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Glass Hammer - Valkyrie CD (album) cover


Glass Hammer


Symphonic Prog

3.87 | 153 ratings

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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.

csglinux | 2/5 |


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