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Glass Hammer: The Breaking of the World

Soaring vocal harmonies, vintage '70s styled keyboards, tasty guitar work, rumbling rhythms, and epic arrangements...if it sounds like the formula of veteran Tennessee prog act Glass Hammer you have just won todays bonus prize. Now 23 years into their career, the band have amassed a dazzling collection of world class progressive rock releases that have kept their growing fanbase continually coming back for more. Their lead singer of the past few albums, Jon Davison, was recently recruited as the full-time vocalist for the legendary Yes, so in his place here for their new album The Breaking of the World steps Carl Groves, himself a veteran of the prog scene with many years spent fronting Salem Hill. Joining Groves is longtime Glass Hammer vocalist Susie Bogdanowicz, who lends her angelic delivery to create an enjoyable & rich vocal display for this new platter of melodic & symphonic prog rock.

Of course, the heart & soul of Glass Hammer remains Fred Schendel (keyboards, vocals) and Steve Babb (bass, keyboards, vocals), with Kamran Alan Shikoh (guitars), and Aaron Raulston (drums) filling out the line-up. While the bands music has always been compared to vintage Yes, now that Davison has joined the mighty prog legends and Groves has stepped into the lead vocalist slot, the overall sound is less 'Yes-like', at least from a vocal standpoint, but no less impressive. Sure, there are still plenty of those majestic keyboard flourishes, complex passages, muscular bass & melodic guitar lines, but with Groves' softer and less high pitched vocal style, the results are more, shall we say, Glass Hammer! Opening tune "Mythopoeia" kicks things off in upbeat, quirky fashion, with synths & Mellotron leading the charge over gymnastic arrangements, while the 11-minute "Third Floor" contains some sumptuous keyboards and layers of intricate guitar, bass, and drum patterns. The multi-textured vocal attack of the band works out fantastic on this one, Groves, Bogdanowicz, and Schendel playing off each other so well, and there are some guitar & keyboard lines here that recall vintage Genesis, as the band alternate between pastoral and bombast.

"Babylon" features some guest flute from Steve Unruh, who darts in and out of Mellotron waves, acrobatic bass, and sneaky guitar lines. At nearly 8-minutes long, this is another mini-epic in the first half of the album (no, these guys don't often write short songs!) and again engages the listener from start to finish, the flute adding a nice folky, almost Jethro Tull flavor to the song. After a brief but furious instrumental called "A Bird When it Sneezes", the gorgeous "Sand" begins, complete with grandiose piano from Schendel and soothing vocals. At 5:46 it's the shortest song on the album save for the instrumental piece. "Bandwagon" throws some Gentle Giant inspired musical interplay at the listener, including some nimble violin melodies courtesy of Unruh, and "Haunted" features a guest lead vocal from Michele Lynn, who soars over lush, brooding arrangements, including some alluring Mellotron. Babb's bass work here is rock solid, prominent in the mix and just a joy to listen to. He's also quite engaging on the upbeat "North Wind", a raging prog opus that delivers all the customary vintage styled sounds & textures we've come to expect from Glass Hammer. Closing things out is "Nothing, Everything", another prog gem driven by tasty Hammond organ, bubbling bass, tricky drumming, and weaving guitar lines. Imagine a midnight session between Yes, ELP, and Gentle Giant and you have a good idea of the musical excitement going on here. Throw in those lush vocal harmonies and you have another sparkling song on this very enjoyable album.

If you've been following us here at SoT for many years, you know we've raved about Glass Hammer albums in the past, and it's continuing with The Breaking of the World. This band just hits one winner after another, regardless of the line-up, and for 20+ years have been one of the most consistent prog acts on the planet. Another job well done guys!

See more about this release on our recent YouTube show!


Track Listing
1) Mythopoeia
2) Third Floor
3) Babylon
4) A Bird When it Sneezes
5) Sand
6) Bandwagon
7) Haunted
8) North Wind
9) Nothing, Everything

Added: May 27th 2015
Reviewer: Pete Pardo
Score:
Related Link: Band Website
Hits: 2651
Language: english

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