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Glass Hammer - The Inconsolable Secret CD (album) cover

THE INCONSOLABLE SECRET

Glass Hammer

 

Symphonic Prog

3.40 | 194 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

wbiphoto
2 stars To cut to the chase early in the review I will say that this album was a HUGE dissapointment.

This is my first and only Glass Hammer CD, so I can't speak of their other releases(which may be better). But from this one I can clearly see why many have said that the band thrives on mimicking the works of classic symphonic proggers; namely, Yes and ELP.

Trailblazers, GH are certainly not. In fact, there are some Hammond B3 passages that make me cringe because they flat-out plagarize some of Emerson's lines and style. I completely understand that it's difficult to be 100% original in this day and age with so many great artists behind us and in our midst. However, there must be some attempt at adding SOME originality, otherwise, the band should just consider being a cover act for the other artists!

I can't overstate my dissapointment enough, so I'll stay on my soap box a bit longer.

The first CD consists of two long pieces: A Maker Of Crowns (15:21) and The Knight Of The North (24:39).

The most difficult aspect of these two pieces are the vocals. They are about as bad as anything I've heard in recent memory. There is no LIFE, no spirit, no drama in Walter Moore's voice. It literally sounds like he's reading the lyrics off some sheet for the first time.

The second most disappointing aspect of these pieces are the lyrics. Way too many words that are completely superficial and overly contrived. It's not that I dislike fantasy or sci-fi inspired lyrics, since Neil Pert is one of my favorite lyricists, but these GH lyrics are absolutely ridiculous. Maybe, and I'm being lenient, if they had a better vocalist the words would be more transpartent and tolerable. But that's just a wild guess.

My third beef with the firs CD is the drumming. The guy is all over the place. Is he trying to play jazz? Is he trying to be Bruford on Close To The Edge? What's he doing? He is SO BUSY that he dominates most of the first track leaving very little room for anyone else to add anything significant to the mix. I can see why Walter Moore sounds like he's reading. He's probably trying to find a groove of some sort to sing to, but none exists. So, he just throws words in wherever he sees fit.

That is not to say that the drummer is not talented; he is VERY talented. The problem is with the compositions and arrangement of the music. Whomever is driving this GH ship needs to sit back and listen closely to the mix and realize that it doesn't groove. There's NO EMOTION in the music. It doesn't breathe, it has NO LIFE! In fact, LIFELESS MUSIC is probably the best description of the first CD.

Fred Schendel is a fine keyboardist, without a doubt. He has chops. But, he needs to stop playing it safe and start taking some chances. To rely on worn out lines over and over and over again gets old; very old. And where is his keyboard arsenal? They guy(according to their web site) has a keyboard museum to work with. Why doesn't he use it and use it well? Instead, he relies on the B3 for most of his lines with some minimal synths thrown in for sugar coating. Dissapointing.

If there's a bright spot on this CD is Steve Babb. The guy can play the bass. He's got the Chris Squire thing mastered and adds a lot of his own flavor to the music. I think there's hope for GH.

As for the second CD; it's OK. I like it more than the first, but it's not very strong. Susie Bogdanowicz has a weak voice and the music is too large for her range. It sounds like a child singing with a bombastic symphony. A better fit for the concept of the second CD would have been Lana Lane; or a similar larger voice.

I can go on, but I won't. I try very hard to not review CD's which I think I'm going to bash. I respect the hard work that musicians put into their craft and don't want to ridicule or minimize their efforts. However, in the case of GH I think that they have the talent base to do MUCH better than what they have produced on this release. Granted, I haven't heard any other CDs, but this one has turned me off so heavily that I may never listen to another GH recording after this one.

When I learned about GH I was hopeful that I'd found an American band doing some serious progressive symphonic prog. A band creating some original material and moving the genre forward. But I didn't find that in Glass Hammer; certainly not on this CD.

I don't think I can listen to either CD straight through, ever again. I can only give it TWO STARS and that's a stretch.

wbiphoto | 2/5 |

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