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Magellan Symphony For A Misanthrope album cover
3.12 | 100 ratings | 17 reviews | 14% 5 stars

Good, but non-essential

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Studio Album, released in 2005

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Symphonette (Instrumental) (2:51)
2. Why Water Weeds? (8:31)
3. Wisdom (4:24)
4. Cranium Reef Suite (18:05)
- I - Part One: "Youthful Enthusiasm"
- II - Part Two: "Psych 101"
- III - Part Three: "Primal Defense"
5. Pianissimo Intermission (Instrumental) (2:08)
6. Doctor Concoctor (4:13)
7. Every Bullet Needs Blood (6:42)

Total time 46:54

Line-up / Musicians

- Wayne Gardner / guitar, bass, keyboards, backing vocals
- Trent Gardner / keyboards, trombone, lead vocals, composer & producer

- Steve Walsh / keyboards (1)
- Dave Mannion / keyboards (1)
- Joe Franco / drums, orchestral percussion
- Robert Berry / drums & bass(2)
- Jeff Curtis / arrangements

Releases information

CD Inside Out Music ‎- IOMCD 206 (2005, Germany)

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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MAGELLAN Symphony For A Misanthrope ratings distribution

(100 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(14%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(31%)
Good, but non-essential (42%)
Collectors/fans only (8%)
Poor. Only for completionists (4%)

MAGELLAN Symphony For A Misanthrope reviews

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Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by lor68
2 stars Well this time you could also give it an inferior score,especially if you're not completely into the modern progressive metal genre!! Sorry, but for me this is not an improvement of ideas in comparison to "Impossible figures": in fact rather than develop their music harmony better-even though always within their usual bombastic progressive metal style- Gardner & C. prefer to look for a new style: that's their attempt to make the classical music an affair for prog metal fans and such consideration let me be disappointed so much!!Perhaps Trent Gardner tries to emulate Mr Jordan Rudess, but at the end the result is not so remarkable...ok the keyboards of Steve Walsh in "Symphonette" (the first instrumental of the album) and also the modern approach in the execution of a few melodic songs, but in all the other circumstances the epic style suffers from a reasonable lack of depth , above all inside the plot of their mini -suite divided into three parts.Therefore I was expected to find excellent pacthes at the keyboards, as I'm not in the habit to accept the lack of dynamics and music colours...but this is my personal idea and I don't like to affect the opinion of the common listener. "Wisdom" is an obligatory ballad (another common place inside the "metal" music)and it's disappointing, as well as the track "Why Water Weeds?", full of annoying patches and poor ideas...probably the fans of bands such as Arena will be attracted by this work;otherwise you could remain a bit irritated, cause of so many tiresome solos!!

Make your own choice!!

Review by TheProgtologist
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars American prog mastermind Trent Gardner has been releasing quality albums for almost 15 years now. If it's not with his multi-instrumentalist brother Wayne, with whom he already issued 5 albums under the Magellan moniker, it's with one of the giant projects he set up during the years, such as Leonardo and Explorer's Club. In 2003, when "Impossible Figures" followed only a year after "Hundred Year Flood", the Gardner brothers increased their album releasing tempo, which is still at full force in 2005, as they have just delivered their sixth album. Poetically entitled "Symphony For A Misanthrope", the disc builds further upon the traditional, ultra-solid Magellan foundations of complex and original progressive rock with a straight link to the seventies. Gardner, mostly singing and playing keyboards himself, has worked with the greatest on earth including the likes of James LaBrie (Dream Theater), Steve Walsh (Kansas, Streets) and Tony Levin (King Crimson) and is never too shy to gather guest musicians for a new album. This time he came up with the following list: Robert Berry (3, Alliance, Hush and now Ambrosia) on drums and guitars, Joe Franco (Widowmaker, The Ladder) on drums, Steve Walsh on keyboards, Stephen Imbler on piano and Dave Manion on keyboards. The song material is typical of Magellan, but always versatile enough. The only negative thing I can think of is the length of "Cranium Reef Suite", with its 18 minutes and counting a bit too long and repetitive in my opinion. Among the other tracks there's something for everyone: the melodic and complex "Why Water Weeds?", the thoughtful ballad "Wisdom", the instrumental "Pianissimo Intermission", the quite heavy mouthful "Doctor Concoctor" and finale "Every Bullet Needs Blood", which - just as "Why Water Weeds?" - leans towards traditional Magellan. If you're acquainted with the Gardner's work and like it, you can consider "Symphony For A Misanthrope" a definite purchase. If you still have to get into the band, you might want to start with one of their earlier albums. A good effort but not essential,3 stars.
Review by ClemofNazareth
2 stars Well this thing was kind of a disappointment! The brothers Gardner deliver another slightly awkward blend of artistic prog and lukewarm metal that ends up not satisfying either camp. The trappings are all there – great cover art, promising title, and an all- star cast featuring Widowmaker’s Joe Franco, Steve Walsh of Kansas, Ambrosia’s drummer, and Dave Mannion (okay, I have no idea who this guy is, but considering Trent Gardner’s ability to attract star talent to his many projects, the guy must be someone important).

I’ll admit I only bought this as a completion piece for my ridiculous collection of all things featuring anyone who ever was associated with Kansas - that’s how I ended up with Explorers Club and December People albums too :-o

But Walsh makes only a brief (though excellent) appearance, and that only on keyboards. That opening track is an auspicious beginning, but the rest of the album grows progressively bland and long before it ended the first time I played it I already knew I wouldn’t be leaving it in my disc changer for very long.

About a third of the album consists of the clumsily arranged “Cranium Reef Suite”, an epic length but unimpressive vocal and two-chord dirge that seems to go on forever (and I don’t mean that as a compliment). This is a track that could have benefited by both Walsh’s keyboard skills and his voice, as Trent Gardner has never been what I would consider a dominant vocal presence. There are several buildups with the guitar and keyboards throughout this song, and all of them are building to nothing and for no apparent reason. Instead of musical explosions, most of these climaxes culminate in more of Trent’s tepid vocals. I really can’t even figure out what this song is about, and have no desire to actually work my way through the lyrics sheet to find out.

The rest of the album is comprised of mercifully shorter works, including the eighties throwback “Doctor Concoctor” and the unbelievably bland “Every Bullet Needs Blood”. To be honest I could use a bullet right about now myself.

The only saving grace besides Walsh’s keyboards is the slow number “Wisdom” with its languid but appealing guitar and suspiciously Everlast-sounding tempo.

This is the quintessential “for collectors only” album as far as I’m concerned. Gardner fans might like it, but probably nobody else. Two stars and not recommended.


Review by progaeopteryx
2 stars After have a string of mostly excellent to above-average albums dating back to 1991, I had high hopes that Trent Gardner would turn things around with Symphony for a Misanthrope, their sixth studio album. Their previous album, Impossible Figure, had its moments, but it was far less appealing then the previous four albums. The cover art and the track listing were really cool looking before I even popped it into my CD player. But you can't always judge something by the look of its cover, and sadly, that's just the case with Symphony for a Misanthrope.

At its best, this album sounds like a poorly mixed Jadis or Pallas album. I'm serious. This sounds more like those two bands than it does prog metal or even prior Magellan efforts. I'm glad to see more keyboard work on a Magellan album, but the performance is sub-par for Gardner and the choice of sounds used is bland and not mixed very well into the overall sound of each song. Gardner had shown some improvement in his vocals over their first four albums, but on Symphony for a Misanthrope he must have regressed to mediocrity. Further, his voice is often overwhelmed by the instrumentation and it seems he can no longer soar his voice at the moments it should (or maybe he just forgot?). It's true that his voice is not the most glamorous, but I always thought he did a fairly nice job, admitting that it takes some getting used to. But on this album, it's more of a distraction. The repetitive verses are also an annoyance. These songs may have been better off as instrumentals.

Again, guests make appearances. These include Steve Walsh (Kansas), Dave Manion (keyboardist and engineer who has worked with Kansas and Seventh Key), Joe Franco (Good Rats, Twisted Sister, Widowmaker), Stephen Imbler, and Robert Berry (Hush, 3, Ambrosia). None of these guests contributed anything that would have brought this album out of mediocrity. Steve Walsh only contributed keyboard work on the short intro and doesn't even perform any kind of vocals. For me, the only interesting track is Pianissimo Intermission which was based Bach. Strangely enough, the entire track is performed by guest pianist Stephen Imbler. Is Trent getting lazy in his older years?

A very poor effort this time and quite a disappointment. At best I can only give this two stars, although a one-star rating had crossed my mind several times. For collectors/fans only.

Review by b_olariu
3 stars From the begging i could say easily this is weaker than Impossible figures, the prefious one. So the music from here is good but less captivatig than previouses releases. Not very much to add but some of the pieces stars very good, example is the longest piese from here Cranium Reef Suite - the intro from this piece is realy awesome, symphonic music at the best but after 3-4 minutes is absolute a desaster, only boring moments and to much bla -bla, sad. Other ex is Doctor Concoctor, again a total boring piece. Some good pieces are by far from this album Why water weeds and the last track Every bullet needs blood. All in all i can say this is a good album but with fillers, Not among Magellan's best albums, in stad of this one i could easy choose Impossible figures or Impending ascension as the best albums of Magellan. None of the albums of Magellan stands as masterpieces or something close, but for sure some of them needs attention, So for this one 2.5 rounded to 3, steel enjoyble in places, but not recommanded at all.
Review by progrules
4 stars Apparently this one of those intriguing albums that causes all kinds of ratings and opinions. I like that because it's always interesting to let people know where you stand. But what mainly surprises me is that none of the prog reviewers can really appreciate it. With this statement I'm already revealing what my opinion is and that is a very postive one.

But first something else: This is my first album from this band and when I heard it a few times I was sure this band had to be placed in the heavy prog category (maybe that also had to do with Explorers Club, a Trent Gardner project) but they appeared to be in crossover. Later on I bought two other albums by Magellan and I have to say: crossover is the right category in the end. What I'm trying to say is that this is probably their haviest album. And that is actually caused by the impressive and dominant epic on this release. Cranium reef suite (4,25*) is over 18 minutes pretty rough stuff, one of my favourite epics from recent years. And guess what: it isn't even my favourite track on the album. That honour is for the second song of the album, Why water weeds (4,5*). What a terrific song this is ! Probably the best Magellan song ever although I have to achieve a lot of their other albums to know that for sure of course. But I think this song can only be evened by another, not surpassed. I dare say that. Two other (short) songs are more or less classical, the opening Symphonette (3,5*) and the Pianissimo Intermission (3,5*) both sounding very nice as well. Wisdom (3,5*) and Doctor Concoctor (3,25*) are good songs as well so that leaves the final song to be my least favourite one (3*).

So anyone who can do a bit of maths know what this means. It can only be 4 stars, be it rounded up (3,65).

Review by ZowieZiggy
2 stars The early days of the band were quite alright ("Hour Of Restoration" and "Impending Ascension"). The long pieces from these albums were quite well achieved and were really attractive. What came after was much less performing.

What would this sixth album (in fourteen years) delivered?

Some classical introduction (somewhat ELP-ish) that can be easily skipped ("Symphonette"), a "Kansas" oriented song ("Why Water Weeds?") but lacking in some splendour of the great model (of which Steve Walsh is playing during the opener).

The best number so far is the short "Wisdom": it features aerial (almost symphonic ) keyboards and some very and convincing vocals. A simple and straight forward song but which consists of some fine elements.

As I have mentioned earlier, epics like "Magna Carta" or "Estadium Nacional" were their best songs ever written and I was quite interested to know if they could perform at the same level with "Cranium Reef Suite". An eighteen minutes epic which opens as a short pop tune will do. I was quite suspect after this short intro to say the least.

What follows in this "Cranium?" is very much of a neo-prog affair. But there is nothing wrong in playing neo-prog, right? At least if a band can take some distance from the glorious predecessors and sound somewhat original.

This song is throwing a bunch of basic keys tones combined with average vocals. Not quite a thrilled mix alas. Again, "Kansas" is the reference apparently. But not the best of this great band, unfortunately. Such eighteen minutes are quite long even if some parts (like the closing guitar) are quite decent.

"Symphony For A Misanthrope" holds many more neo prog aspects (even symphonic ones with the short and classical "Pianissimo Intermission") than heavy prog or metal ones. What I would say though, is that there is a great lack of originality on this album. " Doctor Concoctor" is a real pain to my ears.

Some heavier lines can be experienced during the closing track whose title is not an example of subtlety: " Every Bullet Needs Blood". Again, the "Kansas" feel is much present. Almost pastiche even if the song isn't bad at all.

I don't feel like rating this album as a good one. Average is more the trend. Two stars.

Review by Andy Webb
3 stars This is progressive rock alright

Magellan and its frontman Trent Gardner are interesting figures in the history of progressive rock. Gardner has been writing and releasing music with his band (along with his bandmate brother Wayne) since the early 90s, and all of it has been relatively similar, with strong and obvious influences from pretty much all of the big prog bands, which makes much of Gardner music quite cliché in the scheme of prog rock, as Symphony for a Misanthrope exemplifies. Taking strong elements of progressive metal, symphonic prog, and various other tidbits of prog, Gardner crafts one of the most well-crafted typical prog albums of the last decade - the album contains its fix of symphonic grandiosity, cruising technical riffing, complex structures, huge synths and keyboards, and the essential epic 18 minute long track. The album's lyrics are also quite typical to prog rock, with a loose concept which, as the title of the album makes apparent, is a rather cynical and dark view on humanity and its future, which raises philosophical and even political questions throughout the album. Overall, the album is in no way bad, with Gardner executing one of his great progressive projects superbly; the album's only real flaw is it's quite cliché!

The music ranges from lighter symphonic prog-based rock to heavy Dream Theater-esque progressive metal, making the album a true exemplifier of prog rock at its most pretentious. The songs are meticulously composed with numerous shifting moods and sections within songs, changing time signatures, and more which I'm sure any fan of progressive rock could just guess and get it correct. The 18 minute "Cranium Reef Suite" is typical in its linear structure, pretty hectic mood shifts, and various movements within. The boys even tip their hats to Back with the lifting of the "Pianissimo Intermission" from his composition archives. The other songs each have their own unique little qualities, with the Adrian Belew- esque intense "Doctor Concoctor" or the Dream Theater-esque "Why Water Weeds" (a personal favorite of mine). Overall, the entire album is a wonderful tribute to the vast world of progressive rock, which Gardner shows his obvious affection for with his innumerable contribution with other projects, collaborations, and tributes.

In the end the album is very good. It may have already been done by countless other progressive artists, but Magellan certainly knows how to put an interesting Gardner-esque spin on it. Gardner still used his cheesy keyboard voices to execute his symphonic excesses (the worst showing is on the opening "Symphonette," which exemplifies his obsession with pretending to be an orchestra). Other than that, the album has very few flaws, with the music being some of Gardner best songs, as the album contains two Magellan favorites of mine - "Why Water Weeds" and "Every Bullet Needs Blood." Although the album may not be their best in originality, the album certainly is a wonderful showing for the San Francisco-based heavy prog act. 3+ stars.

Review by Gatot
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars I started to know Magellan when they released their Impending Ascencions album which I recalled it as a discrete music as so many sudden changes throughout its composition. But this album released in 2005 sounds differently especially with many uses of keyboard played in a symphonic style. Even though I find it difficult to find differences in styles from one track to another but this album is an enjoyable one to listen - especially the keyboard punch. The Gardner brothers tend to use the keyboard as rhythm section instead of inventive solos.

The opening Symphonette (instrumental) is captivating and quite long duration-wise. It does not actually transfer smoothly when it enters into Why Water Weeds? even though it's quite not fit with the opening instrumental - but the second track is quite enjoyable, relying much on keyboard-drenched style. The one that actually should require much attention is the epic Cranium Reef Suite which comprises three parts: "Youthful Enthusiasm", "Psych 101", and "Primal Defense". Well, this epic is really worth for having this album as prog collection as it flows nicely from one segment to another and nice transition from one part to another. The piano solo after the epic "Pianissimo Intermission (instrumental)" is an interesting classical outfit. "Doctor Concoctor" might be considered as progressive metal track as the opening riffs indicate this kind of music. The album concludes nicely with relatively medium tempo track "Every Bullet Needs Blood"- followed with energetic singing.

It's a good symphonic prog album with not so complicated arrangements and it makes it accessible to many ears. Keep on proggin' ...!

Peace on earth and mercy mild - GW

Latest members reviews

5 stars Trent and Wayne GARDNER and its brother create a disc as or it hoped that it was, different from his predecessor this is not the exception in his previous works EXPLORER´S CLUB or LEONARDO, which the more I like is the combination that obtains the Trent GARNER, that combination that can be obt ... (read more)

Report this review (#88646) | Posted by Shelket | Friday, September 1, 2006 | Review Permanlink

3 stars There are moments here that make you feel good. There are moments when the music really works. But unfortunately they are short moments and there are too few of them. Mostly this album is just too loud. Too must of everything allthetime and together. There is no air to breath. This is exhausti ... (read more)

Report this review (#73925) | Posted by pirkka | Monday, April 3, 2006 | Review Permanlink

3 stars Symphony for a Misanthrope is my first Magellan CD. I must say I was surprised by the sound, very symphonic, and the only metal part is in "Doctor Concoctor". Because of what I heard on this album, this is not prog metal, for me, it's symphonic prog. The record has some good moments, like th ... (read more)

Report this review (#69334) | Posted by Martín | Tuesday, February 14, 2006 | Review Permanlink

3 stars Trent Gardner, popular through masses of projects, e.g. "Explorer's Club", released, in cooperation with his brother, Wayne Gardner, who played the guitars, bass and added some backing vocals, a new studio release for the band Magellan, founded by the 2 brothers. Different from their last albu ... (read more)

Report this review (#61168) | Posted by W.Chuck | Wednesday, December 21, 2005 | Review Permanlink

5 stars I`m going to take a bold step and rate this CD a little higher than its average star rating. The lyrics are some of Trent Gardners best to date. His social comentry is poeticaly sarcastic and very profound to which I fully enjoy! There is a good variety of songs each differant and after Five play ... (read more)

Report this review (#43272) | Posted by Trouble X | Thursday, August 18, 2005 | Review Permanlink

3 stars Actually this is the first Magellan's album which I can enjoy in its entirety, and it is their best so far. All previous were rather dull and boring, with only one or two good tracks per each album, and Trent's vocalises can be just annoying. This one is different, and the first track (which i ... (read more)

Report this review (#34348) | Posted by eugene | Tuesday, May 31, 2005 | Review Permanlink

5 stars I've read both the previous reviews of SFAM and frankly, I don't know what the two previous reviewers here are talking about... There's not much use in comparing the albums with Magellan's previous work because true to form they never put out the same sounding album twice. For people who don't ... (read more)

Report this review (#34347) | Posted by garrett | Sunday, April 24, 2005 | Review Permanlink

3 stars This is a difficult review to write. I've had a strange history with Magellan. The first several albums were more piss-take entertainment than anything... what crazy thing will Trent Gardner do next? Granted, it was *good* piss-take entertainment, with lots of excellent moments... but there ... (read more)

Report this review (#34345) | Posted by | Monday, April 18, 2005 | Review Permanlink

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