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Magellan Test Of Wills album cover
3.53 | 133 ratings | 17 reviews | 19% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
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Studio Album, released in 1997

Songs / Tracks Listing

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

Total Time: 53:44

Line-up / Musicians

- Wayne Gardner / electric & acoustic guitars, bass, backing Vocals
- Trent Gardner / keyboards, trombone, lead vocals, composer

- Brad Kaiser / drums, percussion

Releases information

Artwork: 4D Advertising

CD Magna Carta ‎- MA-9008-2 (1997, US)

LP Jigu Records ‎- JRPL-1056 (1994, South Korea )

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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MAGELLAN Test Of Wills ratings distribution

(133 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(19%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(44%)
Good, but non-essential (24%)
Collectors/fans only (8%)
Poor. Only for completionists (5%)

MAGELLAN Test Of Wills reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Cesar Inca
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars For their third effort 'Test of Wills', Magellan expanded their sonic pallet by reinforcing their heavy rock side, specially when it comes to the increase of loud guitar riffs that come to the fore almost all the time (perhaps anticipating Explorer's Club?) and powerful rhythm patterns. The latter factor is decissively instilled by the presence of a human drummer/percussionist, an excellent Brad Kaiser. The opening track is a perfect example of this main direction: the thing goes on in 'A Social Marginal' and the namesake track. The three of them are in my opinion the highlights of this album. To a somewhat lesser degree, the same hard rock drive is preserved in the catchy 'Crucible' and the closing number 'Critic's Carnival' (maybe an uncredited flute part by Ian Anderson?). Having described the most prominent tone, let me add that there's still room for other sonic sources. 'Walk Fast, Look Worried' is acoustically based, in an overall folky/almost bluesy ambience. 'Bully Pulpit' is a weird brief instrumental that serves as an effective prelude to the symphonic piano based number 'Jacko'. 'Preaching the Converted' kind of lifts off from where Phil Collins' 'Take Me Home' got stucked, refurbishing it in a genuine prog manner: this would have made an impressive single, actually, but again, let's not forget that prog rock is a genre doomed to remain marginalized in the big market and uncleverly managed by most music businessmen. Well, in a few words, 'Test of Wills' is an amazing prog recording. On a personal note, I must confess that an extra dose of appreciation comes from teh fact that this recording was my fiest Magellan experience.
Review by Bj-1
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Magellan's third album "Test of Wills" is a bit different from their two first albums. The most significant difference beign the lack of the Symphonic Prog influences featured on their two first albums, and heading into a full prog-metal-ish terretory. The lyrics aren't so historical influenced anymore and the arrangements are less personal and harder around the edges. However, the album is still good and many of the songs are incredibly good. The title track for example is no exception. "Walk Fast, Look Worried" is a beautiful ballad and is Magellan's first one too. It stands as one of the best tracks one the disc if you ask me. My overall opinion on the album first time I listened to it was that it wasn't a disappointment by any means, it just was a bit different. I recommend it if you like this band. 4/5
Review by apps79
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars By mid-90's Magellan had basically become a full-time studio project, not involved in live gigs, which the band abandoned after some dates between the first two albums.And that came despite the fact they added a regular drummer to the band named Brad Kaiser, characterized by the Gardner brothers as a ''human drum metronome''.On the other hand there was no bass player for the recordings of the third album and Wayne Gardner took the resposibility of providing also the bass lines.''Test of wills'', the band's third studio effort, came out in 1997 on Magna Carta.

This work finds Magellan in a transitional period, they presented a largely heavier sound compared to the previous albums, but they also kept many of the classic progressive qualities they loved so much.The addition of Kaiser made only good to the final result (he was also given space for a drum solo during the opening minutes of ''A social marginal'') with the drumming finally sounding all natural.Additionally ''Test of wills'' was Magellan's most complex effort so far, a display of odd time signatures, emphatic tempo changes and shifting climates in the style of old Prog groups, albeit a bit modernized.The heavy guitar rhythms and the powerful bass work provide a fresh style with a certain metallic edge at moments, but there are still some decent melodies and vintage keyboards to attract the listener of more Classic Prog adventures.Not to mention that the structures of the songs have much more to do with YES, KANSAS, GENESIS and GENTLE GIANT than to say Dream Theater: Electroacoustic passages, Hammond organ waves, sweet multi-vocal harmonies and symphonic, epic atmospheres.Trent Gardner also introduces the trombone to the sound of the band, a great surprise indeed and a fine way to use the marching and pompous sound of the instrument in the long title track.

Great work by the veteran brothers from California.Bombastic Heavy Prog with symphonic overtones and complicated instrumental and vocal parts.Strongly recommended...3.5 stars

Review by progaeopteryx
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.

Review by Mellotron Storm
3 stars What I like about this band is their song writing skills and humour. Of course they can play a bit as well (haha). This one has some heaviness to it which I like but it's not consistantly heavy. I still like "Impossible Figures" more than this one but there's lots to like here.

"Gameface" has this funny intro before some great riffs take over and vocals join in. I like the high pitched guitar on this one. "A Social Marginal" opens with a drum solo then heavy guitar comes in after a minute. Vocals before 2 1/2 minutes. I'm reminded of ECHOLYN at times on this one. Heavy before 5 minutes with synths then back the previous melody to end it. "Walk Fast, Look Worried" features acoustic guitar and vocals. Strings? after 2 1/2 minutes. It settles 4 1/2 minutes in.

"Test Of Wills" brings us back to the heaviness but we get some good contrasts here. Some horns in this one as well. This is my favourite track. "Bully Pulpit (Part 1)" is a 2 minute instrumental,kind of experimental. "Jacko" is a fun song with keys and vocals leading the way. "Crucible" is an uptempo track led by drums and vocals. Some heaviness 1 1/2 minutes in. Contrasts continue. "Preaching The Converted" is led by percussion and vocals throughout. "Critics Carnival" opens with flute? but it kicks in before a minute. Organ 2 minutes in. Vocals before 3 minutes. A funny sample before 5 minutes then it kicks back in.

An entertaining listen, lots of fun. 3.5 stars.

Review by ZowieZiggy
2 stars For the first time, the opening number of a "Magellan" album is not an epic nor one of the best tune from the album. Not that "Gameface" sounds bad, but the heavy metal edge sounds quite different to their previous and good works.

It is true to say that in their earlier albums, the epics (or longest numbers) were by far the best songs available. It is again the case on this "Test Of Wills". The band is leaning into the neo- prog territories (which has always be their main genre) with the good "Social Marginal".

Even if some Anderson type vocals can be experienced, this song holds good ingredients even if too much metal oriented to my taste. But I'm not a fan of this genre.

The band unfortunately investigates some more metal sound throughout this album (not "heavy prog" but metal stuff). The longer title track is clearly heading to this style. On top of this, there are some weak wind instrument appearance as well.

The band is now truly a brother's affair, and little to no input from outside seems to be involved. Even if they were omnipresent before this album (and essential to this band), I can only feel some weird performance with this album ("Jacko"). And I can't be thrilled by the awful "Crucible" to tell the truth: a funky to the dead track with little prog to be listened to.

"Magellan" could please during their first two albums (especially with their long songs), but this album is definitely not on par. I still rate it with two stars but I don't like this album. Below average and willing to cover too many different styles (even the "Genesis" while they were three is featured in" Preaching The Converted").

There are just some twenty seconds during which you might think that something great is taking place: a great flute intro fully reminiscent of the mighty Tull during the closing "Critics Carnival". Unfortunately, it is soonly ruined with these metal sounds. These flute sounds will come back much later in the song and be quite performing to be honest. I only would have wished these to be more present in the whole of this work.

I am quite critical about this carnival...although the closing number is quite good and fully "Kansas" oriented.

Just past your way, this is not a good work.

Review by b_olariu
4 stars Third album of their career named Test of wills from 1997 is a step forward in Magellan's musical adventure, this time the album must be considered a real test for them if for the public aswell. This time Magellan has lefting aside the symphonic/neo elements of previous two albums and concentreted more on heavy prog even in places prog metal at it's best are added. To me this is third as best after Impending ascension and Impossible figures, delivering some outstanding moments tipycal for Magellan sound but a little diffrent aswell. Again the influences are Yes and Kansas but this time are added more like Jethro Tull and even Rush. As on previous album s the epics, the longer tracks are the best same is the case here, the title track Test of wills must be considered a real prog metal piece with solid musicianship and crafty moments. The rest of the pieces are aswell great like, A social marginal again heavy prog with prog metal lening but same the symphonic elements are not forgotten but puted diffrent and melted very well with the rest, here is some realy awesome crunchy guitar riffs and excellent druming, the drum solo of the beggining of the piece is great. Some Jethro Tull elements are here like on Walk Fast, Look Worried , the beggining is almost the same with Dun Ringill from Stormwatch, same folky acustic atmosphere and on last track Critic's carnival with some flute who innterludes very well with the rst of the instruments, realy like the master Anderson, quite intristing and well executed. So a pleasent album for me, among their best in my opinion, even is more metalized as previous and next efforts Test of wills is a album to have if you like Magellan, the symphonic arrangements are in less quantity but they are and are melted very well with the overall sound of the band.Again 3.5 rounded up to 4, because as I said I have a soft spot for Magellan and is one of their better albums.
Review by Kazuhiro
4 stars The shade of meaning of "Magna Carta" established in the flow that derived as a situation of Rock that had rushed into in the 90's had the shape that developed from the flow that was entering the state of saturation from Hard Rock.

The shade of meaning of "Magna Carta" will have been a challenge that harmonized Hard Rock with Prog Rock in the present age for Mike Varney. As for this flow, opening an original outlook on the world and the close nature that Hard Rock and Heavy Metal had might have been included. The relation between Hard Rock and Prog Rock deeply has a common, mutual shades of meaning if it considers it in the general situation.

Development of intellectual element in "Rush". And, it is partial of merits and demerits that influence a progressive music character on which Iron Maiden and Queensryche worked and afterwards. And, the success of Dream Theater might have had the action that gradually removed the borderline of Hard Rock and Prog Rock in the 90's. As for the establishment of Magna Carta and the appearance of Maggellan, the shade of meaning might have been strong if it considered it from the respect in the market of Rock as one main current including the next stage and the expectation.

It was talked that Trent Gardner had received a large influence to "Hemisphere" of Rush. However, it is partial of a profound impression of the chorus and Harmony that can be listened in their initial works. The flow round which the original music character refined while including the impression from Yes, ELP, and Gentle Giant in a sense twines might be reminiscent of the methodology that "Kansas" often did.

The music characters of men who express it in this album are refined from the content of the work till then further and develop. It might be a point that the impression of Album Cover changes a little if it enumerates it as some revolutions. Trent Gardner is made remarks, "It is expressed that Art Work splendidly overcomes the maximum challenge in the life". And, the point that Logo of the band is changed. Or, the point to have introduced the part of the wind instrument boldly. And, it establishes it about the absent drum player after it debuts. It is said that appointed Brad Kaiser was related to the work of the television and the movie. It doesn't achieve it though there was a rumor that Doane Perry that participates in "Impending Ascension" of their 2nd albums becomes the drum player of Magellan, too. And, Bass player's Hal Stringfellow Imbrie doesn't participate in this album.

Shape to develop progressive Hard Rock for which band is generally used further. And, it gets rid of the flow. Magellan aimed at those elements at this time. Composition of tune with music and diversity refined further while following element of legitimate symphonic that can be listened in initial work. And, the form that introduces the wind instrument and includes impression in the tune further might be proceeded proof to the next step of them.

Review by progaardvark
COLLABORATOR Crossover/Symphonic/RPI Teams
4 stars Test of Wills was the follow-up to Magellan's Impending Ascension album. A complete shift in both musical style and sound took place on this album. The two most noticeable changes are a large incorporation of prog metal into the overall sound and the replacement of programmed drums with a human drummer. The latter was a great idea, althought Magellan could hold their own with programmed drums, something very few artists can pull off and turn them into something good. The addition of prog metal was a surprise and it has it's good and bad sides to it. The good is that the on some songs it gives it a good energy kick. The bad is that sometimes this style doesn't fit the quirkiness of Magellan's music. Another downside is that Trent Gardner's keyboards took a back seat, something I think is sorely missing from this album.

Magellan also seems to have picked up some Jethro Tull influences, in particular on the song Jacko. It's so convincing that it almost sounds like a rip-off, though I'm sure they did this as a tribute. By this time, all of their previous influences seem to have been shed and now Magellan has it's own sound.

Although I found this album an interesting experience, at times it seemed difficult because of the sudden shift in their sound. Also worth noting is that this incorporation of prog metal back in 1997 pre- dates many of the other neo prog bands that would do this in the early 2000s.

I like a lot of the material on this album, but it has a healthy dose of filler and that's the main reason I cannot rate it nearly as good as their previous effort. Consider it worth 3.5 stars, rounded up to four.

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
3 stars Explorers club

In 1995 and 1996 - between the release of their second album Impending Ascension and this, their third album Test Of Wills - Magellan was involved in the creation of a series of tribute albums to major classic progressive Rock bands. One of these was a tribute to Jethro Tull, and the Gardner brothers contribution to that album seems to have had a powerful influence on Magellan's own music on Test Of Wills. Several songs on this album, perhaps most notably Walk Fast, Look Worried and Jacko, have taken on a distinct Ian Anderson flavour in the song-writing and vocal style, and flute is even added to the palette of Magellan. Preaching The Converted is however in the style of (Magellan's version of) Genesis' Mama.

Another notable change in the band's sound for this album is the addition of real drums, here played by Brad Kaiser. Also, this album is much heavier than previous albums and more guitar oriented and overall less keyboard dominated. While adding real drums is clearly a step forward for the band, it is not matched by the quality of the material. The songs on Test Of Wills are less memorable than those of both the previous two albums and the subsequent one. Maybe they were saving up their best material for the excellent Explorer's Club album Age Of Impact which was released the following year?

Test Of Wills has its moments, but Magellan did better elsewhere. It is an acceptable album, but without doubt my least favourite of Magellan's four albums on the Magna Carta label. My favourites being 2002's Hundred Year Flood and the 1991 debut Hour Of Restoration, both of which have stronger material than what can be found on Test Of Wills.

Review by Menswear
1 stars Oh Lord have mercy.

This is still part of my Magna Carta plunge. 'Laughing at people is wrong' my mom told me at tender age and I frankly believe it's true. But did you ever had a friend who really thought he 'had it' musically? Common courtesy just tells you to nod and smile, saying gently: 'Wow, you really put some efforts into this!'....and then roll your eyes discreetly.

Singing is fun (we all do it on a daily basis) but singing correctly is tough. Writing a song is reasonnably reachable (Hootie and the Blowfish did it somewhat) but making it believable is something else. So Magellan are telling us that they can sing and write. Ok Okay. Yet again, Magellan's records seem to be plagued with the same old faults over and over again.

Laughing while listening a record is never a good, never. Unless it's Monty Python. The lame drum solo, the overuse of vocal layers and of a worn palette of colors, the cringe worthy singing and the true abscence of cohesion in song structure is taking it's toll. And trombone. Trombone is not a good idea for them.

How can I say this without being rude? I don't think there's enough alcohol in Canada to get through this.

Latest members reviews

4 stars Anyone into the 'aggressive progressive' thing needs some Magellan. This is the sole opus I own by them, but then I can't imagine them pulling off anything more infectious, clever or well arranged than this quite superior CD. Maybe I'm wrong! Anyway it manages to cast many of my other albums i ... (read more)

Report this review (#95777) | Posted by playitstrange | Thursday, October 26, 2006 | Review Permanlink

5 stars OK so there is some vintage prog influences to be found here but this acts main man is Trent Gardner (MR MAGNA CARTA) he in himself is a melting pot of ideas, fresh and original and has worked with many greats like STEVE HOWE and STEVE WALSH to many others to mention here. The bottem line is th ... (read more)

Report this review (#47990) | Posted by Trouble X | Friday, September 23, 2005 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Magellan is a great band, and this - their 3rd outing - is a fine effort, heavier than the first two. For the uniniated, Magellan is a bit like a head-on collision between ELP, Queen and Rush. A critic's nightmare, but a prog-fan's delight. "Test of Wills" features massive keywords, tricky a ... (read more)

Report this review (#4626) | Posted by | Sunday, May 1, 2005 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Am amazing album! A must for a 70's prog rock fun, (this is a 1997 album :-) . The YES/RUSH influence is obvious but this is not (in my opinion) a disadvantage. Key moments: "WALK FAST LOOK WORRIED" - excellent- nice metaphoric meaning!!! and "JACKO". ... (read more)

Report this review (#4625) | Posted by | Sunday, February 6, 2005 | Review Permanlink

4 stars A fantastic piece of heavy prog, a constantly changing cocophony of complex drums, guitar work and trumbone! with beautiful and interesting synths added cleverly, not too much to swamp their clean-cut production. The balance between all intsruments is near to perfection, with Trent gardner's v ... (read more)

Report this review (#4624) | Posted by | Monday, August 9, 2004 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Very good album one of Magellan best, maybe the second best only not so good as impending ascension. Very original and interesting group, if you have not listen any of their albums, try to get any of the, the only one I donīt recommend as strong as the others is A hundred Year Flood, it is really we ... (read more)

Report this review (#4622) | Posted by | Thursday, February 12, 2004 | Review Permanlink

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