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GLASS HAMMER

Symphonic Prog • United States


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Glass Hammer biography
Glass Hammer is a symphonic-progressive rock band from the United States. They formed in 1992 when multi-instrumentalists Steve Babb and Fred Schendel began to write and record Journey of the Dunadan, a concept album based on the story of Aragorn from J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings trilogy. To their surprise, the album sold several thousand units via the Internet, The QVC Shop-At-Home Network and phone orders, leaving Babb and Schendel convinced that the band was a project worth continuing.

While many musicians have appeared on Glass Hammer albums over the years, Babb and Schendel have remained the core of the band. Both play a variety of instruments, but Babb mainly concentrates on bass guitar and keyboards while Schendel plays keyboards, various guitars and drums until the addition of live drummer Matt Mendians to the studio recording band in 2004. They also sing, although a number of other vocalists have also handled lead vocal duties including Michelle Young, Walter Moore, Carl Groves, Susie Bogdanowicz and Jon Davison. Worthy of mention, Yes vocalist Jon Anderson provided backup vocals on two songs from 2007's Culture of Ascent.

Lyrically, Glass Hammer is inspired mostly by their love of literature (most notably Tolkien, C. S. Lewis and John Krakauer) and Babb's love of Victorian prose and medieval mythology.

Musically, they lean towards 70's driven symphonic rock, with strong keyboard orientation; specifically Hammond organs in the tradition of ELP. They have a superb melodic flow to the music they make, encapsulating real power and dynamics without ever becoming overpowering. Their most apparent influences are Yes, ELP, Genesis, and, to a less noticeable extent, Camel. While Glass Hammer have, for the most part, combined those influences into a characteristic style of their own, they made much more direct references to the aforementioned bands on their 2000 album Chronometree and the 2010 release If. Without a doubt, GH remain one of the most popular groups in the progressive rock genre. All the albums are very conceptual, and there is great musicianship overall.

Current band members include co-founders Steve Babb (bass guitar and keyboards), Fred Schendel (keyboards and guitar) along with Alan Shikoh (guitar) and lead vocalist Jon Davison.

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The Breaking of the WorldThe Breaking of the World
Arion Records 2015
Audio CD$10.99
$10.22 (used)
Cor CordiumCor Cordium
Sound Resources / Arion Records 2011
Audio CD$10.99
$10.95 (used)
Ode To EchoOde To Echo
Sound Resources / Arion Records 2014
Audio CD$9.98
$21.54 (used)
Culture Of AscentCulture Of Ascent
Arion Records / Sound Resources 2007
Audio CD$9.77
$9.76 (used)
IfIf
Sound Resources / Arion Records 2010
Audio CD$10.99
$9.98 (used)
PerilousPerilous
Sound Resources / Arion Records 2012
Audio CD$10.99
$9.98 (used)
The Inconsolable Secret Deluxe EditionThe Inconsolable Secret Deluxe Edition
Box set
Arion Records / Sound Resources 2013
Audio CD$24.37
$24.16 (used)
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GLASS HAMMER discography


Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help Progarchives.com to complete the discography and add albums

GLASS HAMMER top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

1.98 | 63 ratings
Journey Of The Dunadan
1993
3.07 | 67 ratings
Perelandra
1995
3.05 | 69 ratings
On To Evermore
1998
3.28 | 122 ratings
Chronometree
2000
2.41 | 61 ratings
The Middle Earth Album
2001
3.75 | 156 ratings
Lex Rex
2002
3.72 | 171 ratings
Shadowlands
2004
3.36 | 155 ratings
The Inconsolable Secret
2005
3.54 | 134 ratings
Culture Of Ascent
2007
3.01 | 90 ratings
Three Cheers for the Broken-Hearted
2009
3.91 | 259 ratings
If
2010
2.99 | 38 ratings
One
2010
3.74 | 180 ratings
Cor Cordium
2011
3.91 | 154 ratings
Perilous
2012
3.50 | 117 ratings
Ode To Echo
2014
3.69 | 68 ratings
The Breaking Of The World
2015

GLASS HAMMER Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.06 | 12 ratings
Live and Revived
1997
3.62 | 19 ratings
Live At Nearfest
2004

GLASS HAMMER Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

4.25 | 19 ratings
Lex Live
2004
4.10 | 22 ratings
Live At Belmont
2006
4.29 | 7 ratings
Live at The Tivoli
2008

GLASS HAMMER Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.75 | 13 ratings
The Compilations, 1996 to 2004
2006
3.60 | 10 ratings
The Inconsolable Secret - Deluxe Edition
2013

GLASS HAMMER Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

GLASS HAMMER Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 The Breaking Of The World by GLASS HAMMER album cover Studio Album, 2015
3.69 | 68 ratings

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The Breaking Of The World
Glass Hammer Symphonic Prog

Review by Hutchy123

4 stars Glass Hammer were formed in 1992 when multi-instrumentalists Steve Babb and Fred Schendel wrote and recorded 'Journey of the Dunadan', an unexpectedly successful concept album based on the story of Aragon from The Lord of the Rings, this success convinced them that the band was a project worth continuing.

Both musicians have remained at the core of Glass Hammer over the years and are joined on the band's 17th studio album 'The Breaking of the World' by guitarist Kamran Shikoh, drummer Aaron Raulston and vocalists Carl Groves and Susie Bogdanowicz.

Steve Babb was recently quoted as saying, "We've just wrapped up what has to be the best sounding Glass Hammer album in years."

Audiophile mastering on the album was done by the legendary Bob Katz of Digital Domain and he said, "The Breaking Of The World is Glass Hammer's most progressive album to date." Unfairly compared to Yes for the majority of their career, US progressive stalwarts Glass Hammer turn up with their best and most convincing album yet. As progressive as they come, the band have matured to a level where they should be considered as one of the best and most influential exponents of the genre out there.

Dynamic bass playing, superb keys and a signature guitar all blend with the stylish vocals to deliver a highlight of the year.

Without a doubt their best latter day release, there are nods to virtually all the greats of the genre running throughout 'The Breaking of the World' but they are only an affection for what has gone before, Glass Hammer have carved their own recognisable niche in this crowded genre and stride forward confidently with a sound that is now their own.

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 Lex Rex by GLASS HAMMER album cover Studio Album, 2002
3.75 | 156 ratings

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Lex Rex
Glass Hammer Symphonic Prog

Review by apps79
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars Always inspired by Tolkien's writings, Glass Hammer decided to fully dedicate an album to the legendary writer, recording and releasing ''The middle Earth album'' in 2001, somewhat moving away from their progressive sensibilties for a more rural approach, a work that received mixed reviews.But they would soon recover, launching ''Lex Rex'' in 2002, a comeback to Prog Rock, now featuring some extra guitar work by Bjørn Lynne with a four-piece backing vocal group.

''Lex Rex'' finds Glass Hammer reaching their creative pinnacle, all these huge 70's influences and aesthetics have been nicely balanced, Schendel and Babb had musically matured and the result was a top 2002 album of full-blown Symphonic Rock with evident YES and E.L.P. influences.The vocal parts and production sound of course very American, they actually sound a bit close to MAGELLAN at moments, but the arrangements, jazzy guitar snippets and huge Classical influences in the piano parts are well within the STEVE HOWE/RICK WAKEMAN range.Now, the whole thing about Symphonic-oriented Prog is to find room and place elements like pomposity, complexity, grandieur and melody in equal doses and additionally mix all those properly to sound like technically efficient yet elaborate mini symphonies.That's what exactly Glass Hammer achieved with ''Lex Rex'', there's no particular element prevailing in the album and for the first time you feel there are no blank holes or fillers, even during the longest piece, while the shorter tunes have also a reason of existence.The band switches with unmet comfort between instrumental long plays with keyboard tricks and interactions to smoother performances with a lyrical depth and a strong sense of melody.Beautiful combination of layered synthesizers with big time Mellotron preludes and thrilling organs, some nice acoustic textures to be found next to the regular electric moves and well-arranged vocal harmonies, material with emotion and virtuosity, great piece of art.

''Lex Rex'' is also an attempt by the band to leave the dominant YES influences behind, they haven't fully achieved to do so, but at least this is their most original album to date, their style starts to become a little distinctive.Great reincarnation of Classic Prog values, no less than highly recommended.

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 Ode To Echo by GLASS HAMMER album cover Studio Album, 2014
3.50 | 117 ratings

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Ode To Echo
Glass Hammer Symphonic Prog

Review by Conor Fynes
Prog Reviewer

3 stars 'Ode to Echo' - Glass Hammer (62/100)

I had the pleasure earlier this year to interview Glass Hammer upon the release of Ode to Echo for Prog Sphere Magazine. Among other insights, one thing that really served to elucidate the way I interpreted their music was the way they explained their band name. Originally inspired by a K.W. Jeter novel, the name Glass Hammer has gone on to represent a supposed paradox, something supposedly fragile and simultaneously powerful. Indeed, you can hear this navigation between the 'glass' and 'hammer' in a lot of the symphonic prog that preceded, and subsequently inspired Glass Hammer's sound; the same is doubly true for the classical repertoire that, in turn, inspired symphonic prog rock to begin with. The most impressive examples of the genre (including some of Glass Hammer's material, most notably 2010's If) feature conventionally beautiful timbres and instrumental pyrotechnics uplifting one another beautifully. The resulting feeling of warmth is one I've been hard-pressed to find in any other style of music.

With Glass Hammer's 15th (!!!) full-length Ode to Echo, it feels like that dichotomy- having veered moreso towards the 'fragile'- is a bit off. Normally I should be jumping at the sound of a philosophical concept album surrounding the myth of Narcissus, but the album surprisingly doesn't grip me the way I may have been hoping for. The warm, symphonic palette is here to bask in, but for all of their obvious skill and tightness as a band, Glass Hammer aren't all that exciting of a listen this time around. What we essentially have here is a well-performed, intriguingly conceptual piece that doesn't quite make its ends meet.

While detractors of Glass Hammer have attempted to label them as a Yes clone, I think even they would have a hard time pegging that association on Glass Hammer's more streamlined approach this time around. Most symphonic prog (with Yes in particular) have a tendency to favour instrumental fireworks and wild dynamics (once again, speaking of the fragile/power dichotomy). That was true for some of the band's earlier work, but with Ode to Echo, they're remarkably modest in their displays of technique. Perhaps it ties in with the album's concept (more on that later); as it practically affects the music, Glass Hammer seem to be playing below their instrumental capability. For an album that nearly reaches an hour in length, Ode to Echo feels scarce of passages that test the band to their limits.

Being that Ode to Echo generally underwhelms me on the technical end, it's surprising how sophisticated they've made some of these vocal harmonies. With three principal vocalists and most of the rest of Glass Hammer offering backup support, the voice takes a much greater space here than what I'm used to hearing in progressive rock. From the multiple overlapping parts on "Misantrog" alone, it's obvious that Glass Hammer have invested a lot of thought into the way the vocals work on the album. Given how rich in concept Ode to Echo is meant to be, this isn't particularly surprising.

For its subdued approach, Ode to Echo takes at least a few listens to properly warm up to it. While I'm partial to the gorgeous Porcupine Tree-sounding finish on "Crowbone" and the tense build in "Panegyric", "Garden of Hedon" probably stands out as the most consistent and well-composed piece of the lot. In terms of its songwriting, Ode to Echo stands as one of those albums that benefits more from individually strong ideas moreso than the way they're strung together in songs. The would-be epic "Misantrog" for example, carries solid firepower courtesy of its byzantine vocal parts, but the way the passages flow from one to another sounds rushed. The same goes for "Panegyric", which begins for two minutes like the start of some album-defining epic, only to dwindle down to another soft vocal passage. Most of the times Glass Hammer heightens my anticipation of Ode to Echo, I feel disappointed with the result. Once again, this might have been averted if their balance of power and fragility had been just a little more even.

I feel one day I will write a full-blown essay about the American symphonic prog scene; while the United States is hardly the first place I'd think of when talking about most styles of progressive rock, there is a vocal stable of symphonic rockers with predominantly Christian beliefs. While some (most notably Neal Morse, and his Testimony series) espouse their religious leanings bluntly, Glass Hammer have conducted their narrative exploration of Christian virtue and humility in a pretty intellectually engaging way; consequently, it's the concept of Ode to Echo itself that stands as its strongest ingredient. It's clear from the onset that Glass Hammer condemn Narcissus' all-consuming selfishness and the effect it has on the lovestruck Echo. Keeping Glass Hammer's religious sentiment in mind, there's a near-certain similarity between the "Garden of Hedon" Glass Hammer introduces us to at the album's beginning, and the Garden of Eden, itself defined by a fateful meeting of man and woman. Beyond Ode to Echo's mythical inspirations, Glass Hammer's concept is rooted in reality, and like all great myth, it shines light on aspects of real life. Ode to Echo explores the pains caused by the real-life Narcissists and psychopaths of the world; more than that, it is a tribute to those who have felt those pains firsthand, as well as a warning to all who may bear them in the future. As Glass Hammer beautifully summarize in the album's final lyric: "We folk with empathy must ever be on guard for those without."

If that final line of the album doesn't already conjure to mind the names and faces of people to whom it certainly applies, you eventually will. It's rare that I ever find myself more interested in an album's concept than the music itself, but that Ode to Echo touches upon a corner of philosophy that can affect (and in some cases, ruin) real lives makes it feel essential to the album's appreciation. With their critical zenith having been recent in the forms of If and Cor Cordium (not to mention Jon Davison's recent tenure as the new frontman for Yes), it seems Glass Hammer are enjoying a hype shared by few in the avenues of 'traditional' progressive rock. I may hesitate to call Ode to Echo a great album, but it's certainly enough to underline Glass Hammer as a potentially fantastic band. I may have been resistant a few years back when I was first alerted to a symphonic prog revival, but when Glass Hammer remind me here almost as much of Porcupine Tree as your typical Yeses and Genesises, it's clear- if nothing else- that the style can feel modern and fresh in the right hands.

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 Chronometree by GLASS HAMMER album cover Studio Album, 2000
3.28 | 122 ratings

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Chronometree
Glass Hammer Symphonic Prog

Review by apps79
Special Collaborator 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.

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 Cor Cordium by GLASS HAMMER album cover Studio Album, 2011
3.74 | 180 ratings

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Cor Cordium
Glass Hammer Symphonic Prog

Review by Progulator
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Glass Hammer's Cor Cordium is an album that simply made me smile from ear to ear. In the vein of classic Yes on crack?err?on steroids, Glass Hammer carves out a musical path which is familiar yet exciting in new ways. There's something that very much goes beyond their seventies influences in their brand of ultra-symphonic rock that unapologetically exploits the sonic spectrum with tons of texture, great synths, and nice melodies and grooves. If you don't mind hearing a band that takes a classic sound and improves on it in modern ways, this is a great listen. If you're stuck on Close to the Edge being the only album you enjoy, then you'll hate this.

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 Ode To Echo by GLASS HAMMER album cover Studio Album, 2014
3.50 | 117 ratings

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Ode To Echo
Glass Hammer Symphonic Prog

Review by DrömmarenAdrian

3 stars I became curious to hear Glass Hammer when I read the newest review of their newest record earlier today. Glass hammer is an American prog band which has been around for more than twenty years and "Ode to Echo" from 2014 is their fifteenth studio album released two years after "Perilous". First it should be said that the cover is beautiful. It is an ancient looking motive with beautifuk peoples and colours so only that makes you wanna listen. The band is Carl Groves(vocals), Jon Davison(vocals), Susie Bogdanowicz(vocals), Alan Shikoh(guitars, sitar), Fred Schendel(keyboards, guitars), Steve Babb(bass,keyboards) and Aaron Raulston(drums).

The eight tracks are in different quality according to my taste. Glass hammer has a symphonic touch but not in particular. It is also quite straight rock but filled with progressive parts. It doesn't really fit my taste of music so I can't give it very much credit. I am more into the seventies' prog actually. This though contains a lot of high standard. The longest track "Misantrog" is also the most interesting, very progressive and not too explossive(7/10). I also like the instrumental parts of "Panegryic"(7/10) very much and the Beatles feeling of "Porpoise song"(6/10) aren't wrong at all as well as the "Garden of Hedon"(6/10) makes you feel quite satisfied. The other songs aren't so interesting and sometimes I thought it almost was hard to enjoy it at all. Especially "The grey hills"(4/10) was problematic.

Glass Hammar's "Ode to Echo" contains a lot in music, different instruments and prog aspects. But I had hard to get any interest for it. I will give it three weak stars.

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 Ode To Echo by GLASS HAMMER album cover Studio Album, 2014
3.50 | 117 ratings

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Ode To Echo
Glass Hammer Symphonic Prog

Review by Matti
Collaborator Neo-Prog Team

4 stars I'm surprised at the minimal amount of reviews. And at the same time the new YES album gets myriads of (very strong and mostly negative) opinions! This thought came to my mind for the fact that Jon Davison sings on both albums. Surely Yes is on the very top in the entire prog history for me too, but when it comes to the prog of this Millennium, I'm much more interested to listen to newer bands, including those who draw their influence from the greats. GLASS HAMMER (US) belongs to the same generation with The Flower Kings and Spock's Beard, but seems to be notably less recognized (for example here in Finland I haven't seen their albums in libraries). I'm only vaguely familiar with their releases; Ode To Echo is actually my first complete GH experience.

I think this is a noteworthy slice of finely crafted modern symphonic prog. Also the art work from the worlds of Greek mythology and the classic art history is more fascinating than yet another Roger Dean landscape... The music is loaded with retro-oriented keyboards of Fred Schendel - and vocal harmonies, which is a typical feature in the US prog. Jon Davison is only one of three "lead vocals" here (others are Carl Growes and Susie Bogdanowicz) and there are many more vocals too, both from the core members and guests. Steve Babb's bass playing is a pleasure to spot throughout the album. Guitars perhaps remain too secondary on the long run.

The 52-minute album is a safe and pleasing, almost surpriseless, listening experience. Not much sticks to one's memory, but it feels natural to give it another spin right away. By listening the fine 10- minute 'Misantrog' you'd get a pretty good picture of the whole album; to some point it feels rather samey and lacks truly memorable moments. Tracks such as 'I Am I' - a dialogue between Echo and Narcissus - features plenty of complexity, but also the feeling of flying near the ground. The GENESIS epic 'Fountain of Salmacis' wipes floors with this music when it comes to the drama power and dynamics. Hey, now I figure out what's the problem: this music is too even, lacking of strong contrasts. Someone wrote "progginess just for the sake of sounding proggy" and I have to agree. As a background listening it works marvellously.

I don't know the origins of Gerry Coffin / Carole King -penned 'Porpoise Song' but I dislike the 60's psychedelic flavour in this version. Easily the worst track. Highlights include 'Crowbone' with a cool guest appearance of violin, cal and chamber music flavoured 'Panegyric' for Susie's voice, and perhaps the closing track 'Ozymandias' as a good example of the use of vocal harmonies and a colourful keyboard arsenal. Warm organ and electric piano are the most heard ones I guess; Wakemanesque melodic brightness is mostly mising.

As you can see, I'm not sure whether I'm fond of this album or do I find it slightly boring. Probably both. You better try yourself. 3½ stars.

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 Three Cheers for the Broken-Hearted by GLASS HAMMER album cover Studio Album, 2009
3.01 | 90 ratings

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Three Cheers for the Broken-Hearted
Glass Hammer Symphonic Prog

Review by Aussie-Byrd-Brother
Special Collaborator Rock Progressivo Italiano Team

3 stars A somewhat controversial and mostly unloved release from American symphonic proggers Glass Hammer, `Three Cheers for the Broken Hearted' saw the band, usually associated with lengthy instrumental filled epic arrangements, adopt a more accessible and stripped back format for their tenth album. This is probably one of the last albums from the band that newcomers should begin with, but the idea that's it's a dud, or worse yet, some kind of commercial sell-out is absurd! Female vocalist Susie Bogdanowicz takes the majority of the lead, but Steve Babb and Fred Schendel still get standout vocal passages throughout as well. All the usual romantic prettiness, the sweeping melodies and lush instrumentation are still there, just tightly compacted into more easier to approach settings, and best of all, the band adopted some more modern influences that, in retrospect with what was come, make this a real one-off that should be reconsidered.

Tracks like opener `Come On, Come On' and the sun-kissed cover of The Zombies' `A Rose for Emily' have a Beatles-esque 60's psychedelic pop flavour, Susie's voice offering breathy sighs. The confident acoustic guitar driven gothic ballad `A Bitter Wind' is one of the absolute album highlights, with weeping Mellotron weaving around Susie's wilting tones during the sublime repeated chorus, and it's pretty much a perfect Glass Hammer piece. Fred especially excels on both the strident and somewhat jaunty `The Mid-Life Weird', which wouldn't have sounded out of place as a breather on earlier album `Lex Rex', and sophisticated ballad `Sundown Shores' glistens with his tasteful piano playing and warm urgent vocal.

Several other tracks take some unexpected and welcome changes of direction. `The Curse They Weave' is very surprising, exciting and moody electro pop with dark slinking grooves, and it works a treat! There's a refreshing brooding heavier atmosphere on `The Lure of Dreams', with Steve's thick reverbreating bass, plus imposing Hammond organ, forceful drumming and intimidating searing Mellotron. `Sleep On' has nice muscular electric guitar workouts that wouldn't have sounded out of place on a Dream Theater album, while the ambitious `Schrodinger's Lament' has snarling sludgy riffs over somewhat distracting ranted spoken-word samples that drops in and out of floating spectral passsages that almost take on a dreamy Beach Boy's `Surf's Up' quality.

The almost 8 minute `Hyperbole' is the most overtly proggy standout here, but also easily one of the most contemporary and modern sounding pieces ever to appear on a Glass Hammer album. Dominated by Steve's bouncy leaping bass, a brisk up-tempo relentless beat drives electric guitar fire and infernal Mellotron choirs almost sounding like the later Porcupine Tree discs, twisting turning time-changes, ballistic synth soloing, and even Susie bringing a tougher vocal to carry the catchy repeated chorus home. I'd love the band to head in this direction again sometime soon, so many potential new directions they could investigate! Album closer `Falling' is a classy retro piano ballad from Fred that sounds just like the sort of multi-harmony honey-dipped pop that retro-rocker Matthew Sweet excelled at, and it's just as good. A gorgeous Mellotron outro closes the album perfectly.

Of course there's some filler scattered briefly throughout the eleven tracks, and the cover itself is not very special (although it's pretty inspiring to see the results of Fred's weightloss - way to go, buddy!), but `Three Cheers' frequently bristles with a relaxed energy that being free of ambitious extended and vintage flavoured proggy arrangements allowed the band. Despite some 60's pastiche here and there, this is the furthest Glass Hammer ever drifted from the vintage/retro-prog sound, and it seems fresh and full of untapped potential. I feel albums like this are more interesting and appreciated when looking back over a long discography of an artist, where risks and formula shakeups can be admired. It's a shame that the reaction from stuffier, perhaps older prog fans ensured that Glass Hammer never tried anything like this again (to date). As much as I still enjoy their albums from `If' onwards, it seems like the band had a massive panic attack from the response to this and raced back to the safe comfort of 70's sounds from then on.

The connection with Yes may have brought the band and their recent works more popularity and status, but even before Jon Davison joined their ranks, Glass Hammer already had a number of superb modern symphonic prog works in their career, and `Three Cheers for the Broken Hearted' was a very respectable diversion for patient lovers of the band, with frequently daring and unexpected experiments that we may never get to hear the likes of from them again. It's an album that revealed more variety and their own unique personality a little more than the 70's love-fests that have come since, and I wish the band would take a chance like this again...or that more of their fans would allow them to.

Three and a half stars.

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 Ode To Echo by GLASS HAMMER album cover Studio Album, 2014
3.50 | 117 ratings

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Ode To Echo
Glass Hammer Symphonic Prog

Review by tbstars1

2 stars Mmm...the consensus appears to be that this marks yet another step forward for Glass Hammer, with a freshness and new-found accessibility that altogether forms a winning combination. I just don't see this at all, I'm afraid. After the splendid heights attained by "If" and "Perilous" (with "Cor Cordium" not far beneath them), this is a real let-down. After persevering over many listens, I conclude that there is not a single track that stands comparison with any of the true gems that have been delivered by the band in its many guises over its 20 years' existence. Here we have just a succession of discordant, instantly- forgettable tunes, with nothing very "tuneful" at all, as I see it , and with no particular melody or discernible sense of structure - just an aimless succession of tracks travelling under the generic "prog" label, where "prog" is measured solely by the yardsticks of musical cleverness and intricacy. We've been down this route before, and we don't need to repeat history. I don't doubt that what follows is near-sacrilegious for the wider prog community to read, but anyone who saw Gentle Giant in their prime, as I did, will know that, whilst they were absolutely mesmerising in their versatility and artistry - and this, of course, could only be wildly appreciated and applauded - their concerts were extremely difficult to "enjoy" because the sheer complexity of the music was so distracting thta it became overwhelming.

The time is ripe for Glass Hammer to re-examine the way ahead. They have proved over many years that they can do so much better than this. This is, IMO, by far their poorest offering to date, worse even than either "Lex Rex" or "Culture of Ascent", which is really saying something.

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 If by GLASS HAMMER album cover Studio Album, 2010
3.91 | 259 ratings

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If
Glass Hammer Symphonic Prog

Review by infandous

3 stars 3.5 stars really!

This is the kind of thing Yes should be putting out. This implies that this is something of a Yes "copy" or even tribute. I'd say the latter is more accurate than the former, as the more I listen to this album, the less the music really sounds like Yes (though there are certainly some extremely similar.......some would say "rip off".......moments).

I think the main similarity is the vocals of Jon Davison. Of course, he is now the full time vocalist for Yes, and performed for a Yes tribute band for many years. The resemblance is uncanny, so it's no surprise that the Yes comparisons are made. Then we have the guitarist, who sounds remarkably like a young Steve Howe, and was almost certainly heavily inspired by him. The bass has that heavy Rickenbacker overdriven sound that Squire was always known for, and the keys use a lot of vintage sounds, many of which were used by Yes in their heyday. The cover art is great, though again, the similarity to one Rodger Dean can not be ignored here either.

So two paragraphs in and I'm STILL comparing that band to Yes. For many people, this is where they decide that it's not for them, they don't need another prog band trying to recreate the glories of a more famous 70's prog band, etc. This was my first thought upon hearing it the first time as well. However, repeated listens have opened this album up to me as a valid and enjoyable work in its own right. There is no denying the Yes similarities, but since when has Yes produced an album as good as this? I would say not for at least 20 years. So to me, this is a welcome addition to my collection. Beautiful melodies, stirring orchestral crescendos, fantastic guitar and keys solos, odd time signatures........but most of all, emotional impact. This album moves me like Yes albums of old used to. Sure, it's not as innovative and "new" as those albums were upon release. This is unquestionably retro prog, with a heavy Yes influence. Yet, it is also a beautifully, well written and arranged prog rock album that after 2 years I still haven't gotten tired of hearing. To me, that is enough to make it essential. Tracks 1, 5, and 6 are my firm favorites, also sounding the most Yes-like, incidentally, but every song has something I like. Behold The Ziddle is the one where the Yes comparisons break down a bit, though I suppose it has some correlation to the heavier and wilder parts of the Yes' catalog.

Basically, if the constant references to Yes haven't put you off yet, then you need to own this album. For my personal taste it really is a 4 star album, but in the scope of prog music and this site I'm going to round down to 3 stars, as I don't think I can honestly say it is an "excellent addition to ANY prog rock music collection". Just to mine, and perhaps yours, if you love Yes and wish they would make good symphonic prog again.

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