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Glass Hammer - Lex Rex CD (album) cover

LEX REX

Glass Hammer

 

Symphonic Prog

3.72 | 155 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Lofcaudio
4 stars Glass Hammer was recently recommended to me, so I bought two of their albums: The Inconsolable Secret and Lex Rex. It took me a while to get used to listening to this type of music as I tend to favor bands that are more guitar-oriented. Glass Hammer has a very electronic sound as they lay it on thick with the keyboards and the programmed drums with random cameos by a guitar. Now the bassist, Steve Babb, is very proficient and does an excellent job of augmenting the music with a strong bass line. Fred Schendel is the keyboard extraordinaire (and Babb helps out as well when it comes to the keys).

Lex Rex is a fascinating concept album that really works well in my opinion. After the emcee introduces the album, the first song ("Tales of the Great Wars") takes off and creates the setting for the rest of the album. Glass Hammer's vocals are nicely done right from the beginning with Babb providing the lead vocal in this song and the female vocals coming in from time to time to provide an almost haunting atmosphere to the epic. Babb's bass is tough as nails and Schendel provides a nice touch with some acoustic guitar strumming during the opening verses to deliver a rich texture to the sound. Every type of keyboard you can imagine seems to make an appearance at one time or another during this opening song.

"One King" is up next and starts off with a much softer feel than its predecessor as the second chapter of the story is told. Midway through it picks up steam and actually ends with a mini-climax which leads right into the third song.

"Further Up and Further In" clocks in at 15:13 and delivers all sorts of musical treats. After the typical keyboard acrobatics that I think ELP fans would enjoy, the song gets into a nice rhythm with a delightful combination of vocals (both Babb and Bogdanowicz), keyboard chords along with a subtle acoustic guitar.

The album then has an intermission where the narrator returns in an attempt to inject some light-hearted humor. I find this to be a pointless exercise as this is a music album. The short intermission is a waste of time and I always find myself saying, "Come on, let's get back to the music!"

Of course, things really take off at this point. The second half of this album is just outstanding, in my opinion. "Music for Four Hands" is a two minute highlight reel instrumental that sets the tone for the second half. "A Cup of Trembling" follows and is a great Glass Hammer song. This song provides some great lyrics as the concept of the album is fleshed out from the perspective of a Roman soldier who has searched for fame and glory all his life in battle and now takes part in the arrest and scourging of Jesus and makes this confession: "I would find what I sought at the point of my spear."

"Centurion" is next and continues the story of Jesus and the Romans decision to put the self-proclaimed King to death. A more melancholy melody exists throughout this song, as you might imagine.

"When We Were Young" is the culminating song of the album and goes back to the perspective of the Roman soldier who with his sword pierced Jesus' side during the crucifixion and is now standing watch by the tomb. As he ponders his role in the death of Jesus with regret, the music steadily crescendoes and even incorporates what sounds like an electric guitar to give a soulful touch. (I guess that sound is just as likely to come from a keyboard though considering that this is Glass Hammer and they seem to be able to make just about any sound they want with one of Fred Schendel's electronic gadgets.) The song continues to build and reaches an amazing climax with two refrains being sung at the same time attempting to describe just what happens when Jesus is resurrected from the dead as one set of vocals is singing what is happening physically and the other is describing the spiritual ramifications. This is a very interesting song whether you believe in the historical figure of Jesus or not and you can hear it right here on Prog Archives. Give it a listen!

The album is wrapped up with "Heroes and Dragons" which is a light acoustic song but is perhaps my favorite with its soft, subtle sounds. The concept closes with a present day charge based upon what happened to Jesus two thousand years in the past.

I really like this album and think it is a worthy addition to any prog collection. If you want to give Glass Hammer a try, this is an excellent place to start.

Lofcaudio | 4/5 |

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