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Magellan - Test Of Wills CD (album) cover

TEST OF WILLS

Magellan

 

Heavy Prog

3.53 | 123 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

progaeopteryx
Prog Reviewer
4 stars Test of Wills was Magellan's third studio album and showed a drastic shift in their overall sound. Instead of the symphonic driven prog of their first two albums, Magellan moved more towards prog metal as the driving force behind their music. Test of Wills is filled with numerous metal riffs, often quirky just like their rhythms from prior albums. The unfortunate side effect of this was that the dominant keyboards of Trent Gardner took a back seat, often only being used as backdrops.

The other changes in Magellan include the introduction of a real live drummer in the name of Brad Kaiser. He fills the role admirably, but at the same time, some of the quirkiness of Magellan has been lost as the programmed drums of prior albums were a major reason for the said quirkiness. Bassist Hal Stringfellow Imbrie apparently departed prior to this album, thus Trent's brother Wayne Gardner takes over the bass work. He is as skilled on bass as he is on guitar, so it's an improvement. And to top it off, Trent takes on trombone duties adding another dimension to Magellan's new sound.

Although I thoroughly miss the dominant keyboards from Impending Ascension, I must say that I enjoyed listening to Test of Wills. The guitar riffs are often catchy and it's nice to see a young band diversify itself by taking on new styles and adding them to their resumé. The important thing in introducing new influences is that you don't completely abandon your roots. I'm afraid Magellan may have made the shift too suddenly for my little brain to handle. Still, I liked this album very much.

Right from the beginning, Magellan starts off with some cool guitar riffs on the opener Gameface. Although the song seems like it should have gone on longer and has that feeling of incompleteness, it's a catchy beginning. Things really take off with the complex A Social Marginal and then lead into the Jethro Tull inspired Walk Fast, Look Worried. This is a beautiful song and the closest Magellan could ever come to recording a progressive rock ballad. The title track continues the power that was previously presented on A Social Marginal, but less complex. From here on the album seems to dive into mediocrity in places. Jacko is again inspired by Jethro Tull, but not in the same league as Walk Fast, Look Worried. Crucible sounds like an awkward prog-dance song if you could imagine such a thing and I'm still wondering what the point of that song was. The album ends with Critic's Carnival which sounds more like the old Magellan, but of course with a harder edge and lacking the keyboards we had been accustomed to on their previous two albums.

Even though I don't think this is nearly as good as Impending Ascension and am not fond of Magellan's change in musical direction, I still think this a great album worthy of four stars. A mix of quirky prog metal with Jethro Tull influences and about a third of the album showing signs of the old Magellan. If that sounds interesting to you, go ahead and give it a try.

progaeopteryx | 4/5 |

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