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Glass Hammer - Culture Of Ascent CD (album) cover

CULTURE OF ASCENT

Glass Hammer

 

Symphonic Prog

3.52 | 134 ratings

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Roland113
2 stars In My Not So Humble Opinion:

"Culture of Ascent" by Glass Hammer leaves me kind of dry.

So in the fall of last year, the bands for this year's Three River's Prog Festival were being announced, and among the big announcements was Glass Hammer. I was pretty excited, I hadn't made a point to seek their music out and this was the perfect opportunity. I'd been seeing the ads for "Cluture of Ascent" flash across the top of the Prog Archives for a while and it seemed like it was time to investigate Glass Hammer.

After twenty listens, the CD still isn't clicking with me. There are parts of parts, but all in all, it's a meandering CD with very little to take root in. "Glass Hammer" is very heavily influenced by Yes, almost like a modern sounding version of the iconic proggers.

The overall sound quality of the CD is good, though the bass is lacking at times, flat at other times. Bassist Steve Babb is obviously of the Chris Squire School of Bass, which is good if you like that kind of thing. "Ember Without Name" in particular shows why one shouldn't bend the strings on their bass, the last half of the song is hard for me to listen to.

I feel bad saying this, but I don't think Carl Groves vocal tone is strong enough to carry the band either. At times, he can also drift off a little bit and when he is on key the tone of his voice is somewhat dull. "Life by Light" is started off with an a cappella bit in which every other verse sounds slightly off key.

On the bright side, the strings are brilliantly orchestrated and Fred Schendel's keyboard work is very good as well. "Into Thin Air", my favorite song on the album and the only one that I actively listen to when I'm not trying to get into this album, shows some of Schendel's work coupled with the string section. The first two minutes of this song can give me the proverbial goosebumps.

In addition to the strings, Susie Bogdanowicz does a great job with her vocals, most notably the cover of Yes' "South Side of the Sky". Again, the strings are orchestrated beautifully in this song.

The string work in "Sun Song" is the only real saving factor for this song. "Rest" is a decent enough closer and one of the better songs on the album as well. As with the rest of the CD, the highlight in this one is the strings.

Sadly this CD didn't do much for me, as much as I want to give it more, I can only give two stars. They sound too much like a slightly off key version of Yes. They are saved by a rating of one by the string section and "Into Thin Air". If you like yes imitators, then you may enjoy this CD more than I did, other wise, I don't recommend it.

Roland113 | 2/5 |

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