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Glass Hammer - One CD (album) cover


Glass Hammer


Symphonic Prog

2.94 | 48 ratings

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Rock Progressivo Italiano Team
3 stars Although not technically their debut album, the recent release of `One' features early recordings of core Glass Hammer members Steve Babb and Fred Schendel from before their first album `Journey Of The Dunadan'. For a band that's known for being greatly influenced by the symphonic progressive acts of the 70's, this album is strangely electronic based, more in the mold of Tangerine Dream era 1977-1984, yet it still has plenty to associate it with the lush and grand medieval and fanciful prog they would later become known for. It makes sense to review this album first, to see where they were headed at the very beginning.

Opener `Ex Oblivione' is full of booming church organ, neo prog synth solos, and all the classical overtones and the medieval romantic themes that Glass Hammer are known for. `Hypnos' is a drifting electronic soundscape with gentle percussion, like the more accessible `Force Majeure'-era and beyond Tangerine Dream material. ` The Fortress Unvanquished' has playful Yes/Wakeman- like whimsical synth runs, while `The Glittering Gate' sounds like a T.Dream `Thief' soundtrack outtake. `A Glimpse From The Watchtower' has a sad and downbeat keyboard melody that is surprisingly moving, and `Chased By Things' is a nasty spasmodic sinister attack but borders on outright plagiarism of Steve Hackett's `A Tower Struck Down'! `The Whisperer In The Dark' has a creeping electronic malevolence, rescued by the majestic prettiness of `The Book Of Wonder'. Not surprisingly, `A Lurking Fear' is full of eerie tension, which leads into the murky `Dreams In The Witch House', full of unnerving throaty chanting and droning ambience. New-age piece `Beyond The Fields We Know' has glistening synths dancing amongst an aquatic backdrop, which carries on into urgent electric guitar driven `Beyond The Wall Of Sleep'. `A Night At The Inn' is a brief regal sounding madrigal piece before the albums ends on the mysterious but hopeful `To Journey Onward'.

Although highly embryonic, this compilation stands as a successful work on it's own, even if some of it sounds unlike anything else the band would release. Like those early Ozric Tentacles cassette releases, everything is in the right place, and there's enough moments that show the potential and skill that the band would later use on their more established albums. It certainly doesn't sound like a bunch of fragmented scraps or demos, rather the whole album has a darkly classical and dramatic flow that is highly effective. Considering Glass Hammer have had a history of many different vocalists, it's also interesting to hear them work in a totally instrumental format. Some listeners who enjoy progressive albums free of vocals may actually prefer this album!

Listening to `One', it's fascinating to see what sort of progressive band Glass Hammer could have become. Who knows, perhaps Steve and Fred may one day revisit some of the electronic elements from this album and reincorporate them into the current version of the band?

Aussie-Byrd-Brother | 3/5 |


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