Glass Hammer did not get off to a good start with their debut album, Journey of the Dunadan; a clichéd, boring, and often pointless release. Their second album, Perelandra, shows Glass Hammer taking a huge leap in the right direction, though still numerous country miles behind some of the band's later masterworks. Gone are many of the pointless interludes and filler of the debut album, and in replacement is solid progressive rock. There's still plenty of "been there, done that" in Glass Hammer's sound, but for what it is, this is a more than satisfying symphonic prog album.
The sound on Perelandra is pretty typical symphonic progressive rock from the early 90's. Expect a very keyboard-laden, lighthearted, yet still very complex wall of sound. I'm often reminded of two bands on this album, these being Yes and ELP. I hear a distinct Yes influence in the generally upbeat mood, and the frequent Hammond organ sections are reminiscent of Keith Emerson. Despite the fact that Glass Hammer does wear their influences proudly on their sleeve, they are by no means a clone band. This isn't the most original thing out there, but it's not completely derivative of the 70's prog giants either. Most of the songs here are pretty good, although the middle of the album does contain a few throwaways. My favorites are "Time Marches On", "Illusion", "The Way to Her Heart", "Into the Night", and "Heaven". The final song is especially fantastic. The lyrics are quite cheesy at times, but it never really affects my listening of the album. I just don't recommend analyzing them.
The musicianship is generally pretty good. The highlight is pretty obviously the keyboards (just listen to any song on the album, and it's very apparent). The guitar playing is very good as well, but the drums especially can become a bit too simple and trivial. They're not bad, but nothing spectacular is ever done. The vocals are great, and the many singers in the band help create some great harmonies.
The production is okay. It's way to light and clear for me, and doesn't leave enough room for power in the sound. The sometimes synthetic-sounding drums can be a pain as well.
Perelandra is a good album by Glass Hammer, but not much more. The band still had some serious flaws back when this album was released, mainly in terms of originality and throwaway tracks. There are still a few breathtaking moments that make this album worth a 3 star rating, though. If you really want to hear Glass Hammer, I highly recommend checking out their later albums. If you are a fan of the band, this is still a good album worth checking out.
(Originally Posted on ProgArchives.com)
1. Now Arriving (2:00)
2. Time Marches On (10:36)
3. Illusion (9:05)
4. The Way to Her Heart (4:43)
5. Felix the Cat (2:31)
6. Now Departing (1:05)
7. Perelandra (8:07)
8. Le Danse Final (5:18)
9. That Hideous Strength (3:54)
10. Enda the Lion (1:02)
11. Into the Night (4:40)
12. Heaven (8:37)