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Magellan - Impending Ascension CD (album) cover

IMPENDING ASCENSION

Magellan

Heavy Prog


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Cesar Inca
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars With 'Impending Ascension', Magellan follow in the same vein they had started on their debut album 'Hour of Restoration': the same elements are here, although this new repertoire exhibits a more careful labour at writing and a more refined level of performing skills. The major references continue to be Kansas, Yes and ELP, as well as the occasional touches of prog metal's driving force and neoprog's melodic textures. With the exception of track 2 (actually, my all-time Magellan fave number - by the way, fantastic electronic drumming by Jethro Tull's Duane Perry), the drumkit/percussion sounds come from rhythm sequences, which are cleverly programmed in order to set complex patterns and varied tempo shifts. This factor helps Magellan to instill a very modern air into their symph prog, so heavily inspired in tha great classics' grandeur. The highlights are the longest tracks, 'Estadium Nacional', 'Waterfront Weirdos' and 'Storms and Mutiny': the latter, a suite inspired by the historical Magellan, is preceeded by the stunning instrumental 'No Time for Words' as a kind of linked prelude. The 5+ minute tracks are also quite good, though I miss some impressive guitar and/or synth soloing which may have enriched them properly. The last track is catchy prog metal oriented number that definitely should have been developed further: why is it so short? Gardner brothers must have had their reasons to keep it so, therefore the listener has nothing left to do but accept and respect it. My personal balance for 'Impending Ascension' is very positive, since I regard it a step onward in their artistic evolution toward a hard rocking prog sound.
Report this review (#4618)
Posted Sunday, June 27, 2004 | Review Permalink
4 stars This is an awesome album! It reminds me so much of the Fish-era Marillion material, which I loved very much. After Fish left, Marillion went downhill. Thank God that we have Magellan, who in my opinion became the new Marillion. Trent Gardner is such a musical genius (I hope we hear more Explorer's Club albums in the near future), and I expect much good to come out of this fantastic prog-rock band in the days to come. Brother Wayne is very underrated, one of the better guitarists of this generation. This album is strong, and even essential. It merits four stars. As Trent says, "Prog on!"
Report this review (#4619)
Posted Monday, March 7, 2005 | Review Permalink
Bj-1
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Magellan's second release, "Impending Ascension", follows the footsteps of their first album with similar movements, styles and progressions only that here they managed to improve even further musically. It's more mature and displays a better directional improvement and balance over the arrangements, but still keeps itself within the style of their first album. The music is adventurous, creative and interesting and the arrangements are incredibly complex and progressive but Magellan melts these combinations together with ease resulting in an incredibly technical but melodic album overall. It's very bombastic but some might find this stuff pretentious and overblown, like some of Emerson Lake & Palmer's works but I love it, mostly because of the creative and unique music featured here. A blast of prog-rock, neo-prog and prog-metal, combined in a very creative way. Fans of those three sub-genres should like this album, but you have to be prepared for a pretentious ride, but I found this one incredibly rewarding and downright addictive. I listen to it quite often. Too bad it's so underrated!

There are seven tracks here, and the highlights are obviously the three 11-minute epics that goes over half of the albums playing time. These tracks are some of Magellan's best and goes through some really great parts, complete with many interesting twist and turns in the music with rapid yet structured progressions. All three are equally as good, in my opinion, and captures Magellan at their creative peak just like on the "Magna Carta" epic from their debut album. The shorter tracks are also good, with "Virtual Reality" being a standout musically. Like the albums epics, these tracks are complex and creative with the only low point being "Under The Wire" which is a rather pointless song. Still good though. The musicianship throughout the album is excellent and Trent Gardner's keyboards is effectively used not only as a lead instrument, but also as a important role to their sound. Wayne Gardner's guitar works is also great, switching between gentle to heavy at the right spots in the right time, while the drum-machine follows the music well, and like on their debut is used effectivly without sounding tiresome. A very even album overall.

This became one of my favorite albums after several listenings, though it is an acquired taste for some. Some find it too modern and sterile, others find it too pretentious, but I love it regardless. I would highly recommend it, but you have to be prepared for a ride outside the normal standards. One minor flaw ("Under The Wire") but otherwise excellent stuff. Give it a try, It might not appeal to everyone, but It sure did appeal to me! 5/5!

Report this review (#73481)
Posted Wednesday, March 29, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars It is my first purchase of a music of Magellan. Magellan is composed of two brothers who make all the keyboards and all guitars and all the low ones. I think of the programs of the Trent Gardner the drums although he does not say if he makes this open but that resembles him. Usually the programming of the drums encourages me to think of the terrible substance Phil Collins made with the genesis, but those programmed the noise of drums really ordered. If you do not like them, you could like the latter.

The album starts with Estadium Nacional that the noises like the sound of the Spaniard and way or other I wonder whether it must make with Chile. The music jumps from one place to the other, almost like top an angle. The keyboards overpower, but I like them to be in this way. It resembles me with the manner that I like to eat preserves with the vinegar. With me it is like many American governments Of the south having inversions and the jet rises and the machine-guns. If you must take an arenaceous cliff with the lunch, you would note that there is not much that you can make with him and pouring mustard on top will not return it not salted.

I appreciated weirdos of edge of sea. I am a weirdo, but I do not think that this song is about me. I like to also observe bumblebees, but it is not about the bumblebees or of the mountains. Perhaps it seems to be to the people without hearth in New York, or equalizes Syracuse, but I am lucky far to have guessed this because I do not speak. The keyboards on this are rising and empty, involving me to throw my pull knobs. I am fantastic about the large cells of the pullovers. It is a nice song.

Now it deviates from the lessons of history and the policy from everywhere where they went. Songsmith seems to be a court, full with the head through the substance of guitar. The author is about writing the songs and it is not Barry Manilow of your mother. Barry writes songs, but it cannot write songs like this. This could make resemble it by radio operator cheese.

Virtual reality is surveyed slower and is about virtual reality. It left me gives that the cold of Fahrenheit 451, but not the same one as the trucks of fire which basement ball avenue around research holds. It is more like dancing among the elevators in the thing of machine. The guitar is subjected, but it lends to more charts to catalogue.

No time for words had me confused. I think that they tried to rebound around the plates and of the horses with this. But it carries out sunny storms to me the attack to and revolts. This seems to be about circulating the world on a boat and to have people on the boat who do not want to circulate the world. I never went around the world, but I am not sure if I would occur a revolt. The song is not in the same sector as the first two songs though it is long. It seems to change into clearly.

Under the wire finishes it. In a general way, although some of the songs are above average, there are a few remarkable pieces which ate to my attention. I however about him to give three holds the first role, or perhaps three points, but it leans to me bread of surplus much more. So that I do not fall to the bottom, I upwards support it with four of those holds the first role. With me, this seems excellent, but far is removed to be the gem. The ventilators will eat this to the top which like the symphonic substance and bags. --JB

Report this review (#77951)
Posted Friday, May 12, 2006 | Review Permalink
Eetu Pellonpaa
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
2 stars This is the only album by this band which I have heard, and I must admit that this kind of music isn't really my cup of tea. Objectively thinking the record itself probably isn't extremely poor, but the question on tastes concerning aesthetic solutions seems to make differ. The person who recommended this album to me tried to sell it comparing Magellan's music to the sounds of Yes and Queen. There are lots of vocal harmonies in their material, and the tracks are bit longer with different themes and changing rhythms. There are also some pompous elements in their music which annoyed me, and the sounds were modern and sterile. There are also some harder tones on the guitars, so I think this group suits for the followers of prog metal and neo prog acts.
Report this review (#78461)
Posted Wednesday, May 17, 2006 | Review Permalink
apps79
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Two years after the very good ''Hour of restoration'' the Gardner brothers return with their second album ''Impending ascension''.Bassist Hal Stringfellow Imbrie was again in the line-up along with guests Doane Perry (drums in ''Waterfront weirdos'') and Hope Harris (female voice in ''Virtual reality'').The album was originally released on Magna Carta, but it was distributed in Asia and several European countries via various record labels.

The progressive style of Magellan continues to expand with this release, which contains no less than three songs at about 11 minutes long, along with a few shorter pieces.Taking YES' pomposity, GENESIS' delicacy, RUSH'es power styles and KANSAS' heavier tunes, Magellan delivered efficient Progressive Rock with a fair dose of dynamics and some symphonic orchestrations with the virtuosic keyboards recalling compatriots CAIRO.The long tracks are filled with time signatures and tempo changes, sounding like a Symphonic Rock group going Heavy Prog with an Arena Rock attitude.It's typical 90's stuff with some of the tunes sounding a bit synthetic and the vocals coming through slight micorphone distortions, but the biggest problem comes from the annoying drum programming and the fake-sounding drumming.Magellan were a trully competetive band and the arrangements in here are quite convincing with endless changing climates and bombastic atmospheres, which are held down by the robotic sounds.Even so the band offers epic compositions with Classical orientations and some strong rockin lines, led by the constant use of synthesizers in an orchestral package and the powerful use of electric guitars, propelled by a marching bassist.Both ''Estadium Nacional'' and ''Waterfront weirdos'' became classics of the band, characterized by the weird QUEEN-meets-GENTLE GIANT vocal harmonies and the semi-symphonic arrangements with the complex breaks and the bombastic keyboards.

This is one of those albums you either fall in love with or hate it from the first listening.Lovers of natural instrumentation will have some hard time getting into Magellan's sound due to the synthetic drumming and orchestrations, those closer to 90's Prog will find this propably quite close to an essential release, all three long tracks are great compositions.The truth is somewhere in the middle.Recommended but not extraordinary by any means.

Report this review (#144880)
Posted Monday, October 15, 2007 | Review Permalink
progaeopteryx
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars Two years after their interesting debut, Magellan follows up with the quirky and more polished Impending Ascension. Like their debut, the music is often a little strange as it shifts often from movement to movement. They are still using programmed drums, but this time I see a dramatic improvement in composing them as they fit the music like a glove. Doane Perry (Jethro Tull) guests on drums on Waterfront Weirdos and adapts quite well to the music of the Gardner brothers, so well that it sounds similar to the programmed drums in the other tracks. I'm not sure if that was intentional or not, but it's helpful for the album's cohesion.

Trent Gardner shows some excellent skills behind the keys. This album is loaded with them, which will be quite different from future Magellan albums which will lean more towards prog metal than symphonic prog (which Impending Ascension is firmly rooted in). Gardner, although not the greatest singer, really improves his delivery on this album. His voice is really suitable for those soaring moments. He also shows some prominent influences from Ian Anderson's singing style on Storms and Mutiny. Brother Wayne Gardner excels and improves on his guitar work and Hal Stringfellow Imbrie performs skillfully on bass.

While their debut had more of a stronger Kansas influence to it, I sense that Impending Ascension shows more of a Genesis inspiration (both late 1970s and 1980s). I also sense influences from ELP (on Songsmith and No Time for Words), Yes (for the harmony vocals), and a little bit of Rush. But there is a lot more to this than the influences. There is also a good kick of hard rock added to the symphonic mixture resulting in a really unique quirky sound that is all Magellan's. I can't really find another CD in my collection that sounds anything like Magellan.

Again, the lyrics are somewhat historical in nature, ranging from the Chilean coup d'état of 1973 (along with characters like Salvador Allende, Harald Edelstam and Richard Nixon) in the song Estadium Nacional and the mutiny during Magellan's journey in 1520 on Storms and Mutiny. In addition, Magellan tackles the homeless of New York (on Waterfront Weirdos) and virtual reality (on Virtual Reality).

I can see this album taking some effort for some to get into, but for me it clicked right away. I guess it's a desired taste. It's a strange mixture of stuff, but quite unique. If it's your cup of tea, you'll probably enjoy it. Otherwise, you'll probably wonder what all the hoopla was about. Unfortunately, this would be the last Magellan album in this style as the Gardner brothers would incorporate more metal influences into their music and have the keys play a more subdued role. Even though I enjoy their later releases, they just don't seem as captivating as Impending Ascension. I'm going to go out on a limb and give this five stars. It's a masterpiece to me and I really love listening to this, even with all its quirks.

Report this review (#156402)
Posted Sunday, December 23, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars Having followed Magellan since early in their career it is hard to say which album is the better of the first two. All I can say is that they are both amazing and that Magellan never came close to the imagery and song writing of the material on these releases again. The quirkyness of the music and lyrics interplaying is one of a kind although it is just slightly tamed compared to their debut. It often feels like the frequent time and tempo changes are a direct response to how the lyrics are written. Instead of changing the lyrics to flow naturally over a constant time signature the meter is changed leaving the original lyrical phrase intact. The songs here are about computers and modern technology as on Virtual Reality and what it's like to write introvert progressive rock songs, Songsmith. Storms And Mutiny goes back to the very entertaining history lecture style used on the Hour Of Restoration album and tells the tale of the Portuguese explorer Magellan from whom the band name originates. Impending Ascension is to me a modern classic and represents Magellan at their artistic peak.
Report this review (#187189)
Posted Monday, October 27, 2008 | Review Permalink
5 stars These days I don't have much time to listen to music and forget everything that surrounds me. This album is a bunch fresh air, specially considering I was more or less disappointed with most of my recent music buys. Magellan sounds like old school prog rock, but they are not ripoffs: while being very complex (actually, the technicality of the music is high and it demands a lot of attention), they are melodically and (specially) armonically excellent (they do never use predictable chord progressions); they use programmed electronic drums, but they do not sound 'sterile' or unnatural, on the contrary, sometimes seems there's a human sitting behind the kits, and there are so many time changes that programming the drums would' ve been a big headache for Trent and company; the tracks are distinctive. They have some pure symphonic moments, with lots of keys, but every now and then they throw a heavy riff (just hear, Impending Ascension, the first and best song of the album) that brings them closer to the progressive metal genre. Not many solos here, the deal are the compositions and the constant progression of the music. You have some softer neo prog moments, but manly the album can be described as heavy.

The first two tracks are really outstanding, enjoyable, complex, intelligent; they do not sound like anything else in my whole discography. It is not a masterpiece (hey, maybe they're an acquired taste, judging the reviews Magellan received), but it would not deserve a four star rating. This album pushes limits in its own way, and easily could get the attention of any prog music lover. An unique work of art.

Rating: 4.5/5

Report this review (#219977)
Posted Friday, June 5, 2009 | Review Permalink
ZowieZiggy
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars With the types of influences that "Magellan" is using, it is quite strange that they end up in the heavy prog category. It sounds much more a combination of symph and neo-prog to my perception.

If you want to travel through the seventies and return to some "Yes" (vocals) or "ELP" (music) feeling, I can only recommend the very good opening song: "Estadium Nacional". It is true to add that some parts are heavier oriented, but not too much.

The Gardner brothers (and their crew) do propose some above the line music (which is not often the case with other US bands of the same vein) and therefore I am (so far) quite tolerant with their work. It might not be recommended to purists, but overall one gets a good forty minutes break while listening to "Impeding Ascension". The opening track is rather impressive (but so was "Magna Carta" from their debut). The same fear as well: is the band able to proceed on the same level?

The second long song (over eleven minutes like "Estadium") is maybe more personal (but fully neo). There are several theme changes and great keys proposed in this offering. It would be false to say that some "Genesis" feel would be alien to it. Still, "ELP" are also not too far away. Not too bad a mix and nicely rendered. Bombastic moments are also on-line to be complete. Especially during the long keyboards parts.

This album holds a third long song (again over eleven minutes): "Storms And Mutiny". It is my least favourite one, probably due to its intense borrowing from several masters and much less inspired. Some sort of a metal version of "Watcher Of Skies" at times. Ouch!

Just like during their debut, the shorter songs are of less quality. "Virtual Reality" for instance sounds closer to "prog" metal than anything else. A heavy "Kansas" maybe? Nothing too exceptional (but "Songsmith" was already an indication). Good vocals though.

The totally heavy metal oriented closing "Under The Fire" is a rather bizarre manner to end up with this work. As far as I'm concerned, I can only be happy that it last for a mere 100 seconds.

I rate this album with three stars (just as their debut one) mostly thanks to the first two long tracks available.

Report this review (#245083)
Posted Saturday, October 17, 2009 | Review Permalink
b_olariu
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Magellan's second album from 1993 named Impending ascension is a natural follow up to Hour of restoration. I always have a soft spot for Magellan, I don't realy know why because they are not one of my fav prog bands, but their music has something that I like to listen constantly. Magellan is considered one of the bands from second armada of progressive rock artists and they always were and are in the shadow of other names, strange because has a pleasent and in places quite complicated music. The music on this second album is chalenging and has some very unique moments, typical aswell for Magellan's music. The Gardner brothers has an unique and intristing manner of composig from symphonic moments to heavy prog and even in places some neo prog and prog metal are here But what they make diffrent from the other bands is thier unmistakeable sound and manner of composing taken influences from Yes or Kansas, but melted very well and with intelligent manner in Magellan's sound as a whole. Impending ascension is among their better albums if not the better one among with Impossible figures and Test of Wills, delivering some amazing moments like on Watefront weirdos a 11 min journey to what Magellans has best to offer, another goody is Estadium nacional again great and typical for Magellan and Virtual reality, toying a little bit with prog metal like on the last track Under the wire as well. They have invited on drums on second piece Waterfron weirdos the talented Doane Perry from Jethro Tull, he dis a good job and integreat very well in the sound of the band. Magellan's music must take some time to get into, but when you do will be pleasent surprise about thier unique manner of composing. I will give 3.5 rounded to 4, because is among their better works and among my fav Magellan albums aswell, and always like them for what they do.
Report this review (#246158)
Posted Sunday, October 25, 2009 | Review Permalink
5 stars I discovered this record by pure coincidence as I recently walked into my local record store and found this album somewhere hidden in the metal section. I thought that the cover was beautiful and that the songs and their lengths sounded promising to me and I gave this record a try. In the end, this recorded easily delivered more than I expected and offers amazing progressive rock and metal music with a multitude of influences.

In the opening epic killer "Estadium Nacional", you hear that the classic progressive rock bands such as "Yes" and "Genesis" largely influenced this band and this track could easily fit one of those band's best albums back in the seventies. From the beginning on, one realizes that "Magellan" honour their influences and know what good progressive music is. Further in this album, I recognized also a couple of modern influences. This band must have been a major influence for bands such as "Dream Theater", "Ayreon" and even "Tool". What pushes this band above the other ones is the fact that the sound of this record is much warmer and easier to follow than the sound of the mentioned progressive metal bands. In fact, the mixture between classic progressive rock and more recent progressive metal is almost equally divided on this great record that grows more and more on me with a slight advantage for the progressive rock touches.

This album impressed me so much that I paid around twenty-five bucks for it and decided to discover the other records of the band. Calm piano and keyboard passages like in the beginning of "Waterfront Weirdos" are mixed with epic and yet commercial progressive rock passages like the middle passages of "Estadium Nacional", modern and atmospheric passages like the opening of "Virtual Reality", hectic classic progressive rock passages like in the beginning of "Storms And Mutiny" and harder metal passages like in the closing progressive banger "Under The Wire". The songs all have a great and coherent flow but there still many details to get discovered. I prefer not to point out any particular song as the album works very well as a whole and all songs have something interesting to deliver no matter if they have a length of less than two or more than eleven minutes. Just take your earphones, lay down and discover this brilliant album.

This album is a truly addicting drug and should be in the collection of anybody that likes either progressive rock or progressive metal music. This highly diversified and energetic album is my discovery of the year until now and helps me to get more and more addicted to progressive music in general. I would even recommend this album to anybody that isn't too much into progressive stuff yet and wants to get a first high quality overview as this album could be the beginning of a voyage of the grandest kind.

Originally published on www.metal-archives.com on May 10th of the year 2011.

Report this review (#499361)
Posted Sunday, August 7, 2011 | Review Permalink
progaardvark
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars After their mixed-bag debut, Magellan improves dramatically with what is my favorite album from them; and also what I consider as their peak. What Magellan does here is expand on their better and longer tracks from their debut. Trent Gardner's keyboard work is exceptional and again the subject matter of the songs is mostly historical in nature. So in addition to great music, we can obtain a history lesson at the same time!

I have a hard time pinning a comparison to other groups for this album. Kansas seemed a big influence on their debut, but I don't sense that comparison much here. There are occasional nods to ELP and Yes (for the vocal harmonies), and maybe a teeny bit of Genesis. I guess what I am saying is that Magellan have adopted their own sound.

Programmed drums are still a part of the band (with the exception of a guest performance by Doane Perry), but don't think of that as a hindrance like it is for so many other bands and artists. This is the kind of album a drum programmer should listen to to hear how it is done correctly. Magellan would acquire a human drummer on their next album.

I still listen to this album a lot and I think it is vastly underrated. I consider it one of the gems at the forefront of the recovery of prog rock taking place in the early 1990s. The only sad thing about this album is that none of the following Magellan albums comes close to matching its quality.

Report this review (#933927)
Posted Friday, March 22, 2013 | Review Permalink
SouthSideoftheSky
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Symphonic Team
3 stars Circumnavigation

Magellan's second album appeared in 1994. Most commentators seem to describe it as a natural continuation of their debut, 1991's Hour Of Restoration, but while there are obvious similarities between the two albums, I personally also see important differences. Many also regard Impending Ascension as an improvement over the debut, but I instead prefer Hour Of Restoration. I find the debut to be a more coherent album, no doubt owing a lot to its conceptual nature, while Impending Ascension comes across more as a collection of unrelated songs.

The track that most resembles the music of the debut is Storms And Mutiny which is a song about Ferdinand Magellan's famous circumnavigation of the Earth (and obviously from where the Gardner brothers have taken their band name). Including No Time For Words, which is an instrumental introduction to the same, it runs to some 14 minutes and readily invites comparison with the equally epic Magna Carta from Hour Of Restoration. In my view, Magna Carta is the better of the two.

Another long track, and the best of this album, is album opener Estadium Nacional which blends the sound of 80's Yes (90125, Big Generator) with the complexities of 70's Yes, and adds some heavy riffs to that and a chorus that reminds me of Boston! Waterfront Weirdos is instead very much in the style of Marillion, with Fish-like vocals and all. Doane Perry of Jethro Tull fame helps out on drums on that one (but the other tracks still have programmed drums). Shorter songs like Songsmith, Virtual Reality, and Under The Wire are not bad at all.

I like this album, but unlike Hour Of Restoration, after hearing Impending Ascension, I feel saturated and have no real desire to start the album again. Recommended, but not as good as Hour Of Restoration.

Report this review (#1507429)
Posted Wednesday, January 6, 2016 | Review Permalink
Menswear
PROG REVIEWER
1 stars *Sigh*

My mom told me not to laugh at others misfortune, and she's right. So when it comes to appreciate an album, sometimes only sarcastic lines comes to you. That's never good. So I'll be gentle.

Why do I keep lurking at Magellan: they have super album art. Just beautiful, colorful and attractive. Positive: they have a good eye. I'm a sucker for great art cover, whaddaya want? I'm a softie, hoping that the gift matches the wrapping paper.

What grinds my gears: their lack of coherence. It's not the technique; they can play, and how. They're actually very good players.

Coherence: writing songs that makes sense, a sense of going somewhere. Gentle Giant are complex, but their songs gel. Magellan songs are complex, but they change direction every 15 seconds. So you feel like listening to snippets of songs, a myriad of segments that were never developped into a full idea. Just bits and more bits of songs bouncing frivolously hoping to create a 'song', leaving you with the feeling of being lost in a sea of over-enthusiasm.

Trent Gardner singing: a monotonous line without emotion or ondulation, so whack you'll roll your eyes.

Once again, it's NOT deprived of qualities: some (too quick) parts are bombastic and catchy, but them spectre of boredom lurks again, and again.

Report this review (#2181812)
Posted Sunday, April 7, 2019 | Review Permalink

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