Band: Glass Hammer
Band Website: www.glasshammer.com
Label: Arion Records
Release Date: 2014
In some respects Glass Hammer is quite a chameleon like band. Over the years since their formation back in the early nineties, these guys (and gals) have shaped and reshaped their core line-up and sound. So much so that, that very shifting of sound has actually become their signature sound. Sounding a little like Yes at times and a little like ELP at others the end result is a whole bunch of Glass Hammer. After three discs with a more or less steady line-up, the band has shaken things up a bit. Performing this time are: Fred Schendel (keyboards, guitars and backing vocals), Steve Babb (bass guitar, keyboards and backing vocals), Kamran Alan Shikoh (electric, classical and acoustic guitars), Aaron Raulston (drums), Carl Groves (lead vocals), Jon Davison (lead and backing vocals) and Susie Bogdanowicz (lead and backing vocals). The band is joined on specific tracks by Walter Moore (vocals), Michelle Young (vocals), Randy Jackson (guitar), Rob Reed (piano and Moog solo) and David Ragsdale (violin). So in many respects a return home for some previous members, slipping into the band’s current lineup giving us an overall symphonic prog that does hearken back somewhat to earlier days. And I mean that in a very good way.
Ode to Echo is the band’s 15th studio release and features eight tracks that are vintageGlass Hammer symphonic progressive rock. Starting off with syncopated, staccato notes “Garden of Hedon” [7:00] quickly resolves into a melodic, slightly Yes inspired opening section which then turns on itself with angular accents before resorting to the main theme once again. These back and forth, call and response elements continue the length of the song. Sprinkled throughout each of these compositions are grand, symphonic flourishes, each sounding slightly different in terms of overall texture. From an arrangement standpoint the music of Glass Hammer has become increasingly complex, mixing multiple layers of sound with various musical motifs. I was excited to see them doing a cover of the psychedelic Monkees’ tune “Porpoise Song” [3:40] from their movie Head. Not something I ever thought I’d see and yet their faithful rendition fits quite nicely in this set. The lushly melodic “Misantrog” [10:03] is also a clear winner with it’s grand symphonic flourishes and constant guitar and keyboard interplay.
Following up on their previous release, Perilous was going to be a tough act, but Glass Hammer have done it with Ode to Echo. Going back to some older sounds goes a long way to actually taking their music to yet another level. As always the work of Glass Hammer is highly recommended for fans of symphonic prog.