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Glass Hammer biography
Founded in Chattanooga, Tennessee, USA in 1992

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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GLASS HAMMER discography

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

2.04 | 90 ratings
Journey Of The Dunadan
3.06 | 95 ratings
3.06 | 93 ratings
On To Evermore
3.32 | 166 ratings
2.42 | 83 ratings
The Middle Earth Album
3.75 | 210 ratings
Lex Rex
3.71 | 230 ratings
3.41 | 212 ratings
The Inconsolable Secret
3.53 | 186 ratings
Culture of Ascent
3.01 | 127 ratings
Three Cheers For The Broken-Hearted
3.87 | 339 ratings
2.86 | 57 ratings
3.73 | 232 ratings
Cor Cordium
3.86 | 216 ratings
3.45 | 171 ratings
Ode To Echo
3.83 | 182 ratings
The Breaking of the World
3.82 | 180 ratings
3.80 | 141 ratings
3.70 | 147 ratings
Dreaming City
4.01 | 93 ratings
Skallagrim: Into the Breach
3.63 | 46 ratings
At the Gate
0.00 | 0 ratings

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

3.08 | 19 ratings
Live and Revived
3.67 | 31 ratings
Live At Nearfest
3.92 | 19 ratings
Double Live
3.80 | 5 ratings
Mostly Live in Italy

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

4.24 | 24 ratings
Lex Live
4.07 | 28 ratings
Live At Belmont
4.00 | 11 ratings
Live at The Tivoli
4.00 | 6 ratings
Double Live

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

3.72 | 18 ratings
The Compilations, 1996 to 2004
3.95 | 20 ratings
The Inconsolable Secret - Deluxe Edition
3.65 | 21 ratings
Untold Tales
3.77 | 4 ratings
A Matter of Time - Volume 1

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

3.80 | 5 ratings
Cool Air


Showing last 10 reviews only
 If by GLASS HAMMER album cover Studio Album, 2010
3.87 | 339 ratings

Glass Hammer Symphonic Prog

Review by gbjones

4 stars Ok I'm really tempted to give this a 3 but I'm giving it a 4 because it's at least a 3.5. It's what I call "derivative" - it has echoes of Yes, the Beatles, ELP, and Bread (remember those guys?). But it's really good, especially the lengthy track "If the Sun". I will pose this strong caveat: these people are very prolific and even though I give this a high rating, my interest in them will probably wane after the first few albums. I first listened to GH around a decade ago - I purchased a copy of "Shadowlands" but thought it was almost entirely too derivative, and I didn't like the vocalist. I waded back into these waters again after listening to Jon Davison sing yes. 4 stars.
 The Breaking of the World by GLASS HAMMER album cover Studio Album, 2015
3.83 | 182 ratings

The Breaking of the World
Glass Hammer Symphonic Prog

Review by kev rowland
Special Collaborator Honorary Reviewer

4 stars Since Fred Schendel (keyboards, lead & backing vocals) and Steve Babb (bass, keyboards, backing vocals) formed Glass Hammer in 1992 they have had a line-up which changes quite fluidly, with members leaving and sometimes returning, yet during the last 30 years they have had a prodigious output by modern prog standards, rarely dropping below their own very high standards. Here they are joined by Carl Groves (lead vocals), Susie Bogdanowicz (lead & backing vocals), Kamran Alan Shikoh (electric, acoustic & classical guitars) and Aaron Raulston (drums), which apart from the loss of Jon Davison (Yes) was the same line-up as the previous 'Ode To Echo' which had seen both Carl (Salem Hill) and Susie return after some time away and the introduction of Aaron to the band.

Fred and Steve are major fans of Yes and they have not hidden those influences over the years, and surely this was one of the reasons Davison got his current role, yet what surprised me most about this album is that while they have stayed true to the symphonic prog style, they are not nearly as Yes-like as they have been on many of their albums in the past. True, they do like male lead singers who perform in a similar fashion to Anderson, yet female vocals are also a key element in their sound, and this album finds them move much more closely to the music of Steve Hackett than I would have thought. Note, I deliberately said Hackett and not Genesis, and his late Seventies albums in particular. Yes, there are some keyboard sounds one recognises from Tony Banks, and others from Wakeman, but they are performing a style of prog which relies on certain keyboards so that is not surprising. Mind you, the introduction to "Nothing, Everything" is classic Gentle Giant and brought a smile to my face.

I have always enjoyed the depth and care which goes into their arrangements, and they are never as overtly flashy and "look at me" as some others, as they combine multiple melodies and strands and allow the singer to then find his/her own path over the top. For music as complex as this it is perhaps surprising that space is also a hugely important element which ensures the music has the room to breathe and really live. This is an album which definitely looks back in time and could easily have been released in the heyday of the genre but is also modern and shows that 16 studio albums in the band has a colossal amount to offer, and it is no surprise that 8 years on from this they have released another five. One of the most enjoyable progressive rock bands around, Glass Hammer continue to operate at very high levels indeed.

 At the Gate by GLASS HAMMER album cover Studio Album, 2022
3.63 | 46 ratings

At the Gate
Glass Hammer Symphonic Prog

Review by TheEliteExtremophile

2 stars Glass Hammer is among my favorite punching bags in the realm of modern progressive rock. This is their twenty-third(!) full-length release, the third installment in a fantasy-based trilogy, and it's exactly what I'd expect from them. The music is soullessly played and full of cliches that were old news 50 years ago. They've lately tried adding a bit more grit to their sound, but it doesn't suit them well. Their best albums from the late '90s and early '00s were never all that original. At least they sounded like they were having fun, and the music had some creativity to it. At the Gate feels like a paint-by-numbers slog, especially in comparison to this band's more engaging work.

Review originally posted here:

 At the Gate by GLASS HAMMER album cover Studio Album, 2022
3.63 | 46 ratings

At the Gate
Glass Hammer Symphonic Prog

Review by alainPP

4 stars GLASS HAMMER was founded in 1992 working in the symphonic prog niche with a story of Tolkien with a medieval atmosphere, would the name have a link? Sound ŕ la YES as a priority, then on keyboard groups including CAMEL to become a symphonic prog reference. The last of the more metallic 'Skallagrim' trilogy, heavy for the finale with the sacrifice of said hero, but shhhh listen to the music, read the story, the chronicle.

"The Years Roll By" opens symphonically on a good Drama-era YES, voice ogling over it and on MOSTLY AUTUMN; melody with prominent bass by Steve who also takes care of the solemn organs giving the warm side, like some notes of the majestic 'Bal des Lazes'. Hannah declines her voice with emotion and lets Fred break out a solo that marks the sound of the group. "Savage" with a half acoustic half heavy intro riff bringing a heavy groovy tune; prog metal title that has been driving the nail for 3 albums, a little on the CRANBERRIES for the voice and the groove, haunting and moaning voice in support; small Japanese break before leaving on a solo organ and very fat keyboards to stand out a little from the vintage 70's sound. "North Of North" for the instrumental title of the album precisely bringing together the 70s with the more electronic 2000s; TANGERINE DREAM atmosphere see new-wave intro a while before the Hammond solo that a YES, DEEP PURPLE, BOSTON could have done lately; it starts again with this progressive ambient atmosphere that I love, bewitching. "All Alone" arrives, riff metallic enough to sound like another band; tortured KING CRIMSON, KING'X, ALICE IN CHAINS; Hannah breathes a nervous tempo quickly helped by Fred, her singular between metal and blues; title effectively showing the duality of the album, final warm bluesy solo. "All For Love" tumbles out as a twirling intro; MAGELLAN, MAGENTA, rock metal which is channeled for a time, Hannah raises her voice like the instruments then modulates it with choirs; sound becomes sticky, annoying, haunting with Hannah screaming; Vintage keyboard solo then Reese's guitar from Arabian Nights for a progressive drift that becomes enjoyable and catchy.

"Snowblind Girl" continues on the same pace, the same metallic Aaron's pad wish; it may confuse fans, but it's Steve's choice; 60's sound on the British pop tune, voice ŕ la Chrissie HYNDE, solo whirling suddenly; the desired amalgam avoids letting go on melodic prog metal, here it's prog metal with layers and drawers with successive breaks, like I hear an air of 'RED' that's to say. Chaotic metal break like sheet music that makes its own progressive music before returning to Hannah with angelic sweetness; final again 'maelstro-orgasmic'. "Standing At The Gate" with the return of Jon DAVISON on vocals for a Yessian title from the years 2025, Hannah draws her voice too much in my opinion and it is the organ that rounds off the musical angles; the recessed synths show off the more progressive GLASS HAMMER sound as well as the final crystal-clear guitar solo. "In The Shadows/It's Love" in two glued parts? for the title of the album, return of the sound of the group, majestic title with piano intro reminding me of LAZULI or ESTHESIS, yes I also listen to French prog; solemn tone with divine Hannah here, everything is said; on the edge of atmospheric, dreamlike and crossover prog, a bewitching melody as a dressing to previous titles or simply magnifying the GLASS HAMMER sound; ah 3'45'' and the magic moment, this redundant, crystalline piano, that's it I have chills; peace of ears, when Skallagrim is faced with his fate; Steve with his organ-YES launches a magnificent, divine moment trying to show the gesture of his hero who is going to sacrifice himself for his beauty; tune ŕ la MOSTLY AUTUMN because I like that band too; Break ŕ la VANGELIS now, divine I tell you; guitar break ŕ la May from QUEEN, I'm melting, good YES it's normal like MAGELLAN again I feel like I'm listening to musical fireworks and a coda of 'Dreaming City' now; solemn break for a final crescendo and yet another aerial solo, I'm putting on the replay.

GLASS HAMMER hits hard with his hammer, yes I wanted to; a booklet telling the story of the hero, some titles at 10/10 like I think someone who notes this way, the other metallic ones to confuse and/or show that prog is not confined to a single genre; contemporary, vintage by reminiscences, current by the agreements found, avant- garde in fact. It was only in 2016 that I started following them again after a first try with their 2006 live, like what over time. This 3rd part therefore closes the story of the thief with a screaming, desperate sword, this album therefore becomes a contender in my top for the emotion released. Ah if all the titles were of the caliber of the last, I will simply have my top 1 of the year.

 Perilous by GLASS HAMMER album cover Studio Album, 2012
3.86 | 216 ratings

Glass Hammer Symphonic Prog

Review by roelgrif

5 stars I really can't believe this album doesn't even get a score of >=4 right now. There are so many wonderful symphonic prog moments in the songs! Some songs may require a few listens to really appreciate them I guess. Don't judge the album after just one walkthrough!

Let's first note that the song titles, read one after another, make a beautiful poem!

1. The Sunset Gate

This track opens with an exposition of the main theme of this concept album, which will be repeated in later tracks, here played by a string trio. Once the piano takes over, you realize it's Hammertime! Although this sounds like an instrumental in the first half of the song, after more than three minutes the voice of Jon Davison makes an appearance, with subtle background vocals. A smooth transition occurs to the next song:

2.Beyond They Dwell

Slightly more uptempo than the previous track, and it may sound a bit more complex on first hearing. Very nice guitar and keyboard solos. Another smooth transition to the next song:

3.The Restless Ones

This song is mainly a vocal solo with piano accompaniment. At the end a surprising turn occurs into a suddenly very soft intro of the next song:

4. They Cast their Spell

I see this song as a kind of introduction to 'In That Lonely Place' (later on the album). A very creative chord progression, arpeggio played, on which the melody keeps spinning and changing in unforeseeable directions.

5. We Slept, we Dreamed

This song starts with the main theme of No. 1, now played on the piano, later joined by recorders and oboe. After a longer passage with vocals and especially keyboards, the exceptional beauty of this song really reveals itself at the end, where a vocal chorus kicks in like a classical choir. In the peaceful silence of a continuous low base note, the vocal chords flow like a renaissance Latin motet. Awesome!

6. The Years Were Sped

This is a very nice intermezzo with classical guitar sound.

7.Our Foe Revealed

An uptempo song with a very catchy riff about halfway through, at the end of the vocals.

8. Towards Home We Fled

This song has taken the most time to mature for me, especially because of the complex chord progressions and rhythms. In my experience you can appreciate it once you get used to it. But not easy to digest. A bit like tasting good but old wine.

9. While the Sun Dipped Low

A beautiful instrumental interlude, soundscape-like. Just close your eyes and watch the sun sink low.

10. The Wolf Gave Chase

Again an instrumental track, but now very up-tempo and a bit nervous. Excellent keyboard work in a very proggy style. Also a very impressive guitar solo. This song ends on a repeated augmented triad giving way to the album's most mellow interlude:

11. We Fell At Last

Acoustic solo guitar part, almost harp-like, a kind of intro for the next song:

12. In That Lonely Place

In my opinion, this symphonic ballad is the very best Glass Hammer song *ever*. On a very creative 5-chord progression, a melody is woven that with each subsequent measure goes somewhere else than you would expect. The couplets are sung by three different singers who each give their own flavor to that beautiful almost-from-out-of-space melody. The chorus is also very impressive and builds to a climax at the end of the 3rd chorus, but then continues and closes halfway through the 4th chorus. However, it's still not over yet? yes indeed, the main theme of the album returns at the end of this excellent track.

13. Where Sorrows Died and Came No More

After a quick piano and keyboard intro, a majestic song starts in slow motion that seems to close the album. However, after a few minutes an instrumental part follows where the tempo picks up again, in preparation for a fantastic symphonic and vocal end to this truly great album.

 Dreaming City by GLASS HAMMER album cover Studio Album, 2020
3.70 | 147 ratings

Dreaming City
Glass Hammer Symphonic Prog

Review by A Crimson Mellotron
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Fantastic stuff here, not too many contemporary symphonic prog albums manage to be so enjoyable and intriguing, both fun and intricate, crossing effortlessly back and forth between different genres just in the span of an hour, all of this has to be in the essence of progressive rock, on full display on Glass Hammer's 2020 studio release titled 'Dreaming City', a concept album that serves as the first part of the so-called Skallagrim trilogy, a sci-fi opus that sees the Tennessee-native band go real heavy, while maintaining their melodicism and lush presentation.

Masterminds and multi-instrumentalists Steve Babb (bass, keyboards, vocals) and Fred Schendel (keyboards, guitars, vocals) deliver an enviable collection of twelve songs that should be endeavored in one take since most of them transition into one another, ideally making up the aforementioned first installment of the story, joined by drummer Aaron Raulston, among several other vocalists that appear throughout the LP. 'Dreaming City', the band's eighteenth studio recording opens up with the hard-rocking riff of the glorious title track with vocals by Babb, just to display this myriad of styles that the collective goes through throughout the entire duration of the album - symphonic rock is omnipresent, of course being the frame for the sound of Glass Hammer as well as throbbing hard rock, 70s style, with raging keyboards and mind-blowing solos, perhaps reminiscent of some early Uriah Heep or the virtuosic playing of someone like Jon Lord; there is a strong Rush influence in some sections, some sprinkles of Tull-tinted sections featuring lovely flutes, entire tracks that worship the sequencing magic of a band like Tangerine Dream, among other things. Such a pleasant, vibrant album, full of different sounds and moods, the bass tone of Steve Babb is quite impressive, the keyboards are incredible, the guitars are also great, then there are the several vocalists that all do a lovely job.

No bad songs on here, also keeping in mind the fact that they should be heard together, in the context of the album. The music is awesome, the band have their grip on the 'progressive' aspect of it all strongly, and present a surprisingly heavy side that is also very welcome and suits them finely. Some highlights would be (apart from the title track) 'Cold Star', the rocking 'Pagarna', the electronica of 'At the Threshold of Dreams', the melancholic 'This Lonely World', the gorgeous songs 'A Desperate Man' and 'The Key'.

Straightforward, impressive, proggy, catchy, emotional, it seems like 'Dreaming City' has it all, an excellent album that I already consider a classic of modern progressive rock.

 Skallagrim: Into the Breach by GLASS HAMMER album cover Studio Album, 2021
4.01 | 93 ratings

Skallagrim: Into the Breach
Glass Hammer Symphonic Prog

Review by rdtprog
Special Collaborator Heavy / RPI / Symphonic Prog Team

4 stars From their symphonic first period, Glass Hammer has added some new ideas in their last releases, but this time they have gone even further exploring the classic hard rock field and space music which made it difficult to think that you are listening to the same band. After a short piano intro, we have the heavy sound of the guitars and a strait forward style with some spacey keys. "Sellssword" continues in the same atmosphere with a nice bass break. For the first time, the keys are upfront but the guitar won't let this for long. "Steel" calm things down and Fred Schendel is displaying all his tools with a fast keyboard part. There is another impressive dark instrumental passage with Steve Babb's bass work in a Pink Floyd first-period atmosphere. This song is the most progressive of the album with many twists and turns. And then the song "A Spell Upon His Mind" is in a completely different style of music with his Tangerine Dream electronica style. The spacey atmosphere continues with the instrumental "Moon Pool" showing another face of Glass Hammer that explores some jazzy and repetitive drums/bass beat. "The Dark" short instrumental brings back some heavy sound with some nice keyboards lines. "The Ogre of Archon" displays some hard rock with a grunge influence. "The Forlorn Hope" and The Writing on the Wall" we can hear influences from Led Zep and Rush at both beginnings of those songs. I am more satisfied with this new album than those they released 10 years ago after "If". Is it because it's heavier and darker? The songs simply connect with me more than those albums.
 Skallagrim: Into the Breach by GLASS HAMMER album cover Studio Album, 2021
4.01 | 93 ratings

Skallagrim: Into the Breach
Glass Hammer Symphonic Prog

Review by TenYearsAfter

4 stars This USA formation was founded in 1992 by the two multi-instrumentalists Steve Babb and Fred Schendel, now anno 2021 Glass Hammer have released their 20th studio-album, in almost 30 years. To be honest, it's more than 10 years ago that I listened to a new Glass Hammer album so I was very curious to this latest effort. Well, I am stunned, Glass Hammer goes heavy, what a cascades of smoking guitars and sumptuous Hammond layers, and what a strong female voice, wow!

Anthem To Andorath (from fat guitar riffs to spacey synthesizers, topped with powerful duo vocals) reminds me of Metallica.

Sellsword (embellished with Mellotron choirs and a waw-wah drenched guitar solo) evokes Led Zeppelin to me.

And Hyperborea (strong work on guitar and keyboards) is obviously inspired by Rush.

More Heavy Prog in Steel (heavy guitars and powerful Hammond), The Dark (swirling Hammond and rocking guitars), The Ogre Of Archon (biting wah-wah guitar and another powerful Hammond solo) and Into The Breach (blistering guitar runs).

But Glass Hammer also delivers more mellow tracks, and more variety. Like a dreamy sound with celestial female vocals in the short opener He's Got a Girl. Spacey synthesizers and tasteful sequencing in A Spell Upon His Mind. An atmospheric climate with percussion and guitar in Moon Pool. And In The Forlorn Hope the heavy and bombastic sound turns halfway into a mellow folky atmosphere featuring dreamy female vocals, guitar and keyboards, a nice musical twist.

What a strong, dynamic and varied album, I am pleasantly surprised by this new Glass Hammer sound, and I love that distinctive Hammond-heavy guitar combo, reminding me of Vanilla Fudge, Atomic Rooster, Deep Purple and Uriah Heep.

 Skallagrim: Into the Breach by GLASS HAMMER album cover Studio Album, 2021
4.01 | 93 ratings

Skallagrim: Into the Breach
Glass Hammer Symphonic Prog

Review by Squonk19

5 stars U.S. proggers Glass Hammer follow up their 2020 Dreaming City album, with Skallagrim: Into the Breach; the second album in a planned trilogy paying homage to the sword and sorcery novels of the '60s and '70s, and by inference the prog-infused hard rock of the '70s. Dark, heavy and bass driven at times, yet with enough of the band's keyboard-led 'proggery' to please their loyal fanbase and bring in fresh devotees as well.

Formed back in 1992 by Steve Babb and Fred Schendel, Glass Hammer have always had a chameleon-like character to their sound ? often defined by their shifting line-ups. This has often made it difficult to know what to expect from the band, from one album to another. Driving, retro classic and progressive rock, but also symphonic rock elements (the Jon Davison-era, especially), with folky and poppy moments throughout their extended back catalogue. It is very much a case of diving into Forrest Gump's chocolate box and seeing what you find. It can be a leap of faith, but one that can reward prog rock listeners who enjoy a bit of diversity and some surprises along the way.

Dreaming City, the first part of the fantasy-based trilogy, was imbued with the spirit of Michael Moorcock's Elric of Melniboné novels, with touches of the likes of the Hawkmoon and Eternal Champion stories that hooked many a teenager in the early '70s ? myself included. The band have not been averse to science fiction and fantasy themes in the past, including the works of Tolkien, and Steve Babb has been inspired to pen his own novel, Skallagrim: In the Valley of Pagarna, set for publication in 2022.

The narrative follows the thief, Skallagrim, armed with his screaming sword, Terminus, leaving Archon (The Dreaming City) to travel to savage and magical lands in search of his memories and the hope of finding the girl he has loved and lost. This latest album continues the quest and sees our protagonist going to war. As a result, the album is even darker, heavier and angrier than its predecessor ? both musically and lyrically.

Babb and Schendel are joined by guest musicians Aaron Raulson on drums, with Reese Boyd and Brian Brewer sharing lead guitar duties. The album also introduces new vocalist Hannah Pryor, and it is her dreamy voice floating over a gentle piano theme that starts proceedings. Opening track He's Got A Girl is an understated start, but it soon transforms into the powerful, riff-driven sound of Anthem to Andorath, which hits you right between the eyes. There is an almost Metallica-like feel to the guitars, and Babb's huge bass sound dominates as Pryor's vocals manage to glide over this dense foundation and yet pierce through it at the same time.

Sellsword continues in a similar style, with Sabbath-style guitar work joined by forceful keyboard chords. We are not in prog metal territory here ? this is full-on '70s hard rock with hints of Uriah Heep and Budgie to accompany the narrative, as the battle rages on. Steel has more light and shade and whilst still very muscular overall, there are more traditional prog-orientated chunks of keyboard within the ominous ensemble instrumentation. Pryor's voice once again cuts through the wall of sound with both power and clarity.

A well-timed change in both atmosphere and tempo occurs with a trio of instrumental tracks. A Spell Upon His Mind has pulsating keyboards and effects, with the electronica accompanied by haunting guitar overtones. Moon Pool has a hypnotic jazz-influenced drum and bass beat dominating, but the unsettling, spacey atmosphere is maintained by the intertwining guitar and keyboards. Finally, The Dark re-emphasises the dark and menacing atmospherics with deep chiming guitar over a rich ELP-flavoured Hammond organ.

Moving into the heart of the album, The Ogre of Archon has Babb take over the vocal duties and this helps give the track a heavier Jethro Tull style at times, mixed with hints of Groundhogs and the Zeppelin-influenced sound of Rush's debut album ? with the bass propelling the music along with retro keyboards and soaring guitars aplenty. Into the Breach continues this driving amalgam of '70s rock, including psychedelic/space rock at times, with the Hammond organ keeping the prog-quotient high.

Pryor's singing on The Forlorn Hope contrasts nicely with the heavy music, as Skallagrim's quest continues. However, there is a refreshing switch in tone as acoustic guitar and a pastoral Wishbone Ash-style is introduced mid-way, and the "dream on, dream on" vocal refrain signals a return of our thief's memories, long dormant, of his lost love and her name ? Lirazel.

The Writing on the Wall is dominated by a rumbling, swaying, funky tempo, and it definitely gets your head nodding in time to the music under the powerful vocals, as it progressively builds up in intensity. The band have fun with some Tarkus-like keyboard patterns and the catchy chorus makes this one of the most accessible tracks, encapsulating the overall feel of the whole album in one track.

At just under 10 minutes in duration, Hyperborea is pure classic Rush, with Lifeson-style guitar patterns from the very start. There is more light and shade here, with Xanadu touches to the synthesisers, bells and percussion. It comes over as a genuinely affectionate homage to the Canadian band in their late '70s period, and everyone seems to be having a whale of a time as a result, as our hero sets out for the final part of his quest. Finally, Bright Sword sees Skallagrim reach the iron doors of Zagzagel and reprises the theme from A Desperate Man from the previous album ? all setting everything up perfectly for the final album of the trilogy in the months to come.

If Dreaming City whetted your appetite for Glass Hammer's epic, heavier-style of classic '70s rock with prog flourishes and a dramatic retro-style fantasy narrative, then Skallagrim definitely delivers it once again. It is an album that rewards repeated listening, and whether you embrace the synergy between the music and storyline, or simply enjoy the shifting musical soundscapes, Babb, Schendel and the band are clearly in their element as they knowingly mix the old and new to create something fresh, heavy and powerful, and yet undeniably progressive.


 Skallagrim: Into the Breach by GLASS HAMMER album cover Studio Album, 2021
4.01 | 93 ratings

Skallagrim: Into the Breach
Glass Hammer Symphonic Prog

Review by yeshead 777

5 stars I'm finally writing a review of the band who has had a special place in my heart for 20 years or so. I first ran across GH shortly after I moved to Chattanooga, TN. their hometown in 1998. I bought the "Shadowlands" CD and was blown away when I saw they were from my town so I contacted Steve and became good fast friends with Him and Fred, the core of GH. Even to the point of being a guest at their studio, Sound Resources, several times and was fortunate to see them live first at belmont in Nashville, then at the Tivoli in Chattanooga where me and a buddy got to help behind the scenes, and then again at Rhythm and Brews when Aaron first joined the band. Shortly thereafter i moved a long way away but of course have kept up with their music and Steve on social media so I am still very invested in their music. Along the way I lost some interest with "Ode to Echo", "Breaking of the World" and Valkyrie" which just didnt move me like the period of "Lex Rex, Shadowlands, and The Inconsolable Secret" or the "IF" period with Jon Davison. Until "Chromonaut", which was a real true to form retro prog record, and then last years "Dreaming City" which saw them delve into harder, edgier, even darker material. Both of these were very fresh to me in a way the last few had not been so much, at least for me. So that brings to me their hardest, edgiest, and darkest album of all that continues the story of the love lost thief protagonist of the first chapter of this trilogy that started with Dreaming City. I'm going to mainly concentrate on the musical side of things and not so much the lyrics or story at this time. Track by track: 1)He's got a girl (9.0)- haunting brief intro that introduces Hannah Pryor to the GH world. Starts with beautiful simple piano melody. 2)Anthem to Andorath (8.0)- Comes out of the gate with guns blazing. Great riff with some soaring vocals by Hannah, but she's just getting warmed up. I kind of wanted this song to go a little further or deeper that's why the 8.0 rating instead of a 9 or 10. 3)Sellsword (8.5)- the first riffs here are pretty unrecognizable as GH. this one had to grow on me some and still is. again great vocal. Hardest song on the album. 4)Steel (9.0)- A great song that mixes more old style symphonic prog with the new almost prog-metal sound. This one solidifies Hanna as a keeper! 5)A Spell upon his mind, 6)Moon Pool, and 7)The Dark (8.0)-All instrumentals very different from each other and intriguing but don't quite grab me like what's about to come or what preceeded it. The Next 5 songs are among the best, IMHO, that they've ever done: 8)-The Ogre of Archon (9.0)- Here's where the Rush influence gets stronger and even other classic rock bands like Blue Oyster cult and Black Sabbath are heard. Steve and Fred handle the vocals well and there's some great vintage keys by Fred on this one that are sorely missed on alot of this album. 9)-Into the Breach (9.0)- this one starts out really hard and dark with some great riffs and then again strong vocals from fred and Steve and alot great trading off on keys and guitar solos. 10)-The Forlorn Hope (9.5)-Starts out with their most infectious riff yet and this one stays hard and strong with a soaring vocal by Hanna until that abruptly changes at the midway point to an etheral accoustic section that is as pretty and haunting as anything they've ever recorded. What a great song! 11)- the Writing on the wall (9.5)- by far the most hooky and commercial(sorry Steve) song I've ever heard from GH- and they totally pull it off. Best GH earworm besides "Terminus" from the last record. this should make Hannah a star! 12)- Hyperborea (10)-Ii had to give at least one song a 10. Obviously a Rush tribute from beginning to end and totally worn on their sleeve. But it is still GH, not an imitation, and this song flows so well, and the fact that it captures the "Carees of Steel" period of Rush just shows how much these guys love ALL of Rush. Just blast it loud and ROCK out! 13)-Bright Sword (9.5)- Brief and beautiful end with one beautiful line sung by Hannah. A couple of other notes- the guitars on this-riffs, rhythm, and solos are all note perfect, just not sure which are done by whom, Fred or guest guitarists-Reese Boyd and Brian Brewer, who are both monsters. Aaron Raulston's drumming is his best so far-move it up in the mix Steve! The mix is overall very good and brings the vocals more forefront than they've been sometimes in the past. That obviously is a nod to the power of hannah's vocals. And Steve's bass work fits this music to a tee, so powerful yet melodic all the way through. He has found his true home! This is just a great album whether it is from friends of mine or not, but I guess I am a little biased. After 30 years or so of making great music they've truly made one of their best. And it ROCKS hard! Thanks guys! love and miss ya'll. David.
Thanks to ProgLucky for the artist addition. and to Quinino for the last updates

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