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Glass Hammer - A Matter of Time - Volume 1 CD (album) cover


Glass Hammer

Symphonic Prog

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4 stars A Biased, Affectionate, Respectful Review

A Matter of Time

Time: nearly 30 years now (!) that two colleagues and friends with a common love of progressive rock music and fine literature (J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis anyone?), decided to join forces to create what for me has become a stellar outpouring of complex, exuberant, grand, sometimes epic music.

Time: It's an invention, one that marks the human journey; bigger brains that mine tell me it's relative- seconds can drag, hours can speed by, and personally, here I am nearing the last legs of my own journey- and GLASS HAMMER has been part of that journey for almost half of it.


These two- Fred Schendel and Steve Babb- then began to gather about them a community which has continued to grow and to branch out as communities when thriving will do. On this particular release, Fred and Steve called upon their percussion powerhouse Aaron Raulston, and some musicians like Dave Bainbridge, Walter Moore, Reese Boyd, and Hannah Pryor to flesh out a fundamental reworking and revisiting of music from their earliest albums, "Journey of the Dunadan", "Perelandra", and "On to Evermore".

Glass: Easily shattered, forged in fire, translucent, multi-hued, prismatic.

Hammer: An instrument of construction, hard-driving, useful, a potential weapon.

And of course, one of those contradictions when placed together- yet it somehow creates something more than the sum of its parts.

The Music

GLASS HAMMER has placed itself squarely in the symphonic progressive rock realm utilizing classically-based, grand, eloquent layers of keyboards and sizzling synthesizers and piano, crunchy and active bass guitar lines, complex and intertwined compositions in which one line grows, changes, is taken up by guitar, shifts to piano and bass, drums come pummeling in, mellotrons are added for heft or mystery, vocals bring back the grandeur, lyrics speak of heartbreak, conquest, loss, victory- and hope. Guitarists have come and gone, but the best ones have utilized tasteful acoustic and clean guitar work as well as some soaring leads. For my money, Kamran Alan Shikoh was the guitarist who was with the outfit long enough to bring a lot of sass, pizzazz, and class to the guitar input.

On "A Matter of Time" my impression is that this collection begins and ends very well. To my ears it loses momentum as it goes, and picks up again toward the ending of this album. Although as a committed listener, there's nothing bad here, it's hard to match "Lliusion", "Felix the Cat", and "Heaven".


It takes love, grit, and time to rework old material, and what this album has accomplished is a chance to revisit and to re-hear the beginnings of GLASS HAMMER. When GLASS HAMMER is in full stride, they match the finest of outpourings from any progressive rock outfit you care to name- the grand, the stirring, the heartfelt, the bold, the positive, the lyrical, all reaching upward and striving onward, all of which for me at least makes progressive music the ultimate musical form.

They bring the requisite musical mastery- their instruments, their compositions, their ideas and concepts, and certainly have demonstrated a vision and commitment that has lasted nearly thirty years. At the core, Schendel and Babb have put forth from the beginning music that has stood the test of time- I told you up front I'm biased and respectful and affectionate.

To Sum It Up

Long may they run, these two friends, this community of musicians, this level of commitment and positivity and clear- eyed vision- our sad and suffering planet needs such as this. I rate this one four symphonic stars- "an excellent addition to any progressive rock music collection".

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Posted Tuesday, August 17, 2021 | Review Permalink

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