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Glass Hammer - The Middle Earth Album CD (album) cover


Glass Hammer

Symphonic Prog

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Symphonic Prog Specialist
3 stars Just another album based in the "Lord of the Rings" ? I don't believe so, its good but not great.

The production is excellent and the USA band has a great achievement in creating a perfect atmosphere, as if the album was a story told in a medieval bar, and that deserves some credit.

But the album has many problems one of them is that most of the music is too repetitive and looses the interest of the listener after two or three songs, that's why it's hard to describe this album track by track.

Another problem is that all the work done creating the perfect medieval atmosphere is useless if the album lacks of substance or strength and IMHO it is a bit weak in both aspects.

The best song without doubt is "Mithrandir", taken from their much better album "On to Evermore" where it was called "This Fading Age" and adapted to fit in this release, this track is one of the band's best efforts, great instrumentation and beautiful vocals, the song is wonderful.

"Middle Age Album" is not for everyone, If you're not familiar with the band you should better start with "Chronometree", "On to Evermore" or "Lex Rex" but if you're a Glass Hammer fan I see no reason to ignore it.

Report this review (#2929)
Posted Friday, April 30, 2004 | Review Permalink
1 stars Being a Tolkien admirer and fan, as well as a huge Glass hammer fan this CD really tickled my curiosity, so I couldn't wait to go out and buy it. After purchasing it, I rode back home immediatelly, went up to my music room, and put it in the player......but what a bummer.

It's not what you would expect from GH, not by a long shot. It's supposed to be a live recording of a group of minstrels traveling Middle earth, playing the prancing pony on this occasion. Look, I know that LOTR is escapism in the form of literature for all ages, but this concept just annoyed me. As said above, most cuts are ok, but you can't keep your attention to it the full length of the live bit.

The only songs worth listening in my opinion are the last three, non "live" ones....

After buying this I think I haven't played it more than twice.....that in comparison to let's say "Chronometree", which I think I must have listened a 100 times.

I'm sure it was a lot of fun making it for the guys of GH, I'm sure it took a lot of effort and creativity....but let's just stick to what you do best. If you DO decide to do a side project as this, then present it to the world as a fanclub thingy, as a gift upon purchasing a LOTR book, or at a really low selling rates.

Report this review (#2931)
Posted Sunday, November 21, 2004 | Review Permalink
4 stars I thoroughly enjoyed this album. The best songs were the live freeflowing minstrel tunes immersing the audience in the carefree lives of middle earth pleasures. Its a good fireside experience. So relax, don't be so critical, light your pipe and enjoy a good cup of ale from your wooden mug...cuz...thats all I'll hold. Cheers!
Report this review (#63733)
Posted Sunday, January 8, 2006 | Review Permalink
3 stars Having found this album in a used bin, I was anxious to spin it. What came forth seemed straight out of a tavern somewhere deep in Tolkien's Lord Of The Rings Hobbit/Troll infested world. Great fun! Imagine Gryphon, or say Amazing Blondel singing songs about Middle earth and you'll get a good idea what's on the first 6 tracks. Starting with "The Man In The Wood" things begin to change. No longer are you listening to baladeers singing to some rowdy folks. Now it's basically a prog band singing medival folk using modern equipment. I especially love the voice of Susie Bogdanowica on "Mirkwood" and "As I Walk". Beautiful! In fact, track 6 to the end is more modern then the first 6, so it's a bit off-putting but a nice change of pace. Now, prog-wise, you get the feeling it's a Glass Hammer album only when listening to the massive keyboards on "Sweet Goldberry", very Yes/ELPish, otherwise its mainly a folk prog affair. So in that aspect, I give it a rousing 3-stars.
Report this review (#67940)
Posted Thursday, February 2, 2006 | Review Permalink
1 stars I approached this Glass Hammer album with great suspicion. Another Tolkien derivate album?

The band did already produced one (their debut "Journey Of The Dunadan" which was a rather poor musical experience).

You can easily skip the first seven songs (which means more than half of this album). These are useless folk songs which are absolutely no interesting unless you organize a medieval party. To get almost thirty minutes of these troubadour oriented tracks is rather painful. And dull.

The mood remains folkish, but bearable with "Mirkwood". At least some true vocals and a comprehensive melody. The problem being that the next three tunes are just carbon copies. The dull mood is striking again.Hard.

I even start to miss their cloning music.Which is back with "Sweet Goldberry", to a certain extent.

The closing number provides a good overview of the whole: grotesque.

Same rating as "Journey Of The Dunadan": one star.

Report this review (#171224)
Posted Saturday, May 17, 2008 | Review Permalink
3 stars Another five GH CD's arrive at Chez Barnett (to complete the set of GH Studio recordings).This is the first to get the old lughole treatment (Lend an ear to). The first 7 tracks are all Medieval /Folksy efforts and I'm sort of positive that these tracks can be covered by the title of prog/quirky as they are supposed to be live renditions in a Middle-Earth tavern (like the Prancing Pony at Bree). These tracks don't do it for me and I'm thinking that this is a completionist CD and destined for a ONE STAR! But then starting with track 8 and through track 13, it's suddenly GH and their usual fayre of keyboard oriented Symphonic prog rock. The delightful of female vocals of Bogdanowicz are used and suddenly you can add on another STAR. You get back to nice keyboard and synth work and you add another STAR. This is still their worst effort I've listened to so far but it has five nice tracks to save it from the one star bargain bin, but not enough class to take this beyond 3.2. Probably leave this CD till last, unless you like medieval sounding ballads. Not for the symphonic prog rock purists, but I'll give it 3.2 Rounded down to 3 stars.
Report this review (#176546)
Posted Friday, July 11, 2008 | Review Permalink
Crossover & JR/F/Canterbury Teams
2 stars Huzzah!

I forsake thee. Go a-reaping in yonder field. Gather up bales of nerdbane, and take thy sword, Sting, the conqueror of the castrati Gordon Sumner, and venture off into the land of creatures known and unknown. You will vanquish d'Orcs, and the bloated Elvish Presleys before you complete thy quest.

2001. Steve Babb and Fred Schendel find that they were eight years too soon with their album dedicated to J.R.R. Tolkein's unreadable classic novels. So what to do? Do it again.

At least this one isn't as pitiful as Rick Wakeman's label repackaging some new age pieces with new names and calling the inspired by the books. But it isn't very food.

More than half of the album is made up of pseudo-celtic folky madrigals, played as if in a tevern, with a crowd singing along and pretending to enjoy the music. In fact, the songs are tedious. Most go on too long, and unless you are one of those who enjoys those character infested renaissance faires, are somewhat boring.

The second half of the album is a bit better, tending toward folkier pieces. The first song I can actually say that I like is Mithrandir (This Fading Age), which sounds almost like a Jon Anderson song. It is followed by Sweet Goldberry, the only song that could be called either prog or rock.

I'd recommend skipping this album.

Report this review (#712351)
Posted Friday, April 6, 2012 | Review Permalink

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