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Glass Hammer - If CD (album) cover


Glass Hammer


Symphonic Prog

3.89 | 304 ratings

From, the ultimate progressive rock music website

5 stars Recently there was a ProgArchives forum discussion on what makes a "masterpiece". It's a surprisingly hard word to define. Rightly disregarding all of the blindly relativistic "because I really like it, it's a masterpiece" offerings, several pieces of definition arose to the top. And I submit to you that Glass Hammer's "If" fits all those pieces -- well, except one...

Composition (including lyric, song structure, musicality, orchestration, etc.): On "If", there are six tracks, ranging from 4-1/2 to 24 minutes long. Within those we have all the marks a lover of symphonic prog craves: twisting diversities of tempos and textures, timely in-your-face instrumental solos, moments of delicate sublimity to moments of garish crescendo (and everything in between), all intertwined with lyrics to engage and inspire. It's all here, the structure of 'masterpiece'.

Musicianship: The instrument that jumps out most on "If" is Jon Davison's vocals. No one familiar with Jon Anderson of Yes would miss the likeness. Reading through previous reviews, this will disgust some listeners, and delight others. I say-- Let it delight you! There are some wonderful Anderson clones out there (including Benoit David in the latest Yes live line-up). One thing we should glean from these ethereal symphonic rock vocalists is that "The Voice" is not owned by any one individual, but is a gift (though rare) dispersed here and there throughout vocaldom. Mr. Davison is surely a sharer in that gift, and his sometimes serene, sometimes soaring intonations resonate with those of us attuned to that gift. Besides the vocals, there are wonderful moments of synthesizer and keys, rhythm and lead guitar work, and bass/drum underpinnings that leave one fully satisfied. It's all here, the structure of a 'masterpiece'.

Freshness/Originality: OK, I understand how some will hear and cry, "Derivative!" But methinks they are being hard-of-hearing (I'd have used 'myopic', but that would be sort of mixing metaphors). I submit that these six songs are songs Yes, Genesis, or any other symph-prog band could never have achieved. I challenge the naysayers to listen past the Anderson-esque vocals. By the time I reached my third listen, I was discovering depths and intrigues in the songs that are simply astounding. This is no one-listen, nor even 20-listen, album. It is crammed with creativity, worthy of our repeated hearings. It's all here, the structure of 'masterpiece'.

Emotionally Engagement: I think one of the most important aspects of a masterpiece is whether it evokes emotion or not. I am no fan of Munch's painting "The Scream", but I will tip my hat to it as one that it makes me feel. So with "If". With it's music, I soar, I ponder, I become hopeful, I become curious -- I am engaged. It's all here, the structure of 'masterpiece'.

Longevity: Here's the one tenet of 'masterpiece' that is yet lacking, but time will tell. I have a feeling "If" will takes it's place besides my copy of "Close to the Edge" (can I get it on vinyl? oh please! oh please!), and be played as often as the years roll by. One more for the pantheon of symphonic prog greats. It's all here, the structure of 'masterpiece'.

EnderEd | 5/5 |


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