Band: Glass Hammer
CD Title: “IF”
Band Website: www.glasshammer.com
Label: Arion Records
Release Date: 2010
After a brief
hiatus releasing a CD of, shall we say more accessible material, Glass Hammer are back with a superb symphonic prog release entitledIF. Not only that but they’ve shuffled up the lineup which adds an additional sonic flavour to their already diverse musical pallet.
Still revolving around the core of Steve Babb (bass, keyboards, backing vocals) and Fred Schendel (keyboards, steel guitar, mandolin,
backing vocals) the band now is made up of Alan Shikoh (guitars), Randall Williams (drums) and Jon Davison (vocals). We’re treated
here to a more Yes flavoured sound on IF, a disc featuring sixty-six minutes of some classic Glass Hammer music.
There are six
tracks on IF and most of them are on the longish side. We’re looking at three of the compositions around the ten-minute mark and then
there’s the epic “If The Sun” clocking in at 24:02. And throughout the disc, the keyboards reign supreme. Shikoh’s jazz-textured guitar
playing is certainly present but it’s there in a very subtle manor and more than a few times hearkens back to a style made popular
by Steve Howe. That particular Yes influence is made even more obvious by Davison’s high-tenor vocals. This is a very different sound
for Glass Hammer. The hooks and melody lines are nicely embedded into these compositions making welcome respites during the course
of all the busy musical change-ups. And make no mistake these are classic symphonic prog pieces that feature all the prerequisite
elements. One of the things I noticed right off the bat after the first listen, is that while there are many times where the music
builds in intensity or power this is not a loud or raucous album. Rather it’s very smooth and tempered. There are no musical outbursts
and the crunchy guitars are left outside the studio. Instead the music on IF is warm and inviting, full of Hammond organ, Mellotron
washes and analog sounding synths.
For those of you familiar with Glass Hammer, IF, while sounding a little different will be
a welcome addition to the library. Count me as a fan, I love this disc and it’s without question one of my favorites of 2010. At the
risk of repeating myself, Glass Hammer continue to outdo themselves and really know how to deliver the goods. Once again, this is
symphonic progressive rock of the highest order and gets my highest recommendation.