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Glass Hammer - If CD (album) cover


Glass Hammer


Symphonic Prog

3.89 | 304 ratings

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Symphonic Team
4 stars Glass Hammer's "If" is more far removed from their previous albums than anything they had approached since their conception. The addition of Jon Anderson? I mean Jon Davison (the resemblance in vocal style is unmistakeable) is an inspired move. The influences of Yes are too obvious to labour on but it is still wonderful music, and at least Davison can sing. I missed Susie Bogdanowicz though, but it is great that the keyboard wizardry of Fred Schendel remains, the one constant of the band that has a revolving door membership as compelling as King Crimson's morphing lineups and indeed the revolving policy of Hawkwind.

It begins with glorious Mellotron, Hammond and ambient atmosphere on 'Beyond, Within' (11:44) and Davison certainly sings beautifully in his high register. It is little wonder he joined Yes in 2012 on their tour, of which I was privileged to see in Melbourne. I like his vocals so I had no problem with his voice on any of these tracks. The lyrics have the searching for God symbolism, "And who does dwell within me, And who does my song call out to, Who looks into my dreaming and makes my visions whole, In infinite creation, So many small infinities, Each singing out their own song, Each one a soul to rise up and take flight".

'Behold The Ziddle' is similar in style with lots of tempo shifts, keyboard dominations and Davison crooning sweetly. The lyrics are poetic with darker meanings, "Through a wintry scene I flee, A murky hollow looms ahead of me, Down I slip and tumble, Torn and bruised I lay humble, Am I lost forevermore in this dark world, Now I only walk the lonely way, Where all is sadness, How dearly I'd love to pray, Yet all is madness".

'Grace The Sky' is a very smooth tranquil track, Davison again peaceful and relaxed, the keys and tempos remaining subdued and organic. The lyrics are as usual replete with Christian symbology, "In sleepwalking society, A youth questions his role to be a pillar, puppet a parasite, Get your head on right, As your heart takes flight, If the bird is free to fly, Then why my soul should I deny, If the bird is free to fly, Then why the wings of my soul should I deny, Oh bird of paradise, Let your colors grace the skies and with courage on your wing rejoice freedom's blessing."

'At Last We Are' is replete with synth, medieval sounding guitars and a steady tempo. Davison sings, "Sing to me a star, Set it in yonder sky, Shining, and guiding me, For I've lost my way before, There in the mist on eastern hill, For I would climb to the sun and then beyond to hear what you might sing, Such was the power of your voice, Oh, that I might hear more." Then it moves to a new time sig and finally ends on a bright tempo and Anderson flawless on passionate vocals, with an even higher vocal, almost sounding like the 5 octave vocals of Annie Haslam.

'If The Stars' is a lengthy piece at 10:25, that opens with a steady percussion, chimes, and grand swirling synths. It builds steadily and features scintillating lead guitars, soft vocals and meandering Mellotron. The lyrics have intriguing imagery based on the Bible; Phillip or James, "If the stars should then appear, One night in a thousand years, How would man believe and adore, If the light of the city of God was shown there, Would they believe?, If the stars should then appear, One night in a thousand years."

'If The Sun' is a mammoth epic clocking 24 minutes, in the traditional prog epic length. Since I only have the version without this I can't comment. However, this is one of the greater Glass Hammer albums with some of their best vocals. The lyrics, the musicianship and the overall atmosphere are symphonic prog bliss.

AtomicCrimsonRush | 4/5 |


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