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Magellan - Impending Ascension CD (album) cover

IMPENDING ASCENSION

Magellan

 

Heavy Prog

3.69 | 131 ratings

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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.

progaeopteryx | 5/5 |

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