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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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Sound Resources / Arion Records 2010
$9.96 (used)
CD Baby 2016
$4.53 (used)
Ode To EchoOde To Echo
Sound Resources / Arion Records 2014
$8.00 (used)
Mostly Live In ItalyMostly Live In Italy
Sound Resources / Arion Records 2018
Sound Resources / Arion Records 2012
$10.01 (used)
Sound Resources 2016
$13.79 (used)
The Breaking of the WorldThe Breaking of the World
Arion Records 2015
$7.00 (used)
Untold TalesUntold Tales
Sound Resources / Arion Records 2017
On Our OwnOn Our Own
Glass Hammer 2013
$11.97 (used)
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GLASS HAMMER discography

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

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

2.02 | 74 ratings
Journey Of The Dunadan
3.06 | 76 ratings
3.07 | 80 ratings
On To Evermore
3.31 | 142 ratings
2.42 | 70 ratings
The Middle Earth Album
3.76 | 176 ratings
Lex Rex
3.71 | 199 ratings
3.40 | 183 ratings
The Inconsolable Secret
3.54 | 163 ratings
Culture Of Ascent
3.02 | 107 ratings
Three Cheers For The Broken-Hearted
3.90 | 298 ratings
2.94 | 48 ratings
3.74 | 206 ratings
Cor Cordium
3.84 | 194 ratings
3.46 | 145 ratings
Ode To Echo
3.84 | 148 ratings
The Breaking Of The World
3.87 | 137 ratings

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

3.09 | 14 ratings
Live and Revived
3.68 | 27 ratings
Live At Nearfest
3.97 | 13 ratings
Double Live
0.00 | 0 ratings
Mostly Live in Italy

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

4.26 | 20 ratings
Lex Live
4.11 | 24 ratings
Live At Belmont
4.24 | 12 ratings
Live at The Tivoli
4.50 | 4 ratings
Double Live

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

3.79 | 17 ratings
The Compilations, 1996 to 2004
4.20 | 15 ratings
The Inconsolable Secret - Deluxe Edition
3.94 | 13 ratings
Untold Tales

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

4.67 | 3 ratings
Cool Air


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Shadowlands by GLASS HAMMER album cover Studio Album, 2004
3.71 | 199 ratings

Glass Hammer Symphonic Prog

Review by WFV

3 stars I want so badly to like these guys. Their prog sound is so pure and I judge their collective hearts are in the right place. All their albums sound professionally done and the instrumentation can be quite engaging. Still, too mainstream and saccharine for my tastes. Their album covers and song titles are so mainstream stereotyped prog rock I'm turned off each time I listen.

Still, "Longer" is a masterpiece rearranging of a soft rock Dan Fogelberg tune that I think wouldn't be out of place on any prog rock compilation and is a must hear. They could make a whole album of soft rock covers in this vein and I would buy it. "Hummingbird" and "Reminiscing" and Paul Davis' "Cool Night" and Steve Winwood's "While You See a Chance" have potential,

 Live at The Tivoli by GLASS HAMMER album cover DVD/Video, 2008
4.24 | 12 ratings

Live at The Tivoli
Glass Hammer Symphonic Prog

Review by TenYearsAfter


This year it's 25 years ago that USA progrock formation Glasshammer released their first album Journey Of The Dunadan, anno 2018 Glasshammer has released 17 studio-albums, 3 live CD's and 4 live DVD's, along 3 compilations and even 1 single (Cool Air from 2016). They also did a 25th Anniversary tour, including a gig on the Cruise To The Edge. And on May 18th the band will release a new live album entitled Mostly Live In Italy, incredible, what a prolific progrock band! The backbone of Glasshammer is the duo Fred Schendel and Steve Babb (both multi-instrumentalists), after all those years they are the only original members.

I am not familiar with the Double Live DVD from 2015 but I have watched Glasshammer their first two live DVD's Lex Live (2004) and Live At Belmont (2006). If I compare these two with this third live DVD entitled Live At The Tivoli, I conclude that this one is superior: more varied (the band has invited The Adonia String Trio and the massive The Lee University Choral Union and The GPS Girls Choir) and Glass Hammer has matured during the years. Their very melodic sound is drenched into the Seventies symphonic rock tradition (especially Yes, ELP and Kansas) but more accessible and with an important role for the vocals (as usual in the USA progrock), along a male singer also three female vocalists. Fred Schendel delivers lots of strong keyboard work, from dazzling synthesizer flights and powerful Hammond organ runs to some majestic church organ and lush Mellotron waves. Another focal point is the guitarwork featuring lots of powerful and fiery solos and exciting interplay with the keyboards.

The atmospheres in the 10 compositions range from dreamy with violins (even a solo piece by The Adonia String Trio in Longer) and acoustic guitar to bombastic and up-tempo, with splendid work on guitar and keyboards. Especially in the track Knight Of The North and Having Caught A Glimpse, this is Glass Hammer at their best: exciting shifting moods with swirling Emersonian Hammond organ, fat synthesizer flights, powerful interplay between the musicians and compelling final parts with a huge choir and church organ. The final song is the Yes cover South Side Of The Sky (the studio version featured Jon Anderson), Glass Hammer does a decent job with good female vocals and a strong fiery guitar solo.

Excellent work!

 Untold Tales by GLASS HAMMER album cover Boxset/Compilation, 2017
3.94 | 13 ratings

Untold Tales
Glass Hammer Symphonic Prog

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

4 stars Notable modern American prog-rock band Glass Hammer have decided to mark time in-between their grander symphonic works with `Untold Tales', their second collection of rarities after the little-known `The Compilations' collection from 2006. Covering 1993 through to now, it contains several instrumental sketches, a recent live adaption, all-new exclusive pieces, contributions to various-artist sets and a couple of covers, and it makes for a lovely stop-gap release that will especially hold great appeal to long term fans of the band.

Opener `Shadows of the Past' originally appeared in much sparser form on Glass Hammer's debut album `Journey of the Dunadan' back in 1993, and here keyboardist Fred Schendel has been able to give this short introductory piece a suitably grander orchestral-like makeover, and it lifts the piece closer to something along the lines of the fancy and prancing fanfare pomp of Rick Wakeman's solo work. Further instrumental `Infusion' hails from a rare 1995 solo album that the band contributed to by one of their early singers Tracy Cloud, and a compact and nimble symphonic interlude it is, where some of the whirring keyboards call to mind Dream Theater's Jordan Rudess.

The first lengthy prog workout arrives with the spiritual themed `Identity Principle', a near-thirteen minute epic that was partially recorded in the mid Nineties and recently completed, and it could have easily found a home on the early `Lex Rex' and `Chronometree'-era albums of the band. There's no shortage of crisp ringing electric guitars and softer acoustic strums dancing around strident drumming, and the contemplative lyric is given plenty of vocal variety from the trio of Fred, bassist Steve Babb and frequent Hammer vocalist Walter Moore. A cover of Argent's `Hold Your Head Up' has been given a bombastic rocking makeover in a punchy Neal Morse/Spock's Beard-like manner, instrumental classical reinterpretation `Babb's Bach' is a delightful smorgasbord of ravishing Moog, pretty piano and Steve's murmuring bass, and his `And Then She Sighed' is lovely shorter choir-lifted madrigal folk prettiness in the fairy-tale manner of so many early Glass Hammer pieces.

`Eiger Dreams', used to open Glass Hammer's `Live at the Tivoli' DVD from 2008 starts with moody electronic ambience before launching into electric guitar histrionics, and frequent Glass Hammer leading lady Susie Bogdanowicz takes the lead for the Beatles cover `It's All Too Much' that stands apart from the original and Steve Hillage versions with thick Hammond organ and a strident stomp. The snarling bluesy guitars, dirty harmonica and bashing drums of `Troll' perfectly convey the sly dig at unhelpful and negative internet taunts, and it's one of the heaviest pieces the band have ever delivered with just a hint of dusty plodding stoner rock to it! Dating from 2010 and linked to the `If' sessions, guitarist Kamran Alan Shikoh's `A Grain of Sand' is an ethereal guitar rumination that almost serves the same purpose here as those Steve Howe acoustic breaks on so many Yes albums - although Fred and Steve help out with little fancy touches!

The near-ten minute organ and Mellotron dominated dreamy epic `Cool Air' originates from the superb 2012 triple CD set `The Stories of H.P Lovecraft: A Syn-phonic Collection' (also several fine Italian modern prog bands on that box-set, do check it out!) and features future Yes frontman Jon Davison on vocals, and it compliments the darkest Davison-led Glass Hammer album `Perilous' with its ghostly atmosphere and maddening gothic symphonic mood. With connections to Sound of Contact/Mantra Vega's multi-instrumentalist David Kerzner and Rush's Neil Peart, `The Impulsive Type' is sung by frequent Hammer contributor over the years Carl Groves, and it's a sleek metallic harder edged rocker. The disc then concludes with a blistering take on `No Man's Land' off Glass Hammer's recent superb concept disc `Valkyrie', and it's wilder, more jagged and frequently attacked with an aggressive energy, with Aaron Raulston's busy thrashing drumming, Steve's malevolent crooning and Susie's raucous vocal taking plenty of the focus.

While these sort of compilations are rarely essential, `Untold Tales' is a very welcome undemanding set that makes for a welcome breather between the bigger conceptual musical statements that Glass Hammer frequently issue like `The Inconsolable Secret' and `Valkyrie'. It probably didn't need the live piece at the very end (as great as it is!), because solely studio recordings help discs like this serve as a fine standalone album in their own right. But `Untold Tales' is a winning collection of unrelated pieces that also serves as a nice commemorative set to celebrate the quarter century career of one of the leading modern symphonic bands, and it should tide over fans of the group nicely until the next grand Glass Hammer work.

Four stars.

 Valkyrie by GLASS HAMMER album cover Studio Album, 2016
3.87 | 137 ratings

Glass Hammer Symphonic Prog

Review by FragileKings
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Glass Hammer is a band that I have always liked since I first bought "If" a few years ago and I felt they had great ability to produce some fantastic symphonic prog. The thing was that the albums I bought after "If" (older albums) were not as impressive to me and I finally decided to leave off buying any more albums until some future date. Last year I was ready to give the band another chance to impress me as they had already released a few albums after "If". Since "Valkyrie" was the freshest delivery, I decided to go for that one. One review I read praised it while another review warned that it was not as good as previously released albums. What would my impression be?

Well, first of all, I had the impression that Glass Hammer were slowly trying to become a modern day Yes. It was as if they were saying, "If Yes won't do it this way then we will!" One can't help but feel that way when "The Culture of Ascent" covers "South Side of the Sky" and features a guest appearance by Jon Anderson or when "If" and "Cor Cordium" vocalist Jon Davison goes on to become the lead vocalist for Yes, or when they have this wonderful bass guitar sound that resembles Chris Squire's so much. But to be fair, Glass Hammer are not exactly like Yes, and on "Valkyrie" I think they have moved along, taking much of the Yes decor out of their music and adding in other influences and ideas.

Though the music intrigued me from the start, I was on the cusp of moving on from contemporary prog and into other styles of music, so I left this one for nearly a year before coming back to it recently. The album surprised me because as I walked home with my phone in my pocket and the ear buds pumping the music into the space between my ears, I kept taking the phone out of my pocket to check the song titles. That's because it was like, "Wow, that sounds really cool. What song is that?" And this process continued from the second track throughout nearly the whole album.

This is a story of a soldier returning home from the horrors of war to the girl who loves him, and to bring the story to life we have founding member Steve Babb (who also gives us that awesome bass) on lead vocals for the male lines and Susie Bogdanowicz on lead vocals for the female parts. My honest opinion is that while Steve Babb can lay down some fabulous bass work, his lead vocals are a notch behind what I'd like to hear from a lead vocalist for this kind of music. The good point is that he doesn't sing too often and Susie gets more lead vocal work (so I felt anyway). But how strong Steve is as a vocalist becomes a negligible concern as the album rolls on. As is usual for Glass Hammer, they very naturally write and produce some far out classic-prog-inspired symphonic prog. Aside from the rumbling and outstanding bass playing, you'll get a great blend of organ and guitar solos, and lengthy songs that cover different changes in music. There's pretty; there's almost a light Beatle-esque pop approach; there are ELP moments, hints of Pink Floyd keyboards in a place or two, and some music that goes a little darker and harder or heavier than what I've heard in the past.

I made some notes as I listened to this album for the second time recently (not counting the times I heard it last year) and it seems I have noted that "Golden Days" could be my favourite track, or maybe it's the 14-minute "No Man's Land" which is a true epic with some many changing parts, or it's "Fog of War" for its darker parts, or maybe it's the surprising change toward more dramatic music from lighter in "Dead and Gone". But then "Eucastrophe" features a beautiful acoustic intro with a dynamic organ/bass/drum passage coming in. "Nexus Girl" is a unique piece on this album and reminds me a bit of Nine Inch Nails in their softer, quieter moments.

So, this is the album that has reawakened my interest in Glass Hammer. It is not something grand and new and mind-blowing but "Valkyrie" has proved to me that Glass Hammer are capable of surprising me in a very positive way.

 Shadowlands by GLASS HAMMER album cover Studio Album, 2004
3.71 | 199 ratings

Glass Hammer Symphonic Prog

Review by martindavey87

4 stars It's understandable that progressive rock is not always the easiest music to pick up, and an album like this, featuring just five tracks that range between seven and twenty-one minutes in length, certainly takes repeated listens before things start to fall into place. But the juice is worth the squeeze, because 'Shadowlands' is an enjoyable and infectious album, full of tasty melodies and catchy vocals.

With plenty of intricately-layered melodies, making full use of various instruments and multiple singers, Glass Hammer's sound, described as "symphonic prog", is as grandiose and epic as you can imagine. With interesting harmonies and some well thought-out lyrics, it's a shame that progressive rock, a genre that should be so appealing to so many people, is so easily overlooked.

Featuring some true gems such as 'So Close, So Far', 'Run Lisette' and the centerpiece of the album, 'Behind the Great Beyond', Glass Hammer's 'Shadowlands' is an awe-inspiring effort, which doesn't come across as pompous or self- indulgent. It's just one epic after another. The production does a fine job of giving every instrument enough clarity without being overbearing, which is quite a feat when there's so many things going on at any one time.

A true marvel of symphonic prog, this album is an absolute joy to listen to, and an essential addition to the collection of anyone who yearns for those classic days of yesteryear, when bands like Yes, King Crimson and ELP were all the rage.

 Chronometree by GLASS HAMMER album cover Studio Album, 2000
3.31 | 142 ratings

Glass Hammer Symphonic Prog

Review by nandprogger

4 stars When I hear something of GL, I think: is more a prog tribute to classics of progrock. In this case is the same, but is more fantastic tribute. As a big fan of Elp I love this album, not only for this. A grand advantage of a lot of albuns of Gl is a mix of other elements that make sounds different. The sounds involving psychedelic elements of spacial/alien history. This psychedelic voices in ballads and the bass sounds create a immersion into history. In other had, I think if you are a big fan of ELP albuns but there are albuns that don't like, hear this. The theme "chronommetree" is in a whole of album inspired in the sounds of hammonds. Is right the criticism of variety of sounds of GL sounds only a tribute for 70's prog rock bands, but is don't take away the merit of a lot of GL albuns. For me is more a ELP album don't done for ELP as TRIUMVIRAT. 4 stars for fantastic ELP inspired album and immersion history
 The Inconsolable Secret by GLASS HAMMER album cover Studio Album, 2005
3.40 | 183 ratings

The Inconsolable Secret
Glass Hammer Symphonic Prog

Review by csglinux

5 stars I left a pretty scathing review of Valkyrie on progarchives a few weeks ago, which prompted a response questioning where my positive reviews of my favorite Glass Hammer albums were. Whoops. My bad. I do seem to have more of a tendency to complain than praise and I realized I don't have any positive reviews of GH on this site. So let me try and make amends, starting with my favorite GH album, The Inconsolable Secret.

The Inconsolable Secret doesn't seem to be well-known enough to garner the reputation it deserves. Curiously, it's not had much attention on Progarchives, but it's currently rated 4.5 stars on Amazon. I consider this a masterpiece and one of my all-time favorite albums. The effort that went into producing TIS is evident from the Tolkien-like backstory by Babb (available as a separate CD/book - 'The Lay of Lirazel'), Roger Dean album artwork, packaging - and then re- packaging with updated re-recordings featuring Davison/Shikoh. The original version of TIS comes as a double album (13 tracks) and runs over 95 minutes of music. I'm usually wary of double albums, as they tend to get diluted or stretched a bit thin (The Wall?, The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway? Tales from Topographic Oceans?). That's not the case here. Almost every track is a classic - and each forms part of the story, which is quite epic in its own right. (I've always felt TIS would make a great movie!) One small point of confusion for me is that the tracks appear to be, chronologically, slightly out of order. For example, the album opens with "A Maker of Crowns", but it's really "Long and Long Ago" that sets the scene. I presume tracks were re-ordered to fit more easily on the LPs/CDs? In any case, the structure is that disc 1 contains the two longest tracks, "A Maker of Crowns" and "The Knight of the North". These are both prog masterpieces. A Maker of Crowns starts out with piano, but Fred switches up his keyboard sounds throughout, so they never sound dull or repetitive. I love the tone of the synth keyboard solo at 10:00. Schendel's keyboards are second to none. He has the technical virtuosity of the likes of Rick Wakeman or Lyle Mays, but is also able to play in a way that touches your soul. There's an emotion in his playing that I've never heard that consistently in any other keyboard player. Next up, "The Knight of the North" starts with perhaps a slightly unconventional sound of bass playing over a string section. This is one of the finest moments of symphonic rock I've ever heard. It's not terribly complex musically, but it just works. The same track also finishes with a pretty loop of all instruments covered by choral vocals - one of the most epic-sounding pieces since Yes' Awaken.

"Long and Long Ago" introduces the main theme which eventually gets reprised at the end of the album. One of the best tracks on the album with great instrumental solos and outstanding vocals, particularly from Flo Paris. (BTW, try to name the Yes track at 7:00!) "The Morning She Woke" is a shorter track that picks up the narrative of the story, with Susie taking the role of the King's daughter. "Lirazel" is another shorter track that expands on that main keyboard theme, before Susie picks up more of the narrative. "The High Place" has some of the most beautiful, gentle instrumentation and choral work. Very atmospheric. "Morrigan's Song" has a slightly Celtic sound. I think Fred would call this an interstitial piece, but it's very cute in its own right. "Walking Towards Doom" is an atmospheric instrumental with some spooky choral work which sets a scene of foreboding. You know something bad is going to happen... Mog Ruith picks up the tempo with some up-beat keyboards, which is a bit ironic, because from my recollection of the story, Mog Ruith is where our heroine meets her nemesis. "Through a Glass Darkly" seems to be a fan favorite, and rightly so. It's one of the prettiest pieces on the album with gorgeous harp, strings and vocals from Susie. (Without ruining the story for you, things aren't going too well for the heroine at this point.) "The Lady Waits" is a tasteful string piece that continues the slightly sombre mood, but with some really pretty classical music in the middle. This leads to "The Mirror Cracks" - a brass/harp/string choral lead in to some very tense, doom-laden, dramatic-sounding music which is basically a prelude to the (eventual) happier ending of "Having Caught a Glimpse". This final track is the highlight of the album for me. The build-up and vocals are stunning and the keyboard re-cap of the melody from "Long and Long Ago" with the added choral vocals is just stunning. One of the best endings to one of the best albums I've ever heard. An easy 5 stars.


P.S. TIS is now available in a deluxe version which has re-recordings of Long and Long Ago, The Morning She Woke, A Maker of Crowns, The Knight of the North and Having Caught a Glimpse. These are all great new recordings with additions from Kamran Alan Shikoh and Jon Davison - totally worth having, but I still prefer the originals. As good as JD is, Walter Moore's and particularly Flo Paris' original vocals are some of the most haunting I've ever heard. Thankfully, with the deluxe version, you get both versions :-)

 Valkyrie by GLASS HAMMER album cover Studio Album, 2016
3.87 | 137 ratings

Glass Hammer Symphonic Prog

Review by csglinux

2 stars I want to preface this review by saying I'm a huge Glass Hammer fan (I own all their albums) and my musical tastes almost invariably align with Progarchives ratings for each and every artist/album I've ever heard. However, Valkyrie is an anomaly. Currently, "Valkyrie" enjoys a 4.37 rating here, which would rank it by far the best album Glass Hammer have ever made, and also place it comfortably into the top 100 prog albums of all time. Is it really that good? No, it's not. Not by a mile.

This simply can't be the same band that produced classics like Chronometree, Lex Rex, The Inconsolable Secret, Culture of Ascent, If, Cor Cordium, Perilous, etc. I've suffered through Valkyrie half a dozen times now, and each time it gets more painful. As usual, Glass Hammer's material is well recorded, there's lots of interesting sound effects and lots of virtuoso bass, keyboards and guitar, courtesy of Babbs, Schendel and Shikoh, respectively. But where's the spark? Where's the Glass Hammer magic of old? The first two tracks are utterly non-descript and totally wash over you. The third (No Man's Land) is turgid and way too long, given that nothing interesting happens. (BTW, Fred & Steve - please don't sing! I'd rather listen to my cat wail than your vocals. Can't you get Flo Paris back? Please?!?) Nexus Girl is the first interesting track, but it's electronica - not really any kind of prog. The title track is the best track on the album, but it still isn't anything I feel I'd want to play again. Fog of War is 8 1/2 minutes of your life you'll never get back. I wish I could say the same of Dead and Gone, but this one's worse - it has this annoying "hook" that goes: "There's hope and there's joy... there's love for the soldier boy-ee". Ick. The album would have been better without this track. Eucatastrophe heavily plagiarizes Genesis at the beginning; you expect to hear "Home from work, our Juliet...". The rest of the track is pretty, but nowhere near the quality of "Cinema Show". Rapturo finishes the album with some simple arpeggios on the keyboards, with some tinkly guitar-string sound over the top, all of which goes on way too long. (It wasn't interesting for even the first bar, but it's dragged out for two whole minutes.) Anyway, we finally get a little drum roll into Susie singing about how he's gone (sorry if that's a spoiler, but there's really not much more to spoil about this album).

I can't believe I paid $15 for this. I never thought I'd say this about Glass Hammer, but I want my money back. I'm going to persevere with this album and will change my rating if, at some point in the future, it "clicks" with me and I finally see the genius in this. But honestly, right now I'm dreading having to listen to this album yet again...


P.S. One has to expect some vitriol as the first person to post a less-than-5-star review of any new album. "You must be deaf!". "You're not a proper fan". "Your mother and I are both very disappointed in you". etc., etc. It is quite interesting to get some vitriol from the band itself. However, if this leads to the follow-up album having even just marginally more melody, with only fractionally less electronica/distortion/vocoder effects and only slightly fewer vocals from Steve & Fred, this will have been a worthwhile endeavor. Let's face it, Comfortably Numb only worked because Roger let Dave sing the chorus. Steve & Fred - you're super-talented individuals, but we all have our strengths and weaknesses. I know you know where I'm coming from.

I realize I may have offended and for that I apologise. I will change my rating - I was wrong - I am, in fact, only a small-to-medium-sized Glass Hammer fan. My 2-star opinion of Valkyrie still stands though. This is a poor album by any standards, but particularly poor coming from a band as capable as Glass Hammer.

 Valkyrie by GLASS HAMMER album cover Studio Album, 2016
3.87 | 137 ratings

Glass Hammer Symphonic Prog

Review by BrufordFreak
Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars Using a more open space, 'live' recording style, this band of American veterans has produced what is, in my opinion, their best album ever. The sound here is often quite similar to that of their 'vintage-instruments-only' magnum masterpiece that they contributed to the 2005 Colossus Magazine/Musea Records production of Odyssey: The Greatest Tale. I have not actually contributed many reviews to Glass Hammer releases because they have never really connected or resonated with me before. (Their NeoProg bombast is usually so cheezy and over-the-top Yes- imitative as to not feel worth my time--especially since I do not generally like to give poor reviews--[unless a bubble needs bursting]. Until now, Glass Hammer was free to go about doing what they do [imitate Yes] and I would respectfully leave them alone).

1. "The Fields We Know" (7:37) opens familiarly but then enters into Olympus with the multi-voiced chorus. Despite the presence of oft over-used and domineering Hammond organ and Rickenbacker bass, the boys use the two in different enough ways to allow the melodies and music to feel fresh and not bombastic. (9/10)

2. "Golden Days" (6:20) Though I like all of the vocal contributions to this album, having Susie Bogdanowicz on lead vocals certainly does make for an improved sound. Great melodies and key/chord progressions throughout. (9/10)

3. "No Man's Land" (14:20) opens with a rather long introduction (nearly three minutes) containing some beautiful instrumental soundscapes and chord progressions before the music shifts into a more syncopated stop-and-go section in which tuned percussion and acoustic guitars are given some of the spotlight. A minute later chunky bass, Hammond organ, Steve-Howe-like guitar sounds and riffs and synth washes help support Susie's lead vocal during the first verse. The chorus is more of a collective, male-dominated affair, but then Susie regains the lead with the second verse. The song gets a little funky and a little predictable in the second half--especially in the use of the organ. The vocals get mixed up quite a bit, but then those Hammond runs come in and kind of remind us of why prog died out in the 70s ("too much of that organ" my daughter would say). (8/10)

4. "Nexus Girl" (2:58) is a very modern sounding little instrumental that opens with some great keyboard work supported by some kind of techno-trip hoppy computer-programmed drums. Again, some extraordinary ear candy in the form of the chord progressions, melodies and solos from the lead instruments (synths, MONO-like tremolo electric guitar). Great song! (10/10)

5. "Valkyrie" (5:54) opens in a very Neo Prog fashion with BIG instrumental intro (including Wurlitzer-sounding church organ) before everything quiets down to support a vocal that is interesting for its muted effect for the first verse. The second verse allows the vocalist(s) to go unmuted. Nice melody--which is eventually taken over by Ms. Bogdanowicz. Nice! (9/10)

6. "Fog Of War" (8:23) finds the band, unfortunately, reverting to YES-imitation (Drama's "Tempus Fugit" and others comes to mind immediately). A lead vocal by Susie Bogdanowicz does much to distract us, but then a male takes over in a temporary RUSH-like passage. Back to YES for the fifth minute. Well executed and just original enough to be a total ripoff, but, still . . . Yes was Yes, this is now. (7/10)

7. "Dead And Gone" (9:56) for the first 3:35, this is a fairly simply structured and instrumented song over which Susie Bogdanowicz sings a gorgeous plaintive lyric about soldiers (as metaphor for ) But then the ELP-like Hammond bombast enters and threatens to take over. Luckily, this is fairly short-lived, until a GENESIS-like section takes over for a Steve Babb's brief turn at lead vocal. By 6:30 we're back to the simplicity and beauty of the first section. Some of the instruments do crank up their volume and intensity a bit in the eighth minute before a heavier, funky, effected instrumental section takes over before another brief Steve Babb vocal. Then, at the nine minute mark the music shifts to fast, more ELP instrumental bombast. I guess it's hardwired in these guys by now . . . (8/10)

8. "Eucatastrophe" (3:30) opens with the arpeggiated chords that ended GENESIS' "Cinema Show" before shifting into a gentle acoustic support for Susie Bogdanowicz' gorgeous lead vocal--which is sung mostly in the upper registers with her head voice. At the two-minute mark begins an instrumental onslaught led by Hammond organ and Rickebacker bass to end the song. Odd and incongruous--earning it's marks for the gorgeous first two minutes. (9/10)

9. "Rapturo" (6:12) opens with a couple of bell-like synth notes being played percussively while echo-y piano emotionally fills some of the lower end spaciousness. Really pretty! And then at the 2:25 mark drums, synths and Susie Bogdanowicz's gorgeous, almost angelic vocal fill the cathedral skies. The end of the depression is always uplifting but at the same time scary cuz you never know when 'the Dark One' will return. Thank god this one did not venture into Yes-land. If anything, it stayed in Post Rock territory! Gorgeous and powerful song! (10/10)

Despite producing one of my all-time favorite prog epics for the Odyssey: The Greatest Tale project, GLASS HAMMER has had a great deal of trouble winning me into their corner. With Valkyrie they may have finally done it! Four stars; an excellent addition to any prog rock music collection.

 Valkyrie by GLASS HAMMER album cover Studio Album, 2016
3.87 | 137 ratings

Glass Hammer Symphonic Prog

Review by tszirmay
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

5 stars War. A revolting human trait that has plagued mankind since that silly monkey decided to bash that nasty gorilla over the head with some abandoned saurian femur, as depicted so vividly on 2001 Space Odyssey. Seems like advanced and enlightened societies fare no better that the primitive barbarians (as if the Romans were fuzzy and wuzzy in their conquests!) It is impossible to be a historian, amateur or professional, without dabbling in some kind of "cassus belli" that defines some period in human development. Sad. True. C'est la vie!

Veteran American prog band Glass Hammer continues to delve further into this subject matter, proving its importance by making a gigantic leap forward with this splendid effort "Valkyrie". Arguable perhaps, their finest career moment remains the live at the Belmont DVD as well as 'the Inconsolable Secret' double album, a perennial favorite of many GH fans. I really liked "Culture of Ascent" as well but it seemed to me and many others that subsequent albums while being quite tasty, never really hit the heights of that whopping 2CD masterpiece. "Cor Cordium" and "If" were fine recordings but had no staying power in terms of melodies and return visit yearnings. It seemed somehow missing soul or even depth, though the playing was phenomenal. With "Valkyrie", it obvious immediately that a new infusion of sound as well as a deepening sense of pace has taken root and flourished. Sprinkled throughout this opus are some snippets that are totally new to GH, as if Schendel and Babb searched out more resonating sounds that were modern, yet retro, futuristic and also backward looking historic ( a sort of oxymoron, as history knows only one tense). This is best expressed on the brief but exhilarating "Nexus Girl", a tremendous oblique innovation to the GH sound, featuring some robotic pulsations from drummer Aaron Raulston (a total revelation here btw) and swirling synthesizer furls that wink at the Simon House-penned Hawkwind instrumentals. I was floored when I first 'eared' this track.

Within seconds of "The Fields We Know" opener, the resilient bass guitar steers the arrangement, always a welcome navigator of progressive oceans, Steve Babb has definitely acquired the Chris Squire methodology of tyrannical leadership of the low end. From that point onward, the symphonics are elevated to new heights through a variety of shifts and tones. "Golden Days' is a definite plateau, with some stellar playing by everyone, shading behind ominous timbres and sprightly horizons, guitarist Kamran Alan Shikoh showing off a comfort level that finally achieves maturity. Co-founder Fred Schendel is a master of the keyboards, showing off new found energy on electric piano, strange how that instrument is often a benchmark for musicians looking for that higher plane.

The epic "No Man's Land" is a track I can relate to both musically as well as historically, as I was being carried as a six-month old child across the Iron Curtain , in my father's shielding arms , as gunfire erupted when we were already in the 'killing zone' between Austria (freedom) and communist oppression in Hungary. Musically, all the emotions are surely entwined , woven in a variety of silky passages, from soft and gentle, to sentimental, to actively bellicose, almost King Crimson-ish (this is the newfangled addition in the Glass Hammer style) in the mid- and final sections. Rambling organ reminds us that KC was no keyboard virtuoso's showcase, but the gloom and doom are definitely "Bible Black". This eeriness is most welcome, as its gives the band new impetus while strictly adhering to the subject matter of this opus. The spoken word poetry is forlorn, despondent and imbued with the glacial droplets of fear and death. Easily one of GH's finest tracks, a modern, historic, propulsive and melancholic piece of music.

The title track introduces colossal symphonics in the form of pipe organ blasts, as in some kind of keyboard artillery barrage, elevating another exhausted soldier's voice, pleading from some respite, as if some nebulous mist has permeated the battlefield of sounds. There is a Beatles-like dreamy passage that presents another new facet to the growing GH sound palette.

Top of the class is "Fog of War", a gruesome assault on the prog senses, lavished with bass cannonades that bruise and concuss, an active Raulston drum kit that is used as a missile launcher of deadly and precise beats, tortuous sniper fire keyboard volleys and a fusillade of machine gun guitars that seek out and destroy. Vocalist Susie Bogdanowicz takes a larger part of the stage, fulfilling the wants of the fan base and the needs of the musicians. Steve Babb does sound like the sadly departed Squire but he also possesses a tone reminiscent of Peter Hook of New Order fame, by all accounts both very upfront and in your face bassists, for which we all should remain thankful that the crown is still being worn by the 'hidden ones'.

Follow that up by the blissful epic "Dead and Gone", featuring a glory-draped vocal plaint from Bogdanowicz, spooky organ in tow slowly burning through the soul, the band sounds very much like fellow proggers Magenta, the voice neighbouring Christina Booth's , a vibrant compliment in my mind. The arrangement evolves into something raunchier in the mid-section, a dazzling organ solo at first and then a darker and heavier march into battle. A return to the solemnity of the opening minutes, deeply emotive and serene, displaying a sense of restraint that is again quite new to GH.

The short ballad "Eucatastrophe" is sizzling with ominous drippings, but the classical guitar leadership is given full value with a tearfully poignant Bogdanowicz rendition, gentle orchestrations for company. The second part is Jürgen Fritz-like organ plastering (sounding like vintage Triumvirat), sombre themes and desolate ending. This bleeds (pun) nicely into the stately "Rapturo", a demure nocturne that shows off tremendous sensitivities, symphonically morphing into a mellotron and drum concoction, slow and gentle, imperial and riveting. The sun sets melodically on an inspired performance, sourcing new motivations and innovative tweaks that show a band clearly progressing beyond its alleged limitations, as GH was often cruelly pilloried for being too close to a Yes clone, the Jon Davison episode certainly fueling the fire of unjust gossip. This trivial branding can now be buried in some appropriate military cemetery as GH has found a new level of creativity and a wider panorama of sounds. Really impressive release and harbinger of things to come.

4.5 Valhalla handmaidens

Thanks to ProgLucky for the artist addition. and to Quinino for the last updates

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