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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Magellan

Hour of Restoration

Review by Gary Hill

Magellan really seem to have a knack here for rapid-fire changes. As some have described the weather in the Midwest, if you don't like it, just wait a little while, it will change. Still, there is not much here to dislike. The group present a full on prog treatment that brings to mind such classic prog acts as Kansas, ELP and Yes, while revitalizing it with leanings toward metal and the newer prog of acts like Dream Theater. All in all, this debut was quite a strong one that certainly showed signs of great things to come from the Gardner brothers.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2003 Year Book Volume 1 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Magna Carta
Frantic hard-edged prog, feeling a bit like DT starts this off. After a short run in this mode, the cut shifts gears toward more classic sounding prog, but still fast paced. This also runs through, then a new more gritty guitar segment works its way through the arrangement. Then, the cut drops back to a more mellow segment with bursts of power. As the verse enters it is in a new, more melodic style. The band build on this for a time, then another new verse mode takes the composition. As this number builds it gets quite metallic for a time, then new prog instrumental segments take over as the cut rips through. This one is a bit tough to keep up with on the changes. It eventually drops to a mellow keyboard interlude. Then a very slow and gradual building process ensues. As it continues building it gets more intense and frantic once more. This resolves out to a triumphant sounding movement that is quite satisfying. At almost 15 minutes, this is the longest cut on the disc. The last segment has quite an intriguing arrangement, and gets metallic again at the end, before dropping to atmospheric keys that make up the actual outro.
The Winner
This one comes in running straight out of the gate. All the passion and power emerge almost at once, the cut feeling like a cross between Yes and Gentle Giant. It is quite a short, but potent piece, and the outro is especially strong.
Friends of America
The vast majority of this with different vocals could pass for early Kansas.
Union Jack
Electronic keys with processed vocals serve as the intro here. As it carries on more traditional guitar oriented prog ensues and begins to grow and build. This is one that feels a bit like ELP at times, but also shows elements of other classic prog groups. An instrumental break with spoken word clips of Winston Churchill provides an intriguing change, then a more frantic Yesish movement takes the composition for a time before returning to the earlier segments. A high-energy prog excursion screams out later and leads the composition into the final verse. This verse moves outward into a new resolution type of movement before another killer prog jam, this one rather Yesish emerges to carry the cut to its conclusion.
Another Burning
This shorter cut is more concise, but the vocal arrangement is rather complex. The tune is more melodic and less frantically dynamic than a lot of the material here, but it does have its share of changes, the most dramatic being a drop back to an Olde Worlde styled acoustic balladic type segment. This is actually one of the best numbers on the album.
Just One Bridge
An acoustic guitar based melody, this one is haunting and powerful. Although, at just over 2 minutes, it is very short and doesn't wander far but does intensify. It segues straight into the next tune.
Breaking These Circles
Coming out of the previous cut, this feels a first a bit like something that might show up on a Chris Squire album. It quickly shifts gear to more straight-ahead metallic modes, though, screaming out through most of the track. In fact, this one probably has some o f the most metallic sections to be found on the CD. It has enough changes in 5 plus minutes to eschew any claims that it is "just metal, though, and indeed leanings toward ELP and Yes are all over this thing.
Turning Point
At less than 2 minutes, this is definitely the shortest cut on the disc, and essentially an atmospheric piece based on textural keys over laid with vocals.
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