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Glass Hammer - Culture Of Ascent CD (album) cover

CULTURE OF ASCENT

Glass Hammer

 

Symphonic Prog

3.52 | 134 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

cutsofmeat
3 stars Since I enjoy reading all the reviews on this site, I thought it would be nice to start contributing...so here goes...

Glass Hammer is one of the better bands I have heard in the symphonic prog category. Their albums always seem to progress, meaning they only get better with many multiple listens. Enter Carl Groves of Salem Hill adding a (much needed) helping hand with the vocals and Glass Hammer is back on track after the somewhat lackluster "Inconsolable Secret." With that said, I wanted to review their most recent release "Culture of Ascent." Here is a brief song by song analysis:

1) South Side of the Sky - The opener is well done and they re-created this Yes classic in their own style. Not much to add about this. Jon Anderson of Yes also contributed for a more inspired attempt. Not sure why they chose this song or even whey they chose to do a cover song for this album, but they did a respectable job. 7/10

2) Sun Song - The first few minutes of this song is very promising. Nice string and synth work along with strong vocals, but then you begin to lose interest. It could have been a few minutes shorter. At times Glass Hammer makes songs a bit long just for the sake of extending the track length. This is a prime example. What was over 9 minutes could have been shortened to 5 or 6. 6/10

3) Life by Light - Opens with light vocals and quiet and comforting instrumentals. The vocal arrangements through out the song seem very focused and are well done. But again, seems like this one drags after the 5 minute mark as there are no peaks or valleys within. Not bad, but nothing special either. 6/10

4) Ember Without Name - OK, this is where things start to pick up. Well constructed guitar sections along with Schendel's keyboard work really make this track stand out. They also incorporate some nice string work that really adds to the feel of this song. Towards the second half of the song, Babb's bass lines are on display and it clocks in at over 17 minutes, none of which seem forced. Nice flow to this one and I never lose interest. Well done. 8/10

5) Into Thin Air - The longest song of the album, over 19 minutes. Like the previous song, this one does not seem forced for the sake of making it long. Great acoustic guitar accompanied with more strings along with Groves' vocals make it very strong. It does, however, take repeated listens to really begin to appreciate this number. This is the most challenging track of the album which I enjoy. 8/10

6) Rest - Perfect example of less being more. Nothing fancy, nothing special, YET this song captures my attention with the beautiful melody and the simplicity. The focus is of the song is on the vocals, yet they create a very warm and inspiring atmosphere that captures me. Might be my favorite song. 9/10

Glass Hammer has managed to produce a very fine album this time around. If you are expecting another Lex Rex type of album, forget it. But if have enjoyed their other works such as Shadowlands and Inconsolable Secret, then you will indeed enjoy this one. Probably not the best introduction to this band, but solid nonetheless. Average of 7.5/10 per song....I will give it 3.5 stars but rounding it up to 4 seems a tad too generous. I will go with 3 stars for the sake of this format, good but non essential.

cutsofmeat | 3/5 |

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