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Magnatar: Parallel Worlds

Here is another excellent new band for you proggers to dig into. Magnatar hail from Florida and released their debut album titled Parallel Worlds in 2019.

Sometimes instrumental music can be a little hard to digest and keep one’s interest throughout an album’s worth of songs. There is over fifty minutes of music on Parallel Worlds and I have to say I wasn’t bored even once. It really is superbly played instrumental melodic progressive rock. In a somewhat unusual fashion the band is led by mandolinist Glenn Smith.

On the album opening “Parallel Worlds” super tasty guitar work is first and foremost as the band absolutely cooks with fire. Some of the fast shredding exemplifies the band’s virtuosity. Soon the music calms down, transitioning into an almost ambient nature before building up once again. “Fourth Passage” is a melodic rocker with soaring guitar and keys, most notable organ. On the short “Solara (Intro to New Galaxy)” gentle mandolin adds a lovely symphonic touch. With the heavy “New Galaxy” the band’s swirling keyboard and guitar riffs and tricky rhythms again highlight just how talented these musicians are. Another great track. The mandolin intro is really cool and makes this band pretty unique. I should also mention the Geddy Lee style bass playing and synth solo as they are both superb examples of melodicism. That’s four excellent tracks to start the album, you can be rest assured there are more where those came from.

Parallel Worlds is an easy recommendation to all fans of instrumental progressive music. Catchy and well played with one foot forward as the other remains tied to its ‘70s progressive influences.

Band members:
Glenn Smith (mandolin)
Joey Costa (bass)
Reed Hayes (drums)
Ryan Rivas (guitar)
Dave Norton (keyboards)

Track Listing:
1. Parallel Worlds
2. Fourth Passage
3. Solara (Intro to New Galaxy)
4. New Galaxy
5. Night Changes
6. A Walk in the Park
7. Five Pieces of Six
8. She Flies
9. Augmented Reality

Added: April 22nd 2020
Reviewer: Jon Neudorf
Related Link: Band's Official Site
Hits: 1332
Language: english

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Magnatar: Parallel Worlds
Posted by Steven Reid, SoT Staff Writer on 2020-04-22 12:26:02
My Score:

In the never ending search for a new take on the traditional prog scene, Magnatar are led not by a guitarist or a keyboard player but by the electric mandolin work of chief composer Glenn Smith. In the booklet, Mr Smith is honest enough to admit that Yes are a strong source of his musical inspiration and as the album’s title cut opens Parallel Worlds - and even though it is often the higher pitched mandolin work of Smith himself leading the way - the similarities between some of his melody lines and those of Yes’s Steve Howe (to be fair, no stranger to a mandolin) are undeniable. However, backed by the stellar guitar work of Ryan Rivas, the pair combine magnificently as they blaze an impressive trail.

With no vocals, having the option to switch between the two lead stringed instruments allows for interesting diversions that while never too far out with the norm don’t just simply follow previous paths. Factor in the excellent keyboard contributions from Dave Norton and this three pronged attack quickly gets you onside as “Fourth Passage” spreads its wings. Undoubtedly, and more through the bass boom of Joey Costa, Yes is still in evidence but there’s a more forceful and slightly more modern flavour played out that broadens this band’s horizons.

It would be remiss not to mention the talents of dummer Reed Hayes as he both nails proceedings to the floor and embellishes the results with some fine tom work. With him also combining confidently with Costa, everything is quickly put in place to give Magnatar the base from which to build an exciting sound. And with the excellent song writing skills from Smith at their disposal, the likes of “New Galaxy”, “Five Pieces Of Six” and “Augmented Reality” don’t disappoint. Soon you forget that mandolin plays a stronger part here than you’d expect - although many a prog band keep it in their armoury - and simply lose yourself in some sumptuous instrumental workouts that rely on melody and hooks for their currency. Thankfully there are no gimmicks and never do you feel that Magnatar are simply ‘trying’ to be different for the sake of it but then in truth, with a sound so deeply rooted in prog’s grander moments, maybe that was never going to happen.

Finding much detail on the formation of Magnatar has proved a little elusive and other than that the band consists of three different generations of progressive music lovers coming together to make Parallel Worlds, there’s not much I can tell you. This would, however, appear to be their debut album and I for one hope they’ll go on to produce many more.

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