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GLASS HAMMER

Symphonic Prog • United States


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Glass Hammer picture
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)

2.05 | 87 ratings
Journey Of The Dunadan
1993
3.06 | 91 ratings
Perelandra
1995
3.07 | 90 ratings
On To Evermore
1998
3.33 | 159 ratings
Chronometree
2000
2.43 | 81 ratings
The Middle Earth Album
2001
3.76 | 204 ratings
Lex Rex
2002
3.71 | 226 ratings
Shadowlands
2004
3.41 | 208 ratings
The Inconsolable Secret
2005
3.53 | 182 ratings
Culture of Ascent
2007
3.02 | 124 ratings
Three Cheers For The Broken-Hearted
2009
3.88 | 329 ratings
If
2010
2.87 | 55 ratings
One
2010
3.74 | 229 ratings
Cor Cordium
2011
3.82 | 213 ratings
Perilous
2012
3.46 | 169 ratings
Ode To Echo
2014
3.83 | 179 ratings
The Breaking of the World
2015
3.84 | 176 ratings
Valkyrie
2016
3.80 | 134 ratings
Chronomonaut
2018
3.81 | 136 ratings
Dreaming City
2020
4.05 | 75 ratings
Skallagrim: Into the Breach
2021
5.00 | 1 ratings
At The Gate
2022

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

3.14 | 18 ratings
Live and Revived
1997
3.71 | 30 ratings
Live At Nearfest
2004
4.00 | 17 ratings
Double Live
2015
3.80 | 5 ratings
Mostly Live in Italy
2018

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

4.28 | 23 ratings
Lex Live
2004
4.11 | 26 ratings
Live At Belmont
2006
4.24 | 12 ratings
Live at The Tivoli
2008
4.60 | 5 ratings
Double Live
2015

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

3.72 | 18 ratings
The Compilations, 1996 to 2004
2006
3.95 | 20 ratings
The Inconsolable Secret - Deluxe Edition
2013
3.72 | 20 ratings
Untold Tales
2017
4.00 | 3 ratings
A Matter of Time - Volume 1
2020

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

3.80 | 5 ratings
Cool Air
2016

GLASS HAMMER Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Dreaming City by GLASS HAMMER album cover Studio Album, 2020
3.81 | 136 ratings

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Dreaming City
Glass Hammer Symphonic Prog

Review by A Crimson Mellotron
Prog Reviewer

4 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
4.05 | 75 ratings

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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
4.05 | 75 ratings

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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
4.05 | 75 ratings

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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.

(from THE PROGRESSIVE ASPECT)

 Skallagrim: Into the Breach by GLASS HAMMER album cover Studio Album, 2021
4.05 | 75 ratings

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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.
 Skallagrim: Into the Breach by GLASS HAMMER album cover Studio Album, 2021
4.05 | 75 ratings

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Skallagrim: Into the Breach
Glass Hammer Symphonic Prog

Review by badgeradk

5 stars Skallagrim is an unique kind of sound that is atypical of Glass Hammer, at least from most of their work, and it's great! I love all of Glass Hammers albums, especially Lex Rex, but this "adventure" into a harder sound is fabulous. The new primary lead singer Hannah Pryor is a welcomed change from Susie B. , who seemed limited in regards to her vocal range and had become seemingly "boring" over the years (no offense or disrespect intended, since she excelled in earlier times), giving the band a fresh presentation that will most certainly gain attention and result in great reviews. As far of sound influences, I would name Rush as the primary, as well as Uriah Heep, Black Sabbath (yep, at least on one, maybe 2 tracks), Van Halen, Motorpsycho, Kansas, and even a little bit of Alan Parsons. As usual, well done Steve and Fred (along with the rest of the band). So glad to know you both love Christ and continue to exercise your God-given talents resulting in the enjoyment of many others.
 Skallagrim: Into the Breach by GLASS HAMMER album cover Studio Album, 2021
4.05 | 75 ratings

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Skallagrim: Into the Breach
Glass Hammer Symphonic Prog

Review by ProgthankfulRich

5 stars I'm not writing this as a professional or snobbish critic but as a long time GH fan. The first project I heard of them was Lex Rex and I have enjoyed the many facets of the creativity of the Babb and Schendel show.

One of the things that can irritate me about reading reviews, and in particular most of the reviews of GH indicate they sound like something or someone else. Lets address this - apart from the occasional Yes, ELP, Rush, Genesis, etc that come out with a unique sound -- there are relatively few of these "master" artists in each era. We were incredibly blessed (those my age) to have gone through that era of progressive rock from the 60's and 70's. But make no mistake, that kind of music existed, just not in the rock n roll catalog. They all cut their teeth on classical music and transmutated it into rock n roll and it became its own genre. That doesn't happen very often.

I enjoyed the "Yes" era of Glass Hammer more than any Yes album they produced after Tormato (lol yes I actually liked that one). GH had a love for that early Yes sound, had the chops, had the right singer - so why not? I loved, and still love Secret through Perilous.

Does this project have hints/tints of other bands? I'm sure it does, but I for one don't go into a project looking to critique it, and pick it apart for what it sounds like, and examine every verse, chorus and meter for how clever it is. Its just like a new movie - I have probably seen the basic plot a thousand times but I still go to that movie wanting to be entertained. I could ruin (probably 99% of all movies) it for myself and everyone else if I really wanted to.

Let me say, as a fan and music lover of almost all types - I absolutely love this latest project of GH. I got it early and have been listening to it every day since. It has a hard rock edge yet stays melodic; it is dark but whispers hope; it has a story that I am invested in, has a surprise twist to it (at least for the die hard GH fans), and I am very interested in how this tale will unfold in the third installment of the trilogy. I honestly could care less if it sounds like anything else - I am enjoying it as its own work very, very much. With the state of art and culture today - where I cannot bear to listen to more than 30 seconds of what is America's top choices for "music," this band and project is well worth supporting in a small $15 investment.

I think that GH just keeps getting better - and I am very happy they are producing fantastic prog rock for us to enjoy practically every year (14 full length projects in 18 years!). Thank you Steve, Fred, Aaron, and new member Hannah, I appreciate and love Skallgrim!!

PS - what a find with the new vocalist -- WOW.

Peace -

 A Matter of Time - Volume 1 by GLASS HAMMER album cover Boxset/Compilation, 2020
4.00 | 3 ratings

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A Matter of Time - Volume 1
Glass Hammer Symphonic Prog

Review by Steve Conrad

4 stars A Biased, Affectionate, Respectful Review

A Matter of Time

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

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

GLASS HAMMER

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

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

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

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

The Music

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

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

Reworking

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

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

To Sum It Up

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

 Lex Rex by GLASS HAMMER album cover Studio Album, 2002
3.76 | 204 ratings

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Lex Rex
Glass Hammer Symphonic Prog

Review by A Crimson Mellotron
Prog Reviewer

3 stars I tend to gravitate towards albums with better album art, it is usually a sign that the music is going to be as excellent as the painting or the image that one sees on the front, and this is quite easy to justify, as the first impression is a very strong force in the realm of the human nature. So, I thought, judging the book by its cover, that I am in for a tremendous ride of musical grandeur? the cover in question is, of course, the surrealistic and soft-colored painting that is the album art for 'Lex Rex', the sixth studio album by American progressive and symphonic rock band Glass Hammer; one of the consistent contemporary 'retro prog' acts (definitely this definition applies perfectly to GH, whether you consider the positive or the negative connotations that come along with it). 'Lex Rex' is not a severe disappointment but a gentle let-down, as the music does not match exactly the lovely front image.

Explosive musical passages and eargasmic mellotron-infested instrumental sections dominate the album. This record is made as a sort of a play or a spectacle for the ears, with its properly placed introduction ('Good Evening), intermission and finale ('Goodnight'). And the music is indeed quite cinematic, often adventurous, yet sometimes tedious and repetitive. The strong 70s symphonic progressive rock influence hits the listener from the very beginning of Glass Hammer's 65-minute show; And here comes the first problem: this album could be considered as a decent example of why people look down upon this genre of music and why some others have coined the term 'regressive rock', despite the acrobatic and playful, often adventurous playing of the musicians.

Longer songs, of course, dominate the tracklist, with just one instrumental (and given the fact how mind-blowing most of the instrumental sections are, it is a pity that they did not focus on this kind of compositions more). And this is where I can present the second problem with this record - the particularly unimpressive vocals. Is it the fact that there are seven people that have vocal duties on 'Lex Rex' or the fact that none of them has a really strong, memorable and exceptional voice? I do not know, but the vocals on this album do not work in my book.

With this being said, I must praise the big hero of the album - Steve Babb, the man who is responsible for the bass and keyboards, the two best characters of 'Lex Rex'. Menacing and throbbing bass, intertwined with brain-melting Mellotron ignitions and Hammond organ fiestas, these could be the reasons for which I would return to this record. And I can't help but think that if this band focused on creating more, if not entirely, instrumental albums, they could have reached an Anglagard-kind of level of status in the prog landscape.

All in all, 'Lex Rex' is a good album that suffers from the boring vocals and the moments of directionless playing (or overplaying) of what seems to be excessive notes. Steve Babb, on the other hand, saves the day, making this an enjoyable ear candy for the bass and keyboards-seeking listener. The tracks under the spotlight are surely 'Tales of the Great Wars', 'Further Up and Further In', 'Music for Your Hands' and 'Centurion'.

 Lex Rex by GLASS HAMMER album cover Studio Album, 2002
3.76 | 204 ratings

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Lex Rex
Glass Hammer Symphonic Prog

Review by BlazingProg

5 stars Glass Hammer is one of the best modern prog bands. I first listened to this album back in 2018 and I have loved it ever since. I consider this album to be one of the best albums released in the last 20 years! The keyboards are fantastic on every track. Every musician on this album plays great and plays with perfection. The artwork for this album is also spectacular, I think this is one of the best album covers ever made. I would highly recommend this album to everyone. Especially if you like 70's prog with a Yes sound. You won't be disappointed.
Thanks to ProgLucky for the artist addition. and to Quinino for the last updates

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