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Glass Hammer - Chronometree CD (album) cover

CHRONOMETREE

Glass Hammer

 

Symphonic Prog

3.27 | 112 ratings

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LinusW
Special Collaborator
Italian Prog Specialist
2 stars Modern symphonic bands often receive critique for sounding too much like their '70s heroes, something I personally never had a problem with. Bands like The Flower Kings and Spock's Beard all add their own distinct touched to their music, creating great albums along the way. But now, for the first time, I can see that the criticism is justified in some cases.

Chronometree is basically an alloy of many of the great prog bands from the past (and present). As such, virtuosic instrumentalists are at work here, wonderful layering and great musical ideas are thrown around like if they were the easiest thing in the world to come by. No shortage of emotion either. But on the downside, it could just as well be just another cover band. It's all been used before.

Never before have I been so struck by the familiarity of many of the parts that make up this record. I hear Yes, ELP, Rush and Pink Floyd. And not just as influences, but as contributors. I know many of these parts from their respective albums. Waters-like singing and Gilmour-esque acoustic guitar, aggressive organ, bass and drums la ELP (and not only that, I promise there's a part of Karn Evil 9 in here) and above all: Yes all over the place. Be it Howe's distant but clear, sliding and noodling guitar sound, or the atmospherics and effects from Relayer, one can only come to the conclusion that Glass Hammer knows their heroes. Like on some Spock's Beard albums, the concept of mixing frantic keyboard heavy madness with mellow, Mellotron-string-laid vocal parts (sometimes together with that slide guitar from Relayer, or a piano) gets really annoying after a while. It feels like Glass Hammer, at least at this stage of their career, have mastered their instruments, but in the meantime failed to hone their compositional skill. And this leaves a gnawing feeling of incompletion for the album as a whole, a feature that certainly has the potential of overshadowing the instrumental prowess.

Chronometree is full of epic music, highly melodic, guaranteed to sweep you away at times with its amassed emotional power and knack for uplifting or arousing themes. It is really colourful at times; I'll give the band that. Singer Brad Marler has received some criticism in earlier reviews. He has a very distinct, modern FM rock kind of style, sometimes a little flat and sometimes reaching for emotions he just can't properly express (resulting in a slightly over-the-top performance), but altogether he isn't the one that brings this album down. Perhaps he is responsible for giving a slight modernized edge to all the retro-prog here. Some may like it, some may not. At least it provides some variety.

Arjen Lucassen, of Ayreon fame, also provide additional guitar to Chronometree. Besides a couple of nice dual guitar parts, slightly metalized now and then, he doesn't shine that brightly. But then he's just a guest musician for a change. Perhaps he inspired to some of the more prog metal-like synth runs that are crammed in between all the analog variants and Hammond dittos.

Glass Hammer has created a musical melange that works due to its inherent safeness and familiarity with Chronometree. No more, no less. Don't expect to be blown away by a sense of freshness or originality, because then you'll probably get disappointed. But there's just so much potential in the band that I'm still curious about the rest of the band's output, especially the albums that are higher in regard.

2 stars.

//LinusW

LinusW | 2/5 |

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