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SHADOWLANDS

Glass Hammer

Symphonic Prog


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Glass Hammer Shadowlands album cover
3.71 | 165 ratings | 31 reviews | 22% 5 stars

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Studio Album, released in 2004

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. So Close, So Far (9:50)
2. Run Lisette (10:29)
3. Farewell To Shadowlands (7:30)
4. Longer (9:51)
5. Behind The Great Beyond (20:27)

Total Time: 58:08

Lyrics

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Music tabs (tablatures)

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Line-up / Musicians

- Fred Schendel / Hammond organ, mellotron, mini-moog, synths, keyboards, acoustic, electric and slide guitar (lead and rhythm), auto harp, recorders, drums, and backing vocals
- Steve Babb / bass, keys, mellotron, assorted analog synths, and backing vocals
- Walter Moore / vocals
- Susie Bogdanowicz / vocals

Releases information

Arion Records

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GLASS HAMMER Shadowlands ratings distribution


3.71
(165 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(22%)
22%
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(39%)
39%
Good, but non-essential (29%)
29%
Collectors/fans only (6%)
6%
Poor. Only for completionists (3%)
3%

GLASS HAMMER Shadowlands reviews


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Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Greger
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars Glass Hammer is back with a new album called "Shadowlands". Their lengthy compositions have come to a peak on this album. There are 5 songs that range from 7:30 to 20:26 minutes. But most important of it all, they keep the interest the whole songs through with lots of variation, memorable melodies and lengthy intricate instrumental passages. Here they have managed to write an album with the same high standard as their "Chronometree" (2000) and "Lex Rex" (2002) albums. The composer qualities are almost as good as The Flower Kings, only that The Flower Kings have an even more frequent release schedule.

I can't understand why Glass Hammer hasn't reached a bigger audience. I don't think they are considered being one of "the big names" in progressive rock, but they surely belong among them. Glass Hammer is to me one of the absolutely best American progressive rock bands today, with not a single bad album in their catalogue.

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Send comments to Greger (BETA) | Report this review (#26313) | Review Permalink
Posted Friday, January 09, 2004

Review by lor68
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars To me this work is a backward step in comparison to "Lex Rex", but it's very good. In fact the whole album is a bit inferior than "Lex Rex", from the point of view of its dynamics and variety as well, regarding of the "layout" of the suites and of its quite usual orchestrations too!!

But the output is anyway excellent, except on some weak rhythmical parts... The melodies sometimes are in the vein of the works by TEARS FOR TEARS, in other circumstances such songs are more similar to the harmonic solutions by the US prog band ECHOLYN (listen to the chorus section of the 1st track).Therefore the magical and simple interplay between the guitars and the keyboards, enriched by means of an epic atmosphere, makes this album well worth checking out!! Of course I prefer some less prolix parts from "Lex Rex", but anyway the melodies (sometimes resembling some works by YES, like "Going for the One", within track #2) are often interesting, even though a bit tiring during the development of the last suite!!Otherwise you should prefer much more such complexity, in comparison to their most melodic and easier as well previous work "Lex Rex"!! Check it out and make your personal choice!!

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Send comments to lor68 (BETA) | Report this review (#26316) | Review Permalink
Posted Wednesday, March 31, 2004

Review by Marcelo
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars GLASS HAMMER is, IMHO, the best current American prog band. With "Shadowlands", perhaps, they don't reach the high standard of their masterpiece "Chronometree", but they put again an album plenty of creativity. The band sounds mature and even refined, showing its strong YES influence through five long elaborated and complex tracks, full of synths and vintage elements, nice melodies and great interplay between male and female voices.

"Run Lisette" and the twenty minutes suite "Behind The Great Beyond" (this one with a beautiful classical introduction) are standing out, and there's a prog version of Dan Fogelberg's very nice song "Longer", but composition and playing quality are always impeccable.

"Shadowlands" is an excellent cd, and -even when it isn't a masterpiece- I think it's one of the serious candidates to the best 2004 album. Recommended specially to 70's music lovers, particularly to YES fans.

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Send comments to Marcelo (BETA) | Report this review (#26317) | Review Permalink
Posted Monday, April 26, 2004

Review by Menswear
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars After the epic and generous Lex Rex, Glass Hammer should not stand as loners like they do. It's really too bad they don't reach out like Spock's Beard or Dream Theater in America. Here in Canada, they practically don't exist. What a shame. While Britney and Jay-Z are rocking the charts and drive a Benz, some bands shovel manure.

Glass Hammer still amazes with professionalism and lush pieces of music. As usual, the keyboard is taking the spotlight but also, the vocal harmonies are pretty. Especially the ones with girls. I'm sorry but I have a real sweet spot for bands that own girls (Anglagard, Magenta) . It's fun to see them get carried away on stage (Lex rex DVD) and bringing...hem...I'd say more class and light hearted grace. Guys will always be guys and a woman or two sure pretty up the face of a band.

Run Lisette is a great example of how pretty, light feminine voices push up a song and give an epic side to a story. Can't get enough of light and vaporizing chant like this.

Sure, this ain't Lex Rex. Too bad, the concept got dropped. But Babb and Schendel gave a mega boost on production and sound quality. Pheww, that record's sound is clear as mountain water. Expect vintage approach and a true meaning of symphonic rock.

A final word on Glass Hammer, they are not part of the star system. And there's the difference between a star and an artist: a star has a gift from God (beauty, voice, strenght, intelligence). But an artist has a GIFT PLUS TALENT. A star is nothing without the star system. An artist is going against the system.

This is why Glass Hammer is misunderstood and underrated. And this is why I love prog.

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Send comments to Menswear (BETA) | Report this review (#26320) | Review Permalink
Posted Friday, November 12, 2004

Review by chessman
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars After reading reviews of this band, I downloaded "Run Lisette" from this site, and then visited the official Glass Hammer site and downloaded "So Close, So Far". The first time I played these tracks, I wasn't sure how I felt. Both sounded to me like a mish-mash of sounds. But, on playing them a second time, something clicked in my head, and I realised both tracks were excellent! Therefore, I took a chance and purchased the album. Comparisons to Yes and Elp are not really accurate, except in the keyboard department, although there is the occasional touch of Steve Howe guitar. Vocally, this group is a million miles from both of the aforementioned bands. Nevertheless, this band stands up very well on its own, needing no comparisons. the opener, "So Close, So Far", is excellent, with acoustic guitar leading into a complex piece of music. The middle of the song has some nice guitar, with the lovely and plaintive female vocals adding an extra dimension to the song. The male vocals, I have to say though, are adequate and workman like, but not startlingly brilliant. The end of the song has some nice chord changes to finish it off. What suprised me about this, is the amount of guitar on the song. Although keyboards are the dominant instrument on the whole album, there is far more guitar than you would at first expect. And it is played very professionally too. Schendel and Babb are obviously the descendants of Mike Oldfield when it comes to multi-instrumentalism! The second track is very complex again. I won't say what it is about, as it is always nice for the listener to discover such things himself. Again though, the playing is very professional, and the whole production is clean, clear and bright. Plenty of tempo changes here and some nice organ, sounding somewhat like Rick Wakeman, around the time of Going For The One, whilst the guitar is, in parts, again like Steve Howe from the same album. The lyrics have to be listened to carefully as there is a section where two distinct voices sing different things at the same time. Even harder to dissect is a similar thing near the end of the song, where in fact three voices sing different things! Even if you read the lyrics at the same time as you listen, it can be hard to differentiate between them. This is an excellent track though. Next we have "Farewell To Shadowlands", the shortest track on the album, at 7.30. It is one of my favourites though. The impression I got whilst listening to it is of a girl walking down a forest singing to comfort herself. The lyrics convey this image to the listener, but the music also does this, even if you don't pay attention to the words. That is how it came across to me, anyway! The song starts with nice bass, drums and keyboards, a touch of guitar wafting melodically over it. The whole thing progresses and builds up, the keyboards dominating, until the slide guitar takes over and leads into the vocals. The keyboards are always present though, and the whole sound is sonically tremendous. The female voice, with a trace of echo on it, suits this track very well indeed. Then comes more keyboards, in classic Yes style, bringing to my mind parts off the "Relayer" album. A very good and, again, technically complex song. The fourth track is "Longer", a cover version of the old Dan Fogelberg song. This is, comparatively, the weakest track, in my opinion. It is still very good though, starting off with solitary piano, which turns into an organ sound, and builds up nicely, drums coming in unobtrusively. Then the melody is played, Rick Wakeman style, and the song bursts into action. The lyrics here, whilst ok, don't seem to fit in with the rest of the album, as this is really a standard love song, whilst the singing, despite some nice harmonies, is never more than average. Nevertheless, musically it fits in with the overall style of the album, and is still enjoyable. Finally comes the 'epic' track on the album, "Behind The Great Beyond", coming in at over 20 mins. This has an almost 17th or 18th century feel to the start, with a string trio joining in to good effect. Then the keyboards, bass and drums take over, again reminding one strongly of Yes. For some reason, the female vocals here almost remind me, in places, of Wendy Smith from Prefab Sprout! They have that sort of clear and innocent sound. Very effective though. The melody is very strong and the harmonies are accurate. The middle section changes nicely, bringing in some Steve Hackett-like classical guitar. Then the electric guitar brings in some more Steve Howe effects, and nice mellotron in the background behind the vocals. This leads into the end section, which builds up nicely with more slide guitar. All the strands tie in nicely at the end and show this band's capabilities off very well. There is an almost Irish jig atmosphere to it, with all the instruments playing their part, whilst the final moment comes in the shape of a beautiful keyboard sweep across the senses. This band is very talented, and I hope to acquire more of their albums in the next few months. American bands like Dream Theater, do nothing for me, appealing more to the teenage metal fans, but this band is different. And good. Try it and see!

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Send comments to chessman (BETA) | Report this review (#26322) | Review Permalink
Posted Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Review by richardh
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Probably the best GH album.None of their stuff is truly essential but if you like prog rock that throws a few nods in the direction of keyboard based bands like ELP and Yes then go for it.It's well crafted and the band have an excellent knowledge of the genre.Nothing here that could be regarded as original though.

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Send comments to richardh (BETA) | Report this review (#26325) | Review Permalink
Posted Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Review by greenback
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars WOW! This is another modern progressive rock band using vintage keyboards: Hammond organ, mini moog, mellotron, church organ, clavinet, piano. Like Transatlantic, the overall sound is absolutely not outdated, never dark and never falling into the neo prog genre. The style involved makes me think about Yes and Camel. The band relies very much on OUTSTANDING female backing vocals, as good as the ones on the Mike Oldfield albums. The overall rhythm speed is relatively low, so that the accent is put on the melodies, not the technical performance, despite the drums are really complex, almost stealing the show!

The first track, "So close so far", is very progressive, rhythmic, having its electric guitar sounding like Steve Howe's; in the background, there is a subtle floating mellotron a la King Crimson. The female lead vocals are pure, tender, addictive and relaxing. The drums are elaborated and they are similar to the ones on the "In the Court of the Crimson King" album.

The second track, "Run Lisette", could easily be a bonus track on the Yes' "Going for the one" album! The permanent church organ, the electric guitar, the Rickenbacker-like bass make this track to sound almost the same as, say, the Parallel track! The track is very progressive and, again, there are some VERY beautiful & pleasant female lead & backing vocals. Some excellent mini moog complete this masterpiece.

The third track, "Farewell to Shadowlands", still sounds like Yes, as reveals the electric guitar and the omnipresent strong organ textures. The excellent mini moog notes remind me Camel circa Moonmadness. The girls sing very well here again.

"Longer", the fourth track, approaches the happy omnipresent lead & backing vocals and moods present on Transatlantic's "Bridge across forever", the track contains excellent clavinet, piano, Hammond organ and Camel-esque mini moog parts; there is an excellent expressive guitar solo and some volume pedal effects like Steve Howe used to play on the Relayer album.

The last track, "Behind The Great Beyond", lasting more than 20 minutes, is the best track of this album: WOW! it is VERY progressive and rythm changing: it starts with a very structured symphonic part, made of piano and string ensemble. A mix of melodic Camel- esque mini moogs, conversing rythmic organ & mellotron, tons of complex drums parts, Steve Howe's guitar sounds emulations, beautiful & catchy female & male vocals; the floating mellotron and clean guitars remind me the work of Yes. Past the 11th minute, a beautiful part of acoustic guitar sounding very medieval reminds me Jan Akkerman at his best! After the 13th minute, there is a rythmic violin part sounding like old Kansas, followed by ethereal electric guitar notes sounding, again, like Steve Howes' work.

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

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Send comments to greenback (BETA) | Report this review (#26330) | Review Permalink
Posted Thursday, February 10, 2005

Review by Trotsky
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars The opening synths of So Close So Far will let you know that Glass Hammer owe a debt to Genesis (having moved away from the earlier ELP fascination!), but this is no clone band. Multi-instrumentalist Fred Schendel must be one of the most underrated musicians of our time and Steve Babb (bass/some keys) is no slouch either. The vocals of Walter Moore and Susie Bogdanowicz, however aren't quite in the same league, and while they are not weak, the fact that many of the vocal passages are very "poppy" drags this album down. I must say too that while this album started off spectacularly it didn't last the pace, and it in fact, is a minor step down from its predecessor Lex Rex.

So Close So Far has some fine passages like a sudden "drop-out section" and some truly excellent synth fills. Unlike most modern prog bands, I also really like the guitar sounds Glass Hammer employ, but the way the synths colour the music is definitely the highlight of the band's sound as far as I'm concerned. The playing during the complex outro of the first track just totally rocks. Run Lisette has also got great synth fills and some excellent solos to boot (the one that takes off around the 4 minute mark is particularly awesome) and it leads to a section where strings, organ and guitar leads merge into one another superbly. The vocals can be a little precious (in much the same way those of Candice Night, of Blackmore's Night, can be) but they don't spoil this particular tune, and sometimes the harmonies are excellent.

Unfortunately Shadowlands never quite lives up to the promise of the opening two pieces. Farewell To Shadowlands is the type of tune a lot of neo-prog fans will enjoy, but I didn't. Despite the presence of a few good solo interludes, I generally found the song to be boring. Longer is only slightly better with a delicate piano intro (even if the opening instrumental passage does seem like an outtake from A Trick Of The Tail!). Unfortunately once the words and melody arrive they are too poppy for my tastes, which is hardly surprising given that it is indeed a cover of the Dan Fogelberg hit!

The concluding epic Behind The Great Beyond is sporadically excellent. It starts off with a classical intro with a piano leading a string quartet for the first two minutes, before an organ leads the whole band through a passage that reminds me of Kansas (with Moog synth solo and all). Around the 5 minute mark, the "song" starts, although the passage is just too pop for my tastes. At the 7:40 mark, an organ section leads the song into a nice string passage before vocals come back, there's some delightful unaccompanied classical guitar solo as well as another more interesting vocal part, with some great Moog accompaniment as well. But I must say that, as with many tunes that last more than 20 minutes, Behind The Great Beyond disctinctly runs out of steam towards the end. Which is a great way of summing up the whole album, actually. ... 51% on the MPV scale

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Send comments to Trotsky (BETA) | Report this review (#26333) | Review Permalink
Posted Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Review by Gatot
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars This is my first experience listening to the music of Glass Hammer. For me, this album is rewarding as the music is a combination of various styles with a keyboard-based rhythm section and solos ala Tony Banks of Genesis especially on later albums like "Duke" or "And Then There Were Three". There are some strong influences of classical music whereby some tracks really explore this influence with the use of violin in instrumental passage. Style-wise it's prog naturally as I can find easily that there are many tempo changes and some complex arrangements. Guitar is also pivotal element in this album. Vocals are done with male and female voices.

"So Close, So Far" opens the album with a fast tempo acoustic guitar work played as rhythm section followed with single layer keyboard work reminiscent of Tony Banks or Martin Orford (IQ). The opening part is really nice especially when there are some variations with quieter passage followed with high tone keyboard punch. Voice lines enter in duet style - while keyboard / organ serves as main rhythm section augmented with acoustic guitar. There are beautiful sound inserts from keyboard. The guitar solo is truly stunning and it reminds me to the style of Allan Holdsworth. Suddenly the style changes smoothly into a sort of blues music with some female voice line. This part reminds me of Magenta even though the voice timbre is different between the two female vocalist. This part is kind like enjoying a psychedelic / spacey music with voice. Very nice interlude! The song ends up with an uplifting mood where the beat is increasing through guitar rhythm interjected with great keyboard work.

"Run Lisette" continues my journey with this album through a medium tempo opening with solid basslines and drumming followed with organ sounds. Guitar enters the scene at very right time and provides a musical enjoyment especially when it is followed with a roaring keyboard sounds and floating male voice line. I don't know whether this was done intentionally or a technical problems that according to my ears the mixing of organ sound is too loud here and it makes the voice line is not clear. I would say this track is overdosed with the sounds of keyboard / synthesizer / organ. Don't get me wrong, the composition is really excellent for this track. The music flows smoothly and dynamically with organ as dominant factor augmented by guitar works. Yeah, guitar has its own space demonstrating its awesome solo even though it's not that long compared to organ.

"Farewell To Shadowlands" opens with a harmony produced by keyboard and guitar sounds. The opening is relatively long enough so it's gonna entertain those who love guitar and keyboard ventures. It's probably close to Tony Banks solo album A Curious Feeling, I would say. The female voice lines enter at the ending part of the song with floating keyboard coloring at the background augmented with nice organ punches. Howling guitar augmented by keyboard is a nice segment at the ending part. It's really an excellent track.

"Longer" starts off differently as it has a classical outfit using piano touch followed with nice entrance of keyboard sounds. Ok, this part reminds me to Magenta's music, really. The music moves smoothly into a medium keyboard-based style. The ending part resembles a style of neo progressive rock with keyboard-based rhythm and duo vocals - female and male.

The concluding track is a twenty-minute epic "Behind the Great Beyond" which starts off with nice classical outfit combining piano and violin in relatively long duration followed with the entrance of drums that remarks the start of the music. Keyboard still dominates the music. Female vocal enters in relatively quiet passage - a bit spacey - followed with male vocal at the back. The music then turns into an acoustic guitar solo in a sudden way - I feel like it's a bit disjointed here as it does not flow smoothly from previous part. Right after the acoustic guitar, the music and vocals enter again with augmentation of electric guitar in long sustain style. Very nice. The tempo changes faster with rapid-fire violin characterizes the melody combined with keyboard. Despite nice composition for each part that constitute the epic, I feel that most parts are like disjointed material.

Overall, this is an excellent album. Recommended - especially to those who like neo progressive rock vein which typically melodic and nice. This album fits the criteria well. Keep on proggin' ..!

Progressively yours,

GW - Review #317

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Send comments to Gatot (BETA) | Report this review (#36290) | Review Permalink
Posted Sunday, June 12, 2005

Review by chopper
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars This is a pretty good CD, featuring some nice keyboard and guitar work. Reminiscent of Yes in some places, it has some nice organ and moog textures, also some female vocals which are fairly unusual in this sort of music. My only criticisms are the drumming, which is a bit over-fussy and, as somebody else mentioned, the keyboards are mixed a bit loud in places and drown out the vocals. Overall, this is worth a listen for Yes fans.

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Send comments to chopper (BETA) | Report this review (#41337) | Review Permalink
Posted Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Review by Blacksword
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars Glass Hammer could be regarded as the saviours of symphonic prog rock. It was thanks to Prog Archives that I found this great American band. Shadowlands is the first GH album, I've heard, and while I eagerly wait for others to arrive in the post, I find myself loving this album more with each play. Is it perfect? No, but it is extremely good! To listen to it, you wouldn't think they were American and at first I was disappointed by this. It seemed daft that a US band should want to sound so much like a cocktail of Genesis, Yes and whoever else from the English prog garden! But then I got to thinking, 'why not?' They are so good at it, after all. The Keyboards are played beautifully, and some of the Mellotron parts are sublime, as are the soaring female harmonies which are at their most beautifully prominent in 'Farewell to Shadowlands' Glass Hammer are excellent musicians, and very talented composers, and while they're music may be very derivative, it does have a unique stamp on it that is their own. This may come out of a combination of English influence on the music and American accent on the vocals. The influences are far more obvious than in the work of Echolyn, for example or Spocks Beard.

The album suffers a little from, what must have been a limited production budget. The flaws, however, are minor and come down to bad mixing. For example on 'Run Lisette' the organ is so loud it nearly drowns out the vocals in some parts, which is a shame because this is the best song on the album IMO. Also brilliant are 'So close, so far' and 'Farewell to shadowlands' I feel the album loses a little of it's momentum in 'Longer' and the epic, 'Behind the great beyond' but this is not a view shared with many other reviewers.

All in all Glass Hammer, have delivered the goods on this album without a doubt. Symphonic prog lives, especially in the US. But hey, perhaps true prog does alittle more than just celebrate the past.

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Posted Thursday, September 29, 2005

Review by E-Dub
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars My first Glass Hammer venture is still my favorite. Beautifully put together by a band who still believes in the spirit in good symphonic prog from the founding fathers. Nicely crafted epics that even boldly translates a Dan Fogelberg into a 10 minute prog piece. If anything, these guys are brave.

For my tastes, the star of the show is female vocalist Susie Bogdanowicz, who really brings "Farewell To Shadowlands" to life. Easily my favorite track. Schendel does some nice lap steel work, as well as creating a mood with the mellotron. Still, it's Susie who steals the show with her angelic voice and lovely presence (no secret that I've got a little crush on her).

Dan Fogelberg's "Longer" is one of the bigger surprises. It starts off very unassuming with a piano and organ intro, and it sounds nothing like the original more folk influenced song that just about everyone knows. It's not until 2 1/2 minutes in to the song that we hear the famous notes just briefly, as if to pay tribute to the original, but then the synths branch off and we're back in the land of prog. As I said, it's a big surprise, but Glass Hammer successfully pull it off.

The 20 minute "Behind The Great Beyond" rounds out Shadowlands. As with the other tunes (if I have only one complaint), the song is in need of powerful drums. At this point, I believe Schendel handled the studio drums, and as talented as Fred is, I like to have more intricate and varied drumming for such a powerful intro. As the song progresses, however, you get a sense of how heavily influenced Glass Hammer is by early Genesis when Steve Hackett was a member towards the middle. Extremely nice epic.

As I mentioned, the only complaint is how thin the drums are. Other than that, Shadowlands is a very pleasant listen. Highly recommended...especially if you're new to Glass Hammer.

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Posted Monday, August 06, 2007

Review by progrules
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars I recently did the review on The Inconsolable Secret by this band and stated there that that was my favourite album by them. This one however has a much higher average on progarchives so I will at least have some explaining to do.

To begin with I found out not everyone shares my opinion about the Knight disk of T I S which in my believe is the best composing performance ever by GH. I miss an effort like that on this release. This doesn't mean of course that this is a poor or average album, in fact it's almost as good as T I S but it's about details if I have to explain the preference. If I compare the longest epic on this CD Behind the Great Beyond with Knight of the North I think BtGB is far less impressive as a true epic. It's all a bit mellow and I miss the spark I felt with KotN. This doesn't make BtGB a disappointing song, it's just slightly less. Same goes for the first two songs of this album. They are really great but I like A Maker of Crowns just some more. I think So close so far is a very good composition and Run Lisette already impressed me a few years ago when I downloaded it from progarchives. The vocals in this song are amazingly performed by Susie Bogdanowicz, Sarah Snyder and Walter Moore. It even becomes a bit vertiginous at a certain point where the three vocalists keep taking turns. But that's meant in a very positive way. I think it's very imposing. Farewell to Shadowlands is a nice track but not the best of the album. Next is a cover of Dan Fogelberg's Longer. I keep saying it, I don't appreciate covers too much although it makes some difference if it's a cheap cover we're talking about (and then I mean a 100% cover without own interpretation) or if we're dealing with a total new song like in this case. It's very well done in this case but I will always prefer own compositions. Last on the list is the already described Behind the Great Beyond finishing this album in great style.

What I was trying to say is that comparing this with it's successor it is not a matter of black and white judgement but in the end I have just a small preference for Inconsolable Secret. But in star rating it will make no difference.

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Posted Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Review by ZowieZiggy
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars I guess that very few people knew that Yes produced an album in 2004. Of course, after such a long career, it became difficult to surprise the fans and they decided to play it on the safe way.

Don't worry, you'll get the so special Howe sounds we all like, Rick is in good shape on the keys. Alan though seems to be a bit tired and plays just standard drumming while "The Fish" is more discreet than usual.

But the major problem is Jon. His voice is hardly recognizable, much more low tone oriented as if he couldn't reach these high pitched notes any longer. Compositions are average. Of course, one can't always write an album of the caliber of CTTE or "Relayer" (or plenty of other ones, you name them).

But still, with "Yes", one is always demanding. It's been a long time since the band didn't release so many "epics". A fine come back, actually. These long compositions were their trade mark. And "Shadowlands" is a return to the roots, with the shortest song clocking at 7'30".

No highlights, unfortunately. But no blunder either. Some fine instrumental parts ("Run Lisette", "Farewell To Shadowlands") do compensate weak vocals but Rick is doing a bit too much during the latter. He should have learned by now.

"Longer" could have been a bit shorter to keep the interest, but at times the band liked to extend some of their pieces (remember "Tales"). Another very much keyboards oriented piece of music. Well representative of the symphonic genre. At least we get fine backing vocals, so typical of the band.

And last but not least, the band is playing a true epic song like in the good old days. You know, the type of twenty minutes+, with a long instrumental intro, soft vocals entering the scene to introduce a another instrumental section. As if the band wasn't able to be original any longer. How comes?

It was also about time for Steve to play a short acoustic part as a liaison between two symphonic sections. it is not comparable with the best of their epics, but it is rather satisfactory.

Sorry. Hold on a sec. Someone is trying to say something to me.What? Are you kidding? Good Lord! I've just been told that this is not a YesAlbum! It's just "Glass Hammer". All of a sudden, everything becomes clear now: the voice, the compositions etc.

Three stars.

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Posted Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Review by Epignosis
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Eclectic Prog Team
5 stars Each piece is expertly crafted symphonic rock, full of life and the ability to reign in my interest every single time. There exists just the right blend of flourishing grandeur and delicate simplicity. More than ever, the vocals are stunning here, since Walter Moore is toned down and not as squeaky, and the ever-lovely Susie enchants listeners with her charming voice, both in the background and in the fore. She is, without a doubt, my favorite female progressive rock vocalist. The main men Steve Babb and Fred Schendel delight with their respective talents, complimenting each other without one overpowering the other throughout.

"So Close, So Far" Acoustic guitar begins this majestic journey of music, as organ, hearty bass, and a robust synthesizer lead join the graceful procession. A gorgeous electric guitar prances over airier instrumentation. Some rapid vocals and rhythms make up the last bit, with high-pitched synthesizer and steel guitar. Overall, it's a fascinating beginning to a great album.

"Run Lisette" While it's so difficult to choose a favorite piece from this album, this may be it. A gritty bass and guitar combo employs a very creative riff as flourishes of bright organ wash over it, and the electric guitar plays some very melodic leads thereafter. Bogdanowicz sounds absolutely lovely alongside Moore. The powerful church organ and guitar stir up some great music, indeed reminiscent of "Parallels" by Yes. What a wonderful piece!

"Farewell To Shadowlands" Using a meandering organ melody over a more structured clean, springy, rhythm gives the introduction to this song yet another uplifting feel. The synthesizer themes are exceptional, bouncing over a pleasingly effervescent bass. As usual, the lady simply sounds phenomenal.

"Longer" The fourth track is a cover of a Dan Fogelberg's hit- an interesting choice for this bombastic progressive rock band. The song begins with a simple piano lead, followed by organ, clavichord, and generous yet gradual layers of other instruments. Comparatively speaking, this is the weakest track on the album, since it can at times drag and be disinteresting, but it's still a very good cover.

"Behind The Great Beyond" The epic track of the album also begins with piano, soon accompanied by strings, and honestly, it all sounds like the tune of a nursery rhyme- an interesting opening to be sure. A fuller sound suddenly enters, with synthesizer lead and excellent organ, bass and drums. Over Mellotron and clean guitar the lovely duet of Moore and Bogdanowicz sing a beautiful melody. Abruptly the music stops to give way to a grand classical guitar interlude. The strings make a spirited reappearance thereafter. A variety of solos follow, last but not least of which is a vigorous synthesizer lead that ultimately draws the composition (and the album) to its conclusion.

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Posted Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Review by snobb
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars After some so good reviews I read here, I decided just to test this album by myself ( and the Glass Hammer music as well). From very beginning I was pleased by wall of sound - keybord/organ fullfilled all the spaces around me. OK, drums are noticed as well, not because of their originality, but more because of sound mixed that way.

Vocals are competent and generally pleasant, melodies not so bright, but always in use. After first album's song I new, what is it : good Kansas tribute band using modern instruments and technologies! Next songs gave me a mixed feeling: from one hand, the music is generally nice and competent, but from another - it just mix of earlier Yes and Kansas two in one.

Organ sound is deep and filling all the space around you, with rare guitar introductions and strangely mixed drums line. Voices are classic, with second (female) vocal a bit in Maggie Reilly ( Mike Oldfield vocalist in some albums) style. After few songs I just missed interest - well made secondary sympho-rock, that is it.

To be honest, because of high level of musicanship and generally not bad songs this group should be placed into highest category of secondary prog-musicians.

Should be interesting for new generation's prog fans without knowledge of "golden prog age" music, as crafted secondary sympho-prog band.

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Posted Friday, September 18, 2009

Review by Mellotron Storm
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars I must admit i'm not a big fan of this band so I was pleasantly surprised at how much I liked this album, in fact for me it's their best recording. They have a guest string trio helping out as well. The negative, and for me it's a big one, is their cover of Dan Fogelberg's "Longer". It's not that it's a bad cover in fact it's better than the original, it's just that back in 1979 when this was on the radio in my final year of highschool I detested it. I mean I hated this song with a passion. How could they cover such a wimpy ballad ? Believe me i'd like to describe it in a different way but I have to be political correct.

"So Close, So Far" opens with strummed guitar then some nice bass along with drums. How good do the synths sound here. Vocals after 1 1/2 minutes and I like the guitar after 3 minutes. A calm follows then we get guest female vocalist Flo Paris singing. Male vocals later as it continues to be slow paced. It picks up before 7 1/2 minutes. "Run Lisette" sounds great early with the bass and guitar. Male vocals and lots of synths follow. Female vocals after 5 1/2 minutes. There are strings on this song too. "Farewell To Shadowlands" features some great sounding guitar early and chunky bass. Lots of synths too. Female vocals before 3 1/2 minutes. Love the bass.

"Longer" is stretched out to almost 10 minutes. Awesome is all i can say as I throw-up on the floor. "Behind The Great Beyond" is the over 20 minute closing epic. I've brushed my teeth and am ready to go. Piano to start as strings join in. It changes before 2 minuts with a GENESIS-like soundscape but more powerful. It settles some 4 1/2 minutes in with reserved male vocals coming in a minute later. I like the atmosphere after 9 1/2 minutes then it picks up with guitar and fat bass lines. The instrumental section that follows kicks ass. Atmosphere ends it beautifully.

This is good but flawed by one track. Like a virus it's affected the whole recording for me. Okay not really but 3.5 stars is all I can come up with.

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Posted Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Review by Evolver
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Crossover & JazzRock/Fusion Teams
3 stars This appears to one of the highest rated Glass hammer albums on this site. In mY opinion, it's good, but by this time the Yes imitation was starting to wear thin. While the compositions are still good, it's the arrangements and production that sound derivative. At least this album brings to mind Genesis less often.

The opener, So Close, So Far, to mectually sounds quite a bit like Yes imitators Starcastle. And like Starcastle, I like the song, but can't go too crazy over it because of the borrowed sounds. Run Lisette has a keyboard track that sound like an imitation of Parallels, from "Going For The One". Again, it's a good song, but an album shouldn't be making me think more about other albums while I'm listening to it.

It goes on like this until the final track, the epic Behind The Great Beyond. Again, great composition. But here the inspiration seems to have been classic Kansas. With a large sound, a violin track, and that American classical sound, it brings back the "Leftoverture" era.

Schendel and Babb are extremely talented musicians, but I wish they would cut down on the imitations.

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Posted Friday, April 13, 2012

Review by b_olariu
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars Glass Hammer is one of the well known symphonic prog acts from USA. With a career who begun in 1992, Glass Hammer manage to come with some respectable albums across the years, one of them I think is Shadowlands from 2004. The masters behind the band are the two Fred Schendel and Steve Babb who are responsable for composing the music and aswell on some albums they play on all instruments. This release is considered among their best, the symphonic arrangements very similar with Yes or Starcastle let's say but with their own twist are very rich and bombastic in places. I'm not a big fan of the band, but I do appreciated the talent of the musician involved and the overall atmosphere, but in the end something is missing to really satisfy me big time. Only 5 pieces here, but lenghty, complicated, elaborated with plenty of keyboards , the guitars are more then ok and very good bass lines. My fav are the second track Run Lisette with a mid temp instrumentation and the last track of the album the longest one and most powerfull from that period Glass Hammer ever done Behind The Great Beyond , nearly 21 min of great symphonic prog as must sound this music. So, a fairly decent album that desearve attention from prog lovers, for me was a pleasent ride, but I can't say I'm overly impressed bif time, still good from start to finish, even the cover of Dan Fogelberg - Longer from album Phoenix from 1979 is decent. 3 stars rounded up to 3.5 because of those two pieces mentioned above, the rest are also good but not fantastic. A band to be checked with regularity because they prove they are able to come with good albums.

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Send comments to b_olariu (BETA) | Report this review (#844880) | Review Permalink
Posted Thursday, October 25, 2012

Latest members reviews

5 stars This was my first album of glass hammer (and progressive rock as well), this is a band sounds modern but not as such, while it has clear influences of ELP and Yes, it still sounds original. This album to me is one of the best of the group. The first track "So close, So far" with a great and co ... (read more)

Report this review (#213385) | Posted by nandprogger | Saturday, May 02, 2009 | Review Permanlink

4 stars When I got this album (my first Glass Hammer purchase) I don't think anything could have prepared me for what I was about to hear. My original opinion that I still stick to now, is that this music is hard to get into because there is so much going on. There are so many harmonies and melodies and ... (read more)

Report this review (#212999) | Posted by Valarius | Wednesday, April 29, 2009 | Review Permanlink

4 stars I am reviewing this after two listens and why not? The musicianship stood out clearly and the writing was strong throughout the lengthy compositions. This was my introduction to Glass Hammer and I was not disappointed as I have been with other CD's selected from the top 10 here on PA. The music ... (read more)

Report this review (#175072) | Posted by M27Barney | Tuesday, June 24, 2008 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Modern day symphonic prog, a rare sight sadly. Sure, prog isn't dead, on the contrary, but with progressive metal and neo-prog dominating the prog scenes these days, many of us more symphonic orientated proggers get little new stuff to listen to. So here are some Americans trying to recreate ... (read more)

Report this review (#114727) | Posted by Autoband | Friday, March 09, 2007 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Sounding like a modern day throwback to Yes, King Crimson, and a little bit of ELP, Glass Hammer is able to create something new in the modern age of music; to breathe life into a dead animal, without doing anything really new at all. The tracks on here are full of that Moogy goodness that I h ... (read more)

Report this review (#97950) | Posted by asuma | Friday, November 10, 2006 | Review Permanlink

3 stars A good effort from Glass hammer, one of their best along with Lex. Theres nothing really special on this record, the last song "Behind The Great Beyond" is the best track in the album, reminds me of The Flower kings meets neal morse playing live with echolyn on a tribute CD to shadow gallery. ... (read more)

Report this review (#81444) | Posted by OvergroundMusic | Sunday, June 18, 2006 | Review Permanlink

2 stars Every time I hear about a new band being touted as a 'leading current prog band' makes me think that I might find something new and refreshing, that the days of good music are indeed coming back. Alas, most of the albums these days are like a painful reminder that progressive rock good times a ... (read more)

Report this review (#67173) | Posted by tagomago | Saturday, January 28, 2006 | Review Permanlink

4 stars glass hammer was always for me all i dislike in progressive music: no evolution, only copying of the masterpieces of the 70's but i change my opinion with this excellent new release. for the 1st time glass hammer have his own style, his own personnality and create a very enthusiastic music. a ... (read more)

Report this review (#26332) | Posted by anesthésie | Sunday, May 15, 2005 | Review Permanlink

1 stars I think this music is too contrived. Too forced. Too phony/poppy/christian sounding. I dont know. The voices are weak, the compositions are too busy, too noisy, the mixing is lousy, I just think its scary that this is americas 'leading prog band'. ... (read more)

Report this review (#26329) | Posted by Solo | Monday, January 10, 2005 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Forgot to mention in my last review that the song-writing skills of these guys is quite impressive. There is plenty of sublety and harmonic and rhythmic nuances that will be discovered in careful, attentive listening over many spins. At the same time, there a soaring imagination, a powerful e ... (read more)

Report this review (#26328) | Posted by EMinkovitch | Monday, January 03, 2005 | Review Permanlink

5 stars I loved this album! I've been listening to GH from the very start and this is their best yet. I really enjoy the Yes- like instrumentation on 'Run Lisette' with the great Rickenbacker bass playing and slide guitar parts. I can't fault this one. If you appreciate Yes then I urge you to get ... (read more)

Report this review (#26327) | Posted by | Monday, January 03, 2005 | Review Permanlink

5 stars The nucleus of Glass Hammer, Steve Babb and Fred Schendel, do it again with Shadowlands. The songs are fantastic, especially "So Close, So Far" and "Behind the Great Beyond." And the 'treatment' Glass Hammer gives to Dan Fogelberg's "Longer" is nothing less than astounding, and definitely in the ... (read more)

Report this review (#26324) | Posted by | Monday, December 27, 2004 | Review Permanlink

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