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Magellan at their finest - 87%

GobMeansFrog, April 26th, 2015
Written based on this version: 1997, CD, Magna Carta Records

After Impending Ascension, Magellan took a four year break before releasing their third long-play effort Test of Wills. And, boy, did that break serve the album well.

To be honest, to me, the predecessors came up as quite over the top, oscillating between being being pompous, and downright pretentious, to say the least. Although the Gardner brothers were displaying an incredible sense of musical competence and craftsmanship, Hour of Restoration and the sophomore seemed to be lacking in overall variety, despite their excellent musical pedigree mainly consisting of 70's progressive rock giants.

In contrast, Test of Wills sounds more down to earth. Keeping their signature vocal harmonies and complex arrangements, they prominently integrate elements from modern rock music and even heavy metal into their music, thus sounding more fresh and balanced than before. Magellan on this album are more relaxed and playful, for example in the closing Critic's Carnival, where the flute sections mimicking those by Jethro Tull are perfectly fitting the ironic lyrics. The keyboard sequences on Crucible and Preaching the converted, however, are reminiscent of those of 80's and 90's Genesis, the latter ones might have also been featured on Calling all Stations.

In total, Test of Wills turns out to be rather playful and diverse, displaying Magellan at their peak, being both musically diverse and adventurous. Although not being on a par with the forerunners and leading bands of progressive rock, this album is highly enjoyable and recommended for those who like the genre.