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Glass Hammer - Culture Of Ascent CD (album) cover


Glass Hammer


Symphonic Prog

3.54 | 165 ratings

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4 stars Glass Hammer is your typical contrast-laden fantasy inspiring prog-rock moniker. The image evokes the fragile delicacy of glass and the sheer brute power of the hammer. The analogy inspires the two extrapolated limits of this strange form of rock music labeled progressive (a term unknown back in the 70s): gentle lyricism inspired by the baroque classical period and the Wagnerian "Sturm & Drang" of bass-drum Rock. Many have spiced their own recipes with their own dosages, mostly successfully or else this site wouldn't even exist. This Chattanooga Tennessee (not exactly what you would expect as hotbed of prog) band has been dishing out fine servings of Yes-inspired prog over the last 10 years or so, generally highlighting Steve Babb's Wakemanesque tendencies as well as Fred Schendel's "wide" rumbling bass inspired by the one & only Chris Squire. The albums kept getting better and better, with the previous "The Inconsolable Secret" particularly epic and grandiose with plenty of adventurous orchestrations. The "Live at the Belmont" DVD introduced two new members, finally addressing the two past weaknesses, firstly a fabulous Swiss guitarist named Daniel Walliman, who can wail, crunch and schmooze with anyone in Progland and Salem Hill's Carl Groves on lead vocals, a definite upgrade on past GH vocalists . Hence, "The Culture of Ascent" is the first completely successful Glass Hammer recording, mainly because all hands are now fully on deck. Drummer Matt Mendians is polyvalent in all facets of percussives, the female voice of Sue Bogdanovicz and the Adonia String Quartet complete the lush sound. Of course, the compositions are way more refined, less Yes and more GH than ever before which gives them the confidence to kick off the proceedings with a remake of Yes' South Side of the Sky featuring a cameo from Jon Anderson on backing "vocalizations". "Sun Song" really bulldozes nicely along, carving out some fine landscapes for the violin to soar and the guitar to shred. "Ember Without a Name" and "Into Thin Air" are extended epics that really liberate the band to search out new horizons successfully and "Rest" closes out the proceedings on a very high Choir-laden note. Very close to perfect with beautiful artwork to boot. 4.5 crystal mallets
tszirmay | 4/5 |


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