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Magellan - Symphony For A Misanthrope CD (album) cover




Heavy Prog

3.12 | 100 ratings

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Andy Webb
Special Collaborator
Retired Admin
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.

Andy Webb | 3/5 |


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