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Glass Hammer

Symphonic Prog

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5 stars The musical geniuses behind GLASS HAMMER have once again produced an absolutely fabulous concept album. This album is a melting pot of everything that is related to progressive rock: Hammond organ, Mellotron, Mini-Moog, extended instrumental passages, a beautiful cover-painting by artist Bruce Huffmann, a brilliant concept story and top quality songs. The lyrics tell the story about a young man who listens to his collection of progressive rock concept albums. When listening to the albums he begins to hear alien voices between and within' the songs, telling him to build a space machine in order to plan for a future alien arrival. The musicians are very talented, and Fred Schendel is without doubt one of the finest keyboard players around today in the progressive genre. Arjen Lucassen of AYREON is doing a guest appearance on this album playing additional lead guitars. The music is firmly rooted in the '70's progressive rock. Musical reminiscences that springs to mind are EMERSON, LAKE & PALMER, The FLOWER KINGS, GENESIS, NATHAN MAHL, PINK FLOYD, SPOCK'S BEARD, TRANSATLANTIC and YES. The track "Revelation" is a future all-time progressive classic. What we have here is one of the best progressive albums of the year, and it probably will stand the test of time and become a future classic. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED...!
Report this review (#2919)
Posted Tuesday, January 13, 2004 | Review Permalink
Dan Bobrowski
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Exceptional. Forget the whole concept thing, it's not important. What is important is the incredible musicality. Various snipets of prog masterpieces are reborn, especially the keyboard mastery of Keith Emerson and Rick Wakeman. You will find quotes from both musicians throughout this keyboard dominated recording.

A fourth star would be appropriate had another vocalist been used. Brad Marler is at times annoying, at others, downright horrible. The timbre of his voice is good, however, his striving to be emotive wreaks havoc on an awesome instrumental display.

Arjen Lucassen guests on guitar and offsets the barrage of keyboards. There is enough musical talent to give one reason to forgive the lousy vocals.

Report this review (#2920)
Posted Thursday, January 22, 2004 | Review Permalink
5 stars This is the type of music that makes for a well-balanced progressive diet. It's loaded with all the daily prog essentials: liberal use of keyboards and mellotron, deliciously complex music, layer upon tasty layer of vocal harmonies, and much more. Each experience rewards the listener with newly discovered nuances, tenderly tucked amid each expertly performed masterpiece. There isn't a bad piece on this album, and it definitely leaves the listener wanting more. After listening to music like Glass Hammer's, I can't help but wonder why prog never regained the popularity it enjoyed in the 60s and 70s. Of all the traits that describe prog, two of the biggest are true musicianship and song writing capabilities ... and Glass Hammer has both in abundance.
Report this review (#2924)
Posted Monday, December 27, 2004 | Review Permalink
3 stars I wasn't sure how many stars to give this one, three or four. Three and a half would have been the most accurate, I think. This is a fine album. Before this, the only one I possessed by Glass Hammer was Shadowlands. See my review under that title. This one I won't review track by track, as it is a concept album and should be heard as a whole. The plot, that the hero, Tom hears, through prog albums, aliens calling to him, is not particularly original, but interesting. Each track has the trade mark keyboards by Fred and Steve. Very impressive they are, too! And the guitar, whilst used more sparingly, is excellent. As may be expected, the overall effect, musically, brings to mind Yes. Maybe a touch of ELP is detectable also, but this band is too melodic for them really. No weak tracks here, but I especially like the quiet track 2, with the nice acoustic guitar running through it. Track 3 is also superb, and so are 5 & 6! In other words, it is hard to choose. I would recommend this to anyone who likes Yes, and believe it is best appreciated by listening to it all in one go. So, you may ask, why only three stars? Well, the one weakness here, as commented on by other reviewers, is the singing. Brad Marler, whoever he is, is certainly no singer! Whether he sings like this intentionally or not I don't know, but his voice really irritates one. He sort of drawls, sounding as if he is half drunk, or on some suspicious substance! Fred & Steve must have realised his voice was a drawback, as they handled most of the vocals themselves on the next two albums, improving the sound no end! Nevertheless, that one criticism aside, this is an excellent album. Go and get it! On another day, I would give this four stars.
Report this review (#2925)
Posted Saturday, February 5, 2005 | Review Permalink
2 stars Too many progressive bands are worshipping their roots. This one does it bad.

Is Glass Hammer one of the main bands in the prog industry? The answer of course is: no. Why? Whith an album like Lex Rex, this band should have jumped right in the main leagues. Lex Rex had it's influences but Chronometree is simply pumping the fuel directly from it's influences. And this time, it's not even influences, it's plagiarism. I honestly think that Babb and Schendel gave their own fingerprint with Lex Rex and stapled it harder with Shadowlands.

In this case, this is just too much for me.

The whole plan was to sound like a cross of ELP and Yes. Well, mission accomplished. And how. This album is very well done. The compositions have NOTHING to do with the dynamic of Lex Rex or Shadowlands. This is like a whole different band. The target of tributing ELP and Yes is so well fulfilled, that it's getting annoying. Come on guys!?! The heck is that?? Yes made and album named Relayer with more slide guitar. Check. ELP uses tons of blistering Hammond lines and time breaks. Check. And..well...that's it. Honestly the music is leaving me dead cold. I have a few ELP albums and some Yes too. So? So you don't need another mix of the two. Does the world really needs so much cloning? Par Lindh Project, Triumvirat or Magenta does it better at least.

Don't get me wrong, I love Glass Hammer. I even liked the less upbeat atmosphere of certain songs. Some are really great and snappy like Eldritch Wind and Chronotheme. I won't even be nasty towards the very, very, very average singing of whatever his name's. To give you an idea you could cross Simon Le Bon (duran duran) and Ziggy Stardust (david bowie)...but do it badly. Wof indeed. The plot is fun, though a little too prog-nerd for me.

Glass Hammer is a killer band. Their 2002 line up is too good to be true. But without Flo Parrish, Susie Bogdanowicz or Walter Moore on get an average tribute album of two of the biggest has-beens bands on the market.

Chronometree suffers of a major identity crisis, like Triumvirat or Magenta. But at least, with those two, the cloning is worth your money.

Frankly, you'd need a solar powered flashlight more than this one.

Report this review (#2926)
Posted Saturday, April 23, 2005 | Review Permalink
erik neuteboom
3 stars This album from the acclaimed USA progrock band Glass Hammer sounds in general as a tribute to "Tarkus" from ELP, especially the Hammon organ play is very similar to Keith Emerson. But Glass Hammer also features variation in their compositions: mellow parts with vocals, piano and Mellotron, delicate acoustic guitar (lots of flageolets) and synthesizer evoking mid-Genesis and wonderful Gilmourian slide guitar play. The two guest guitarists Terry Clouse (Somnambulist) and Arjen Lucassen (Ayreon) turn out to be great counterparts from the bombastic keyboards by delivering strong soli, interplay with the keyboards (Hammond and Mellotron) and duo-guitarwork.

This is not progrock at the level of Spock's Beard or Ayreon, the vocals sound sometimes a bit affectuated but the songs are mature and pleasant for all those who like ELP and that kind of progrock.

Report this review (#47849)
Posted Thursday, September 22, 2005 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
2 stars Glass Hammer's blend of spectacular synth voyages and awful vocal segments is perhaps at its most frustrating on Chronometree. Unlike subsequent albums Lex Rex and Shadowlands, where the cloying female vocals (usually belonging to Susie Bogdanowicz) do the trick, here we have the weak 80s pop-rock tones of Bard Marler. I must say that I started my Glass Hammer experience with Shadowlands, and then worked my way backwards. After hearing Chronometree, I decided to stop.

This album is more of a group effort than Lex Rex and Shadowlands. For a start, Fred Schendel is mainly on keyboards instead of going the multi-instrumentalist route that those albums would see him take. The result is a stronger presence of guitar ( Ayreon mainstay Arjen Lucassen guests on lead guitar alongside Marler and a couple of others), but the highlights are still the Emersonian keyboards of Empty Space Revealer and Revelation, and some gorgeous synth work on Chronotheme.

It is perhaps telling that the most "unspoiled" track on this album is the scintillating instrumental Shapes Of The Morning ... which clocks in at less than 2 minutes long! I don't want to give you the impression that there aren't moments of exquisite joy on this album, because there are, but way too many songs sparkle, burst into fire spectacularly and then fizzle out.

In fact, it's not just the tepid vocals, but the surprisingly uneven (and frequently quite dull) compostions that give this album an aimless, incoherent feel that make it the worst of the three Glass Hammer albums I am familiar with. Chronometree stands as a particularly striking example of a band wasting its talents. ... 48% on the MPV scale

Report this review (#65802)
Posted Saturday, January 21, 2006 | Review Permalink
3 stars Glass Hammer has created an entertaining album full of gutsy hammond runs, soaring synth lines, washes of melotron and a bit of flamboyant guitar work. Comparisons could fall more on the Emerson/Wakeman side of progginess, rather than the Howe/Fripp/ Hackett side.

The storyline is unique and humorous, and may have been the reason that composers Steve Babb and Fred Schendel chose to work with vocalist Brad Marler. There are quite a few folks who don't seem to care for Mr. Marler's voice, but I suspect that his slightly- stoned, desperate-sounding vocals may have struck the band as perfect for bringing the part of "Tom", the album's protagonist, to life. Note that Marler does not appear on the follow-up release, "Lex Rex."

While the arrangements contain the tricky time signature and key changes endemic to prog, each piece is sufficiently melodic to entice the listener back for subsequent visits.

The biggest disappointment I've found with this otherwise strong effort lies in the inconsistent mixing of the bass parts. Where Babb's bass lines are clear, powerful and distinct on the opening cut, "All in Good Time," his bass guitar and/or bass pedal work in the otherwise magnificent "Chonos Deliverer" is hardly audible, keeping that fine song from attaining even more grandeur than the slide guitar, organ and choirs alone can muster.

Nonetheless, I suggest that anyone who needs a new Yes, ELP, or even SB/Transatlantic fix check these guys out. "Chronometree" is a fine place to start.

Report this review (#80134)
Posted Friday, June 2, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars Perhaps my favoutite Glass Hammer album, although not one of the best rated around here... The keyboards are just magnificent, specially the (real?) Hammond, on which a very good amoiunt of this music is based upon. It has also great melodies among some spectacular bombast moments, which makes this album listening a pleasurable trip in the concepts story.
Report this review (#81207)
Posted Thursday, June 15, 2006 | Review Permalink
3 stars Strangely, I quite like this album. I say strangely because I actually walked out of their performance at Nearfest. They did open the show with a song from this album, which was promising to me, but I'm afraid the performance of Lex Rex bored me to tears.

But back to this album. This is pure retro prog through and through. Since the "concept" deals with an old college buddy who felt his Yes albums had secret messages from an alien race that were giving him some great secret about time travel or something, it seems appropriate that Yes, ELP, and even Kansas type passages abound on this album. There are some keyboard parts that will make you think you accidentally put on an ELP album instead of this one. However, this is not really a criticism for me in this instance, because I think it all works very well. Arjen Luccassen (of Ayreon) fame is a guest on this album and some of his blazing guitar work can be heard early in the album.

The album is, in essence, a single piece of music divided into two parts separated by two individual pieces (A Perfect Carousel and Chronos Deliverer). The main suite is quite good, if very retro, with excellent playing and composition in the best 70's prog rock tradition. The lyrics are often amusing, relating the tale of Tom and his strange obsession fueled by bong hits and 70's prog albums. Occasionally, they are even somewhat profound (An Eldritch Wind). Some complain about Brad Marler's vocals. Personally, I found them to be quite refreshing on a prog album. The music may be solid retro, but the vocals are very "alternative pop radio" sounding. This could be a total disaster of course, but somehow Brad makes it work. On his solo composition, A Perfect Carousel, featuring just him and a 12 string guitar along with some atmospheric moog in the second half, he comes across like an earnest Dave Mathews. But again, it works well for me for some reason. The other individual piece, Chronos Deliverer, is something of an overblown choir piece with lots of keyboards and an "angelic" type of melody. Not a highlight, but not terrible either. Still, it is the main suite that makes this worth hearing I think.

So overall, not a masterpiece and not necessarily essential. For me, it kind of is since I still pull it out and listen to it from time to time. To fans of the band I'd say it's a must have (though I'm not really sure where most die hard fans put this in relation to their other albums that I have not heard). For me then, a solid 3.5 stars. For the archives, rounded down to 3.

Report this review (#117393)
Posted Thursday, April 5, 2007 | Review Permalink
2 stars Each Glass Hammer album sounded like a tribute band to the magical Yes. With "Chronometree", they will dramatically evolve in their musical direction.

They will now complete it with deep similarities with ELP as well. What a change! We'll get now a morph of Keith Wakeman. Big deal!

Musical passages are at times pleasant ("Empty Spaces", "Revelation", "Chronoverture") at times frankly boring ("An Eldritch Wind"). I guess that there are audiences for such an album which is deeply rooted in the mid-seventies sound which I praise so much, but preferably when performed by the genuine artists.

But, I'm often inclined to pardon some of these tributes, depending on my mood I guess. The instrumental "Chronotheme" injects some Crimsonian sounds during the opening, but ends on the same ELP-ish keyboard sounds. The worse moment is probably the YesBallad "A Perfect Carousel". Gosh!

This is not a bad album, but déjŕ vu a hundred times. Creativity is not on the rendezvous. Two stars.

Report this review (#170447)
Posted Saturday, May 10, 2008 | Review Permalink
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 ŕ 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.


Report this review (#171769)
Posted Tuesday, May 20, 2008 | Review Permalink
Tarcisio Moura
2 stars Honestly, Glass Hammer is one of those bands I think I should love to love. After all, almost every element I like about symphonic rock is here: charging Hammonds, Howe-like guitar parts, classical quotes, lush mellotrons and so on. Still they lack something most of their counterparts like The Flower Kings or Magenta have: a personality. Glass Hammer does not have somenone to church out songs as strong as a Rob Reed or a Roine Stolt: the group´s songwriting is their weakest point. They are superb muscians, no doubt. The arrangements are also tasteful, but the songs themselves have few memorable melodies or hooks. The vocals are also not par to the band´s outstanding instrumental prowness.

After repeated spins my feelings are the same: good, but not exciting. Some pleasant moments here and there, but not in an even flow. Production is also ok: not bad, not too bright.

If you like the so called retro prog very much you should try this one. But that´s about all I recommend. There I should warn everyone that there are better bands doing this kind of stuff in a more interesting way than Glass Hammer. A pity, because they are terrific players. If they improve their songwriting (and maybe with another singer) then I guess they can get to a higher level.

Report this review (#172530)
Posted Thursday, May 29, 2008 | Review Permalink
4 stars What can I say about this CD? First listening and the standout feature is the Emersonesque Hammond with Howe/Relayer Slide guitar featured throughout. Thus ELP and Yes influenced, but that would be doing this a VERY BIG INJUSTICE to dismiss this effort as derivative as some of the reviewers have. Sure, the singer isn't going to be everybodies cup of tea but I mainly just treat vocals as part of the music and I reckon that the singer takes nothing away. But the music, starts good and just gets BETTER and BETTER, in fact I would have to conclude that Chronos Deliverer, (track six) gave me the biggest first-listening buzz that I have has since first hearing Cinema Show back in 1977 when I first heard Genesis. How can this CD only get a 2 oe 3 stars when some of the dross that makes it into the top 50 albums is a mystery to me. This is a PROGRESSIVE ROCK site and this CD is quite clearly a welcome addition to any collection due to it's fusion of ELP/Yes with a bit of Camel and Genesis thrown in for good measure, GET THIS if you're a true devotee of Symphonic progressive rock, but only if you are open to clearly influenced, technically executed keyboard orientated prog. I'd give this 4.75, but round down to 4, time to have a scoring system from 1-100 me thinks.
Report this review (#175071)
Posted Tuesday, June 24, 2008 | Review Permalink
Neo Prog Team
4 stars This is the first album I heard from Glass Hammer, and I still have to ask myself, how does this only average 2.92 on PA? It's miles better than that in my opinion.

I know that some people are critical of this US symphonic outfit, citing them as copyist. I disagree. Whilst the Hammond does remind very strongly of ELP, overall I think Glass Hammer have their own sound which is instantly recognisable. Keyboards are to the fore but do not underestimate the contribution of Fred Schendel on guitar.

Glass Hammer have produced a top-notch symphonic prog offering here. The music is pompy, dramatic and appeals perfectly to me. It's a concept album about Tom, who hears aliens talking to him through his prog albums. It's an interesting concept, but one the band approach with tongue in cheek.

The musicianship throughout is superb. The vocals are undoubtedly the weak point. They don't grate particularly with me, but would improve greatly on subsequent albums.

Highlights are many. The fast paced opener, Empty Space, laced with Emerson-esque Hammond segues into the brilliant Revealer. This is a very progressive and dramatic piece featuring the main Chronometree theme. Many excellent themes feature within this 5 minute number and in my opinion all could have been greatly expanded. Plenty of dramatic chord changes and gorgeous mellotron to end. Superb.

Chronometry is a very melancholic track, washes of mellotron throughout and ace warbling synths. The pompous chorus section is tremendous, very dramatic. I love this track.

Chronos Deliverer is as good as anything on the album. The memorable theme is backed by a marching rhythm and there is a dazzling array of synths throughout which wash over the listener. A top guitar solo from Fred Schendel too.

Waiting/Watching The Sky closes the album with more lashes of mellotron, and a return to the main them. A fitting climax to a superb album.

A solid 4 stars for this excellent album. If you're a Glass Hammer fan you'll love it, however I would strongly recommend this to all fans of symphonic progressive rock.

Report this review (#182017)
Posted Monday, September 8, 2008 | Review Permalink
Eclectic Prog Team
4 stars There's a heavy ELP flavor to this album, and it makes me wonder if that band wouldn't have sounded like this if they'd been more than trio. It's excellent overall, but there's an awful lot of flaws that must be overcome. Once that task is taken care of, this is one extremely enjoyable album, especially musically. The lead vocals are really slippery, which is a strange adjective to use, and sometimes they're a good fit, but sometimes they make me think, "What were these guys thinking- this sounds awful!" Still, if that can be overlooked, the music is exceptional.

"Empty Space / Revealer" Lovely ELP-like organ and drumming begin this promising first track. However, unlike ELP, there's some excellent guitar passages with Mellotron drifting underneath. Sweet steel guitar over piano makes for an interesting quiet interlude, but overall this is a fantastic way to kick off an album.

"An Eldritch Wind" This has such a beautiful introduction, with acoustic guitar, autoharp, synthesizer, electric piano, and eventually gorgeous harmonics.

"Revelation" No other track sounds more like ELP than this one, with the shuffling rhythms, complex arrangements, and that organ tone. Peaceful strings then introduce the bass and odd vocals (fed through effects as they are). The lead vocals later on can be painful, but otherwise, this is a standout track.

"Chronotheme" The rhythm section is what the beginning of this one is all about. Heavy guitar and organ run about over it until an amazing synthesizer lead enters. It is a brilliant piece of music with lots of lovely layers.

"A Perfect Carousel" If this were an ELP album, this would be the obligatory Greg Lake acoustic track. However, it sounds nothing like that. This is largely due to the dynamic vocalist, who actually sounds unique on this track. Of course there's the synthesizer solo, which is actually quite fantastic.

"Chronos Delivere" Stark acoustic guitar begins an otherwise clothed track, full of keyboards and screaming electric guitar. A lovely choir assumes control for a bit, singing Vivaldi.

"Shapes Of The Morning" Organ, piano, synthesizer, bass, guitar, and drums make up the main part of this instrumental. While short, it is an astounding piece of music.

"Chronoverture" Piano from the previous track begins this one. It is full of delightful flourishes and dynamics, and then an organ accompanies it. The piece suddenly becomes another ELP-like track (as though the track marker were misplaced between this one and the previous one). For the most part, this track is an exercise in keyboard dynamics and wonderfulness, from synthesizer, to organ, to piano, and I love hearing it.

"The Waiting" Synthetic strings bridge the way for an introduction of organ. The middle section is a haunting bit with drums, good bass, and keys, but inexplicably gives way to acoustic guitar and the singing of that slippery lead singer. Lovely strings introduce the end.

"Watching The Sky" Hand drums, whistles, and flutes conclude the album in a short instrumental.

Report this review (#219398)
Posted Monday, June 1, 2009 | Review Permalink
4 stars I was in a music store, once, and a huge prog-fan suggested this to me. Without listening, but only after talking on my preferred ones and on the style of GH... I bought it. It was in about 2001 !! There I am now rating and describing it, on my way on going for all GH CD's. Another note on this : in those years, I went for buying a new CD player / amp, and I brought a few CD's, including this one. I tried music suggested (and owned) by the dealer, along with Chronometree. The specialist (HiFi store) said that the sound quality of this opus from GH was... surpassing the ones he let me listen to ! It was the first track. So, if you want to test a sound system, I suggest "Empty Space & Revealer". You have everything in the whole range of frequencies plus a superb quality and a good prog song !

Chrono- is of course characterized by the keyboard sounds of Fred, one of the very best in the business (I see him easily in the Top-5). You now see more what you can look for : it is keyboard/mellotron/moog oriented. Some might dislike (and they are not shy to show it, when we see very low ratings here !), but I have to say it delights me. Unfortunately, there are moments I often jump over, because of the unusual voice of the singer (tracks #2 and 5, which are ballads), on which that bad effect is more apparent. However, the others are excellent. The first track is power, energy, odd-tempo rythms, with the main theme well developped and easy to recognize on other tracks. All the other tracks are all excellent, wherein the compositions are much complex, with tempo changes, solos and a good presence of guitar (of course ! Arjen Lucassen participated). Plus the all-CD concept idea of communicating with outer-space... The excellent ones are then "Revelation", "Chronotheme", tracks #7-8 who are linked featuring a few superb Fred's solos, "The Waiting" which is high- power... and my favorite "Chronos Deliverer" all-instrumental (remember my comment on the singer's voice !). I tried to learn it on my keyboard, and it looks easy; but, it is not, because of the tone and intensity changes. A remarkable effect, and it should be added that it does not sound like a lot of other prog songs; quite distinct and unique. When they play this one 'live', they are 3 keyboardists !

With Chronometree, GH became my favorite prog-2000 group for some years, and especially when I discovered the rest, before and after Chrono. Their main quality, after you know the keys are omnipresent, is the production. And my favorites ones are "Lex Rex" and "Inconsolable Secret". Unfortunately, I get less and less satisfaction with the recent ones (coming soon...).

I think the low points are less important in this one, than the strong ones. And a global score of 4/5 appears to me to be reflecting my feelings. And... the cover is nice !

Report this review (#440523)
Posted Friday, April 29, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars What I find annoying about a lot of these reviews is the fact that people compare this to GH classics such as Shadowlands, Lex Rex, and so forth, when this album is, IN FACT, the predeseccor of those albums, dating from 2000! It's never been a secret that these musicians started playing prog after listening to bands such as ABWH, Yes, ELP, and a lot more. Heck, Chronometree's story is about a guy who hears stuff in between lines while listening to Yes' Close to the edge!!

Those facts stated and any preconceptions put aside, here's my two cents worth.

This was the first GH album I bought, mainly because Arjen Anthony Lucassen played on it. But boy was I in for a treat! I heard so many superb synths, mellotrons, B3 Rhodes, along with great guitar work, wrapped up in clever compositions, even the not so typical singer somehow added to he strange brew.

To this day I find this album one of the most intriguing GH albums to listen to, it's raw, it's off beat, it's like GH dared to enter a universe in which they never returned to since. At times it's tender, sometimes it's a barrage of sounds, but all in good ballance and harmony. It's experimental, yet recognisable......the word ''mesmerising'' comes to mind. Downsides are : the fact that the drum sounds bland and electric at times, and the singer's lyrics can be hard to understand at times, especially when he is slurring through his song.

Yet, this album is pure, short, and precious. And to me a show of impressive restraint. Something the guys from GH lost along the way sometimes, which they retained when Jon Davison entered the play in later years. From THAT point on there's no more denying these guys want to settle down on the shores where YES once resided.......Only time will tell if that'll ever happen.

4 out of 5 stars

Report this review (#586572)
Posted Sunday, December 11, 2011 | Review Permalink
Crossover & JR/F/Canterbury Teams
4 stars By the year 2000 it appears that Fred Schendel and Steve Babb with their group Glass Hammer have settled into a pattern of paying homage to some of the seventies masters of progressive rock. On this album, there are hints of Rick Wakeman's synths and Steve Howe's sliding guitar, but the focus is on a very percussive Hammond organ. Yes, Schendel was channelling the spirit of Keith Emerson on this album, right down to the wild solos.

For the most part, the compositions only vaguely resemble ELP, they tend to be more fully orchestrated, and sound a bit more mainstream than the bombastic trio in their prime. That does not make them less enjoyable. It's more like the sound of Emerson sitting in with Glass Hammer. Only two pieces, Chronoverture and The Waiting have a true ELP feeling all around, and they are placed near the end.

But you know what? I love classic ELP, and any strong attempt to honor them is a good thing.

Report this review (#708568)
Posted Wednesday, April 4, 2012 | Review Permalink
Symphonic Team
3 stars Glass Hammer's "Chronometree" is a 2000 album that shows the band melding their Yes influences with ELP, and it works for the most part. Unfortunately the band did not have a decent singer with Brad Marler, and he often sounds stoned or just uninterested ruining much of the material on here. The musicianship is at times incredible, particularly the Hammond and lead guitar.

The big Hammond sound gloriously dominates "Empty Space and Revealer" with Mellotron swathes and steel guitar cascading over piano.

"An Eldritch Wind" is ambient and spacey with some relaxed vocals, not the greatest that Glass Hammer will experience but adequate. There are beautiful textures of autoharp, electric piano, and a steady percussion.

"Revelation/ Chronometry" is the big ELP happy organ sound, unmistakeable with complex 'Tarkus' ferocity and intricate 'Karn Evil 9' delirium all rolled up into a glorious package. The organ is incredible from Fred Schendel and it really is his show piece. There are nice sliding guitar tones from the incomparable Arjen Lucassen too. There are more vocals eventually from Brad Marler that are more unwelcome than embraced as they are rather toneless. I do like the bass heartbeat on this.

"Chronotheme" has a fantastic rhythm section with lashings of heavy guitar riffing. The Hammond runs are off the scale and then spacey synth takes over on another highlight of the album, an instrumental.

"A Perfect Carousel" is the acoustic ballad, another carbon copy of Lake's style. The vocals are actually better but still lack that emotion necessary, and they seem to get worse the more the song progresses. It has a pretty melody especially the acoustics. The synthesizer solo is not Emerson by a long shot but still satisfactory.

"Chronos Deliverer" is very dramatic, majestic and has the angelic choral vocals of Susie Bogdanowicz, Jamie Watkins, and Sarah Snyder. The spacey synths are backed by soaring lead guitar tones. It even throws in Vivaldi as the music builds to a crescendo.

"Shapes Of The Morning" is another instrumental with a ton of electric piano, swooping synths, fast fingered organ and pounding drums. The lead guitar soars beautifully with virtuoso playing. It is perhaps the best track as Brad Marler shuts up!

"Chronoverture" is an instrumental that begins with minimalist piano beautifully played, joined by cathedral organ. It explodes into Emerson territory and a striking quick tempo locks in. I like the shimmering Hammond and the way the lead guitar chimes in. It is a show pony for Fred Schendel who is stunning on keyboards. The way the tempo shifts is a fabulous touch on this definitive highlight.

"The Waiting" is the return of those horrid vocals, but the Hammond tries to drown them out without success. Symphonic strings herald the melody and staccato blasts of bass and drums are effective. It is a heavier song with dark synth tones and pounding percussion. "Watching The Sky" is a dumb short piece of weirdness driven by minimalist drums, whistles, and flutes.

Overall this album lacks a great deal, although there are some inspired moments. It has a weird concept about aliens calling from the netherverse while a guy plays a prog rock album, but it matters not. The vocals are the worst thing about it but it has some wonderful instrumental sections, and thankfully many tracks are devoid of any vocals. I would certainly not recommend it as a starting point because Glass Hammer are capable of so much more.

Report this review (#868762)
Posted Friday, November 30, 2012 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars For their next work the duo of Fred Schendel and Steve Babb would focus on writing a concept album about a fan of Prog Rock, becoming obsessed with his records to the point he thinks they talk to him!Walter Moore is again among the participants, but lead voices are now a resposibility of newcomer Brad Marler.They also invited Terry Clouse from Somnambulist to help out on lead guitars, while Prog Metal hero Arjen Lucassen makes also additional appearances on electric guitar.The album's line-up becomes complete with Susie Bogdanowicz, Jamie Watkins and Sarah Snyder on backing vocals and ''Chronometree'' is released in May 2000 on the band's Arion label.

Glass Hammer appear to be the American answer to THE FLOWER KINGS, but this time, apart from the evident YES influence, there are some strong E.L.P. vibes throughout the album due to the frequent use of Hammond organ and the display of some jazzier keyboard interludes next to the bombastic side of Symphonic Rock.With each release the songwriting and overall arrangements of Glass Hammer sound more tight, cohesive and eventually convincing.They have this recognizable American flavor of new US Prog bands through the ethereal vocals and the more pompous vocal/instrumental deliveries, but the music is heavily influenced by the British Prog scene.This time there are some beautiful vocal melodies and sweet instrumental flashes placed next to the more virtuosic organ-drenched offerings and powerful keyboard solos, while the presence of an accomplished little team on guitars adds some great guitar moves and solos.The album lacks long, epic tracks, but the musicianship is always proggy and highly symphonic with references both to modern and old trends, organ and Mellotron sit next to dreamy synthesizers and plenty of Classical piano lines.The best asset of this fourth studio album comes from the trully memorable tunes and the presence of a great singer in the unknown Brad Madler.The result is a pretty satisfying Neo/Symphonic Prog effort with emphasis on delightful keyboard themes, but also some great guitar work.

The strongest work of Glass Hammer from the 1990-2000 decade.Progressive Rock with an exhibition of romantic melodies, grandiose orchestrations and E.L.P.-styled masturbations.Strongly recommended...3.5 stars.

Report this review (#1318558)
Posted Monday, December 1, 2014 | Review Permalink
4 stars When I hear something of GL, I think: is more a prog tribute to classics of progrock. In this case is the same, but is more fantastic tribute. As a big fan of Elp I love this album, not only for this. A grand advantage of a lot of albuns of Gl is a mix of other elements that make sounds different. The sounds involving psychedelic elements of spacial/alien history. This psychedelic voices in ballads and the bass sounds create a immersion into history. In other had, I think if you are a big fan of ELP albuns but there are albuns that don't like, hear this. The theme "chronommetree" is in a whole of album inspired in the sounds of hammonds. Is right the criticism of variety of sounds of GL sounds only a tribute for 70's prog rock bands, but is don't take away the merit of a lot of GL albuns. For me is more a ELP album don't done for ELP as TRIUMVIRAT. 4 stars for fantastic ELP inspired album and immersion history
Report this review (#1651374)
Posted Friday, December 2, 2016 | Review Permalink

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