Magellan - Test Of Wills

Year of Release: 1997
Label: Magna Carta
Catalog Number: MA 9008-2
Format: CD
Total Time: 53:44:00

While it is a bit daunting reviewing an album with a track entitled "Critics Carnival," which seems to take a dim view of critics - at least those that try to categorize and fit music into neat little slots, we'll venture into it anyway.

This is the best Magellan release so far. Their two previous albums, while containing excellent music, left a lot to be desired in the lyrical part. My criticism of Hour of Restoration was that the lyrics were less like lyrics and more like ... paragraphs, dry text. For good or ill (I say good), Test of Wills is a bit more accessible.

Magellan seemed influenced by a diverse set of predecessors - the obvious targets are Kansas, Jethro Tull, Rush, but the not so obvious is that you can throw Chicago into the mix. Yes, Chicago, the pop-jazz outfit big in the 70's and 80's.

This latter is mostly down to vocalist Trent Gardner's trombone sound, which is featured on the title track. It brings to mind "Only In The Beginning" or "No Tell Lover."

My favourite track here is poignant, cynical, but dead-on "Walk Fast, Look Worried." Beginning with a rich guitar arpeggio, this song moves through several moods. I think any parent (or anyone) has had their child (or any child) ask questions like the one posed in this track: "Will I ever be as old as you?" There is a balancing act between telling the truth and telling them what they should hear. That balance is nicely illustrated, though not overt, in this song.

Don't mistake sentimentalism for softness - Magellan rock hard, almost relentlessly on the title track. Their sound is big, and any follower of modern hard progressive rock will find parallels musically with Threshhold or Landmarq, for example.

Test of Wills comes highly recommended and is on my list for the best of late '97/early '98.

Gameface (4:30) / A Social Marginal (7:28) / Walk Fast, Look Worried (5:54) / Test Of Wills (11:28) / Bully Pulpit (Part 1) (2:01) / Jacko (4:23) / Crucible (4:49) / Preaching The Converted (5:30) / Critics Carnival (9:01)

Trent Gardner - lead vocals, keyboards, trombone
Wayne Gardner - guitars, basses, backing vocals
Brad Kaiser - drums and percussion

Hour of Restoration (1991)
Impending Ascension (1994)
Test of Wills (1997)
Hundred Year Flood (2002)
Impossible Figures (2003)
Symphony For A Misanthrope (2005)
Innocent God (2007)

Genre: Progressive Rock

Origin US

Added: August 11th 1998
Reviewer: Stephanie Sollow
Hits: 1065
Language: english


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