiar enough to fans of Marillion to forge a strong link to Rothery’s work in that band.Whilst The Ghosts Of Pripyat is a solo album in name, Rothery has assembled a strong band to record it. A reflection of the strength of the band is that two previous live albums that Rothery has released in the run up to the release of this, his first studio album, were billed as being by ‘The Steve Rothery Band’. The band form a next-generation progressive rock supergroup of sorts: Dave Foster (Mr. So & So, Panic Room) on guitars, Leon Parr (ex-Mr. So & So) on drums, Yatim Halimi (Panic Room) on bass and Riccardo Romano (Ranestrane) on keys & acoustic guitar. Throughout the album they add further colour and crunch to Rothery’s instrumental flights of fancy, giving it an appealing earthbound energy.The album opens in almost cinematic style with ‘Morpheus’. Marillion fans will delight in the way this track builds with an almost sensual slowness from barely audible ambient wash to a circling riff comprised of Rothery’s signature guitar sound, a crystalline chorused sustain that is powerfully evocative in its simplicity. ‘Morpheus’ is half over before the band puts its full weight behind Rothery’s playing, but this is one of this album’s strengths. It is not a ornate shred-fest, nor is it a somnolent none-more-authentic bore; the music – like Rothery’s playing – is effortlessly melodic and atmospheric, almost a film soundtrack without a film. It is here that Rothery’s fondness for the playing of Genesis guitarist Steve Hackett is most evident, and it’s entirely fitting that Hackett himself makes a guest appearance on this track. The two veteran guitarists trade off against each other beautifully, as if they’ve been playing together for years.Like any good soundtrack, each part of the album is very different in tone. Where ‘Morpheus’ was dreamy and reflective, ‘Kendris’ toys with a rolling, almost African-style drum pattern. Romano’s keys are especially important to this track, colouring in the backdrop to a musical safari whose shimmering heat haze makes for a warm, feelgood part of the album. This contrasts wonderfully with ‘The Old Man Of The Sea’, which is in many ways the centrepiece of the album. A near 12-minute track, it covers a range of moods very effectively. Opening with wave sounds, whale song and a mournful, lonely guitar fed through a Leslie effects pedal, it sounds beautifully Floydian – an effect only magnified when Rothery’s more familiar signature sound emerges to pick up the story. From these tentative but wonderfully evocative beginnings, the track gradually builds in intensity, musically and emotionally until it becomes as powerfully elemental as the sea that is its muse. The closing section in particular is one of the feistiest things that Rothery has committed to tape recently, featuring some forthright riffing built on top of a powerful performance by the assembled musicians, notably the muscular rhythm section of Halimi and Parr. In mood and subject matter, ‘The Old Man Of The Sea’ sits comfortably alongside Marillion’s epic ‘Ocean Cloud’. Steve Hackett makes another guest appearance at the end, as does progressive rock wunderkind Steven Wilson – with Rothery’s presence, there are essentially three generations of progressive rock’s finest all delivering some great playing; a rare treat.‘White Pass’ was inspired by a treacherous icy path used by prospectors during the American gold rush, and its steadily rising tension is perfectly matched to its subject matter. A chugging, almost metallic riff crunches in midway through the track, the ideal accompaniment to this immersive tale of survival in a hostile environment. You can almost taste the icy chill of the howling winter winds. ‘Yesterday’s Hero’ also builds slowly, although the mood is almost antithetical to ‘White Pass': the track – a remembrance of Rothery’s late stepfather, a World War II veteran – forms a delicate and deeply emotive elegy that displays some of the most restrained playing on the album. Here, more than anywhere else, Rothery evokes the feel of mid-period Dire Straits, the gentle washes of keys and E-bowed guitar building to an affectionate but achingly sad solo that Mark Knopfler would have been extremely pleased with. This is the essence of Rothery’s playing, bottled in concentrated form: less is most definitely more. The closing two minutes display another marked influence, as the band dial up the blissful introspection into a dynamic gallop, accompanied by some very Latimer-esque playing, as Rothery tips his hat to another formative influence. Perhaps understandably the most intensely moving track, this is very special indeed.The penultimate track, ‘Summer’s End’, is another slow-burner, building from a sleepy, bucolic opening into an organ-driven hard rock riff that powers along, with a number of solos built over it, as Rothery trades some intense workouts with Foster, both of them clearly egging the other on to greater and greater heights. The magnificent atmospherics of ‘The Old Man Of The Sea’ and the emotional intensity of ‘Yesterday’s Hero’ are hard to top, but if the restraint shown on the rest of the album leave you longing for heads-down rock and roll, here it is.The closing title track was inspired by photographs of the now deserted town of Pripyat in Chernobyl. After the nuclear accident there in 1986, the town was abandoned after radioactivity rendered the region uninhabitable. Reclaimed by nature, Pripyat makes for an eerie monument to those who died, and the displaced workers whose lives have never been the same. That same uncanny sense of loss and aftermath informs the track, which almost serves as an epilogue to the album. Rothery and Foster, joined by Romano on 12-string acoustic, build a slowly expanding web of limpid acoustic lines, almost like a musical round that becomes more ornate as it develops. The rest of the band arrive a few minutes later, developing the pattern of the round into a cyclical, almost Zeppelinesque riff. In five minutes the track goes from reverent near-silence into a muscular rocker, and you barely notice it happening; it feels effortless, utterly uncontrived.It’s striking, on an entirely instrumental album written and produced by a guitarist, how few solos there are on this album given its running time. Rothery’s economy is admirable in that it is never forced; this is just how he takes care of business. That in itself is one of the reasons he is so beloved as a guitarist: yes, he can be truly devastating when delivering a solo; yes, he can crank out a chunky riff with the best of them; but his playing is always in the service of the piece. His reliably deft hands deliver not riffs or solos so much as they paint with six strings. Here, freed from the constraints of delivering songs – as in Marillion and The Wishing Tree – those sound paintings are given centre stage 100% of the time, and it’s testament to Rothery’s abilities as a player and a writer that the results never fail to hold your attention.Those familiar with Rothery’s work in and out of Marillion have waited a long time for his first solo album, but it has most definitely been worth the wait. Richly atmospheric, dynamic, emotive and beautifully recorded and mixed, The Ghosts Of Pripyat is everything that those who waited for it with baited breath were hoping for. For everyone else, the album is a stunning showcase for one of the UK’s least-acknowledged guitar maestros; the perfect introduction to a talent whose indefatigable muse continues to serve up some truly extraordinary music." - Echoes & Dust
    $12.00
  • "Annysia is a Symphonic Power Metal band from Spain, led by lead vocalist, Rose Mack. The obligatory instrumental, The Essence Of A New Born Star is a well written one, that builds up tension in the beginning of the disc much like a movie soundtrack to an epic battle movie. The operatic stylings of Mack can be heard immediately over a harpischord-laden keyboard effect before the rest of the band kicks in. She definitely has a style of her own, and the music behind her is well played. The highest range of her vocals on this song, show her range, though I think an octave lower is more in her power range. The guitar solo on the other hand sounds out of place, but it may be the production of the song,. Nephilim starts out much in the same vein, though the vocals during the verses are a little more subdued and similar to Liv Kristine in Leave's Eyes. The growly/black metal vocals on this particular song don't do much for me here. The brief but arppegio-laden guitar solo is again well played, and a better fit here. Battle of Mystics is the first track I heard from the band, and honestly the vocal gymnastics in the beginning and during parts of the song, show Mack's talent, but they are done a little too much for my taste, though the song itself is very good. Actually musically this is probably my favorite track on the disc Demontia is a track I could not get into, but musically is not a bad song. Fairysins though, features Mack and a soft piano. Her vocals on this song shows her unique tone, and her wheelhouse when it comes to her range. This song is actually quite beautiful. The epic-ness of Valkyrie is not just in its almost nine minute length, but the music as well. Mack commands her range throughout the entire song, and the twin guitar lead melody is well played. I am not sure if I like the lead tone of the guitar that much, its a little fuzzy for my taste, but the musicianship is definitely there. The previously mentioned death/black metal vocals make an appearance here, and again does nothing for me except take away from Mack's solid performance.Again the fuzzy guitar tone comes back on the beginning of Redemption though when it meshes with the symphonic parts it does not sound as bad. Straying from her operatic range for most the song, Mack shows that she can again, subdue her range, even on a much faster song. The ability for her to sing like this, without her sounding like she is singing in a monotone is a compliment to her abilities. Lost Soul is another piano song, showing the sweeping vocals of Mack. The expression “Less is more,” best explains her vocals on this song, and it was definitely the right call. The instrumental of Captain's Song shows her bandmates definitely have talent themselves, and it is a pretty damn good instrumental. Another standout song is the mid paced, Pirates Of The Sea. The male operatic vocals are too low in the mix to be heard clear enough, though they are much better than the “Blackened” ones of earlier. Nivek is next, and is another epic song in its song structure. For the seven minutes it runs, it pretty much hits all the right marks. With headphones on though, Mack's vocals could have been produced a little better,and be heard a little louder. Much like the disc begins, it ends with an instrumental track, an outro.While the imperfections do come to head when you hear the disc as a whole, Annysia's debut is actually a well written, if only inconsistently produced disc. The disc does have its highs, with strong songwriting and Mack's powerhouse vocals. I do believe in some songs, the band is trying to be as epic as possibly when possibly a little more restrain could have been used. Again most of this criticism is personal opinion, and every listener will have their own opinion. As a whole, this is a great start for a new band, who is obviously full of talented musicians. Let us hope for a label to find the band, and for stronger production values next time." - Metal Review
    $13.00
  • "With their 2013 debut “Back With A Vengeance”, MASTERS OF DISGUISE filled the musical gap left behind by the demise of Savage Grace almost 30 years previously. Two years later the successor CD “The Savage And The Grace” was ready, building on its predecessor in classical style and which again is sure to set the pulses of speed freaks racing. The album again honours the true Speed Metal spirit of the Eighties without sounding antiquated or dusty. Classic US Speed Metal, taken another step upwards by several typical, fast Euro-Metal characteristics make the eleven tracks a real ride through speed hell."
    $15.00