Glass Hammer picks up right where they left off on 2010's magnificent If with the equally mesmerizing Cor Cordium. Vocalist Jon Davison and guitarist Alan Shikoh return for their second straight release with founders Steve Babb and Fred Schendel, and judging by the high quality of both If and Cor Cordium, let's hope this version of Glass Hammer can stick it out together for years to come. Randall Williams provides drums on the album, though it doesn't appear he's a regular member of the band at this time.
Cor Cordium could have easily been the unreleased second disc of If, as stylistically it's very similar, with the heavy Yes & ELP influences still at the forefront, though I sense a greater guitar emphasis on this one. Shikoh is a very tasty player, as his searing tone on opener "Nothing Box" complements the wealth of vintage 70's keyboards sounds from Schendel (Moog, Hammond, Mellotron). Davison's lush, Jon Anderson influenced vocals permeate the pastoral gem "One Heart", a catchy piece with lovely vocal harmonies, gorgeous guitar patterns, Babb's sinewy bass lines, and shimmering keyboards. Rich acoustic guitars and organ fill up "Salvation Station", an enjoyable piece that brings to mind Yes, Genesis, Gentle Giant, and Echolyn, that also features wonderful solos on synth, electric piano, and electric guitar.
Three mini-epics take over the back half of the CD, the first being "Dear Daddy", an atmospheric & symphonic track that just soars with emotion, thanks to some gorgeous vocals, layers of lush keyboards, guitars, and guest violin & viola from Jeffrey Sick and Ed Davis. Things take a more bombastic route on the engaging "To Someone", an 18 minute powerhouse of all things classic progressive rock. Want Mellotron? There's plenty to go around here, as well as majestic piano, Hammond, Moog, gymnastic bass lines, tasty guitar licks...you name it, it's here. "She, a Lonely Tower" closes out the album in melodic fashion, this one a more varied affair that weaves back and forth from symphonic prog, to quirky jazz fusion, back to intricate prog, with some hard rock and atmospheric moments thrown in for good measure. Davison really shines on this one, providing no shortage of addicting vocal melodies that any fan of classic Yes will appreciate.
Toss in a splendid CD booklet featuring stellar artwork from Tom Kuhn, and you have a real winner in Cor Cordium. If you love 70's styled progressive rock here in the modern age, there's no better way to experience it than with Glass Hammer. Chalk up another gem from the veteran band from Tennesse, as this one is easily one of the best prog releases of 2011. Magical stuff!
1. Nothing Box 10:54
2. One Heart 6:22
3. Salvation Station 5:10
4. Dear Daddy 10:32
5. To Someone 18:21
6. She, a Lonely Tower 10:59