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Glass Hammer: The Inconsolable Secret

One quick look at the gorgeous Roger Dean designed packaging on The Inconsolable Secret, the latest epic recording from Glass Hammer, and you know you will be in for a whale of a ride down 70's styled progressive rock avenue. This time around, the band has put together a 2CD concept piece, part one which adornes the first disc is titled "The Knight" and the second part which concludes on disc two is "The Lady". Featuring loads of vintage keyboard sounds played by Fred Schendel and Steve Babb, like Moog, Mellotron, Hammond and pipe organ, and piano, there are also plenty of bombastic bass & bass pedals, ripping electric and pedal steel guitar work, nimble drums, plus a host of lead & backing vocals, as well as the Inconsolable Symphony and Choir who help out as well. All of this makes for a symphonic and majestic 98 minutes of classic progressive rock as only Glass Hammer can deliver.

The story is about a King and his loyal knights, set in medieval times. The King longs to have an heir, preferably a daughter, yet one of his minions (let's call him the Evil Knight) who is filled with jealousy and envy, wants to inherit the kingdom himself, and plots against the King and his plans to find a princess. It's a story of battles, revenge, jealousy, rage, envy, beauty, love, and happines, and music supports the story quite well. Vocally, the band does a great job portraying this epic tale, as there's plenty of melodic and powerful male vocals from Babb,Schendel, and Walter Moore, plus female vocals from Susie Bogdanowicz, Sarah Snyder, Bathany Warren, Flo Paris, and a few others including the Choir. Highlights, well, there are many, but the great thing is the two CD's have somewhat different flavors from each other. The first being a grand symphonic affair, with the two tracks, "A Maker of Crowns" and "The Knight of the North", both 15+ minute epics of complex prog rock packed with soaring keyboards and biting electric guitar work courtesy of Schendel, as Moore only contributes vocals here. The second disc, while still containing some ripping instrumental work, is more vocal oriented, and really helps tell and finish the story. Here, the vocals of the women really shine, and Schendel's lush keyboard work, especially on the Mellotron & piano, really stand out. Kudos also to drummer Matt Mendians, who really does a fine job, showing restraint when needed and bashing away during the more symphonic parts.

Surely The Inconsolable Secret is one of the Best Prog releases of 2005, and its grand scope and vintage sounds will carry it over into the hearts of genre fans for years to come. They now have had three absolute classics in a row with Lex Rex, Shadowlands, and now this one. It's well presented, well played, and just an overall classy product put together by a band that is further cementing their lofty status in the annals of American progressive rock. Highly recommended!

Track Listing
Disc One-The Knights
1. A Maker Of Crowns (15:21)
2. The Knight Of The North (24:39)

Disc Two-The Lady
1. Long And Long Ago (10:23)
2. The Morning She Woke (5:36)
3. Lirazel (4:30)
4. The High Place (3:33)
5. Morrigan's Song (2:23)
6. Walking Toward Doom (2:06)
7. Mog Ruith (2:03)
8. Through A Glass Darkly (6:55)
9. The Lady Waits (5:46)
10. The Mirror Cracks (2:12)
11. Having Caught A Glimpse (13:23)
Total Time: 98:26

Added: July 7th 2005
Reviewer: Pete Pardo
Related Link: Glass Hammer Website
Hits: 8902
Language: english

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Glass Hammer: The Inconsolable Secret
Posted by Brian Nielsen on 2005-07-13 09:37:10
My Score:

Glass Hammer's latest offering, The Inconsolable Secret, is a 2-CD Progressive Rock album that eclipses their previous concept album masterpiece Lex Rex in nearly every aspect.

Musically, the sound of both Lex Rex and Shadowlands are represented and built upon exponentially, and the addition of Matt Mendians (Live at Nearfest and Lex Live) as GH's studio drummer will simply shut up the long time grumblings of fans and reviewers alike. The band experiments with styles never heard before on pervious albums, and the wide range of sound benefits the overall feel of both discs and highlights Babb and Schendel's growing maturity in songwriting that comes with their eighth major release. The production work is crisp and pristine, with a balanced sound. No instrument is ever too loud for need of overpowering the others, and having heard the album on a variety of systems, it seems to play well without much tweaking.

Lyrically the album centers around a 60+ page epic poem by Steve Babb entitled "The Lay of Lirazel" which in its own right is an incredible work, and is included with other goodies on the digipack-enhanced first CD.

Disc One, entitled "The Knight" contains two songs that are very much done in the fantastic "stripped down" sound of lush vocal harmonies, organ, mellotron, synth, bass, and guitar that made Glass Hammer famous. It opens with 'A Maker of Crowns' a powerful song that has a piano, organ, and a synth riff running throughout that harkens back to Camel's work. The 25+ minute epic 'The Knight of The North' has many sections and moods that work together as a whole- you never realize that you listened to near a half-hour of one song. At 7:50 into this track, there is a blaze of inspired synth and Hammond work, but there are simply too many highlights to mention; the piece closes strongly with warm choir and orchestra.

Disc Two, or "The Lady," is a cohesive set of songs that tell a story just as Lex Rex had, book ended by two tracks over 10 minutes in length. The beautiful female vocals get to take center stage multiple times, showing the incredible talents of both old and new girls. 'Lirazel' remains a favorite of mine; although I wish it was longer! Many of the instrumental and symphonic pieces in the middle of CD two evoke a very "movie score" feel to them- you are taken along for the ride, like something out of The Lord of The Rings. 'Mog Ruith' is an explosion of drums and keyboards fit for a battle scene. The soft ballad 'Through a Glass Darkly' evokes emotions that run deep, and fits nicely within the set. 'Having Caught a Glimpse' has soaring vocals and melody, and culminates in an incredible way, bringing themes and cues from other songs on the album to bring disc two to a close, which sent shivers through my whole body.

All this incredible orchestration, especially at the end of 'Having Caught a Glimpse' almost worries the keyboard fan in me slightly. Fans need to make sure GH never forgets the sound that Lex Rex and Chronometree made famous.

That small reservation aside, which in no way detracts from this work as a whole, this is a must buy for any fan of Yes, Kansas, Echolyn, or keyboard-driven symphonic prog as a whole. Special mention must be made of the wonderful cover art and new logo created by famed artist Roger Dean.

One wonders how they might top this album, for Glass Hammer once again has taken a myriad of musical influences and made it completely their own: 5/5.

2004 Sea Of Tranquility
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