According to a post on http://glasshammer.com/
Glass Hammer has been teasing a Part Two of their 2000 release “Chronometree” for several weeks and it is now finally official. The tongue-in-cheek concept album “Chronometree” told the story of Tom, a prog-rock obsessed teenager in the late seventies who heard alien voices communicating to him through his favorite albums. Tom has since grown up and is apparently none-the-wiser. “Chronomonaut” will tell the story of his recent mid-life crises. Bassist and songwriter Steve Babb explains “Apparently, the voices have returned and have been urging Tom to time-travel back to the glory days of the early prog scene.”
“Chronomonaut” will be released on Friday, October 12th. Pre-ordering for autographed copies will begin one month ahead of the release on September 12th at the band’s website.
This is the band’s follow up to Valkyrie released in 2016, and the band’s 17th studio release since 1993. “Chronomonaut” will feature guest appearances include Discipline’s Matthew Parmenter and Chris Herin.”
Glass Hammer is perhaps one of the most consistent progressive rock bands over the last 50 years. With nearly 17 albums since 1993, Glass Hammer has managed to maintain their cult like status while adding new members to their fan base. Glass Hammer were formed by Steve Babb and Fred Schendel and have grown since then. Many of Glass Hammer’s albums are conceptual pieces rooted and inspired by the writings of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings, or the works of C.S Lewis. Glass Hammer’s concepts are meant to be listened to in one sitting for the desired effect that band intends on accomplishing with the listener. This is very evident with their new 2016 offering Glass Hammer Valkyrie.
Glass Hammer’s Valkyrie is rooted within the latter 1960’s to 1970’s style of progressive rock notable influences being ELP,Yes, Genesis, Amon Dull ii and Renaissance. With the exit of Carl Groves on vocals and Susie Bogdanowicz stepping up to the forefront, Glass Hammer now joins the ranks of their contemporaries such as Joann Hogg IONA, Christina BoothMagenta, Olivia Spamenn Mostly Autumn and even a twist of Candice Night with Blackmore’s Nightand Liselotte Hegt of DIAL. And join company with legends as Annie Halsam of Renaissance and Renata Knaupf of Amon Dull ii.
Glass Hammer’s Valkyrie according to their press release, tells the story of a soldier trapped in an endless war, and of the girl he left behind. As with most GH albums, deeper meanings abound for those who take the time to digest the lyrics which are, according to the liner notes, “dedicated to those who battle the effects of trauma, and to those who love and support them.” It is a very compelling story that requires the listener to set aside just over one hour of their time to get immersed in the journey of Valkyrie. Musically the band takes a very vintage and traditional progressive rock approach with heavy Hammond organ style synths, beautiful straight away rhythm sections with gentle lead vocals now done by Susie Bogdanowicz that are supported and sung with great conviction.
If you decide to follow the story through the CD booklet you will find Susie Bogdanowicz, Steve Babb and Fred Schendel uniquely and subtly interchange the vocals from narrator to character in the story and still maintain a harmonious balance with interchanging between the lead and backing vocals.It is a love story between a very spiritually damaged war veteran and the woman at home waiting to love him again. Valkyrie certainly solidifies this with great accuracy and timing. Meanwhile Fred Schendel – Keyboards/Guitars & Backing Vocals, Steve Babb – Bass Guitar/Keyboards & BackingVocals , Kamran Alan Shikoh – Electric, Acoustic & Classical Guitars/Electric Sitar , Aaron Raulston – Drums all execute great instrumental chord progressions instrumentally and alongside the vocal narratives in balanced harmony.
There are some highlights from every track I would want to explore at this time.
The Fields We Know sees us introduced to the loving couple of the war soldier and his sweetheart waiting back home for him to return. This opens with very traditional progressive rock elements with Hammond style synths meeting a tight layered lush rhythm bass/drum section. The big rhythm section reminds me of the heavily bass induced classic by Yes called Roundabout.Steve Babb reminds me a lot of the late Chris Squire with his spot on timing. The female vocal of Susie enters in in a very angelic ethereal delivery. This is the start of this love story and with great consideration the band delivers the emotional and spiritual narrative instrumentally. The keyboards provide for appropriate breaks so the song can be digested within the concept.
Golden Days begins with a total percussive clinic with the drum work Aaron Raulston. Soon the female vocal of Susie takes this track to the depths of the soul of the listener. Not only is she on time but she has such a grace behind her voice in both the female narrator and female lover waiting for her soldier. At times the entire band who is playing most of the instrumental portions live in studio take this to a more progressive hard rock edge much like King Crimson or ELP. The keyboards are a constant flow of layers upon layers that help the other instruments transition from passage to passage easier. At times the female vocal takes on beautiful chant like effects.
No Man’s Land begins in a very haunting style between the keyboards and synth guitars. Soon the drums enter in but more as a percussion instrument. The whole instrumental narrative gives the listener the total illusion of something building , something coming. The percussion continues to add layers and flavors with the chimes meanwhile the semi acoustic guitars are right in harmony with the percussive portion. This track is almost like a film track or film score with the band transcribing foely style effects on to actual instruments. Susie’s vocals are like none before her or currently out there. She certainly has her own unique register and signature where you know it is her when she is singing. The same goes for Steve Babb and the rest of the band instrumentally. Lyrically the soldier is thinking heavily about the woman at home who he loves. At the 7:15 mark the track really takes on some progressive hard rock passages. You can tell the band are playing live in the studio and there is not much overdubbing going on. It is organic that requires talent and Glass Hammer have that. Towards the 9:50 mark the song takes a darker sound both instrumentally and vocally. This perhaps to show the result of the soldier’s experience. A great underlying spoken word line gives this a distinct sound.
Nexus Girl is the only instrumental on Valkyrie. This starts out very heavily with a electronica sense in the vein of Kraftwerk. The minimalist approach of less is more really dominates the landscape of this track quite nicely. This track builds layer upon layer in real time as the band really had a live in studio approach on this album.
Valkyrie this is both a tender story of the woman who loves and misses her soldier. Her emotional nuances to comfort and protect her soldier is some of the most compelling and breathtaking story lyrically. The soldier likewise yearns for her embrace. The band really does a great job emulating this melodic love letter back and forth. The Hammond synth is very vintage yet modern sounding. By this point the band should have the full attention of the objective listener of traditional progressive rock both new and old.
Fog of War begins with such density and intensity with a heavy thunderous rhythm section. The bass/drum rhythm section relentless. The guitar comes in like a fuzzy distorted progressive space rock chord progression to probably give the listener the effect of a fog around the soldier. This comes about the time his woman back home is starting to observe a change in both behaviour and mood as a result of the war. The rhythm section is really tight about this time. The band also has more complex time signatures and changes in this one. It is is really loaded with these signature changes throughout the duration of Fog Of War. The emotion and concern in the woman is so powerful both lyrically and instrumentally.
Dead And Gone begins with a beautiful piano that doubles both as a piano and violin. The woman character has great concern for her soldier. At some point she develops a reservation about him bringing home the wounds of war where she may not recognise him. This is the true ballad of Valkyrie. About this time it seems that there are melodic letter exchanges between the two. The bass plays very well off the lead of the Hammond style synth on this one. There are typical questions of life through this one.
Eucatastrophe means happy ending. The track starts as a ballad type track . The woman is ready to be united together with her soldier and begin to build a life with him. She is ready to help him with the wounds and scars of war. Soon the track takes on a very heavy disposition with hard rock guitars that accompany big bass/drum rhythm sections. Glass Hammer display that they can be a little aggressive when the situation is right to be.
Rapturo the final track on Valkyrie ends the album with what I would call a part love letter part prayer for both the soldier and his sweetheart. It is a very haunting song with deeper piano passages that are almost in the style of Mozart or Bachplaying in a live acoustic hall. The vocals seem to take on a very heavy ambient atmosphere. Sometimes a little psychedelic however the band remains on point. The band through the filter of the female character seem to make the case that no matter how much baggage or wounds a person incurs during a lifetime there is still hope, faith and love.
This is a true love story for the ages set to melody. Glass Hammer have managed to make a motion picture film and show it on the screen within the theater of the mind.With 23 years and now 18 albums to their credit, Glass Hammer still proves they are a relevant force in the progressive rock world. I give Glass Hammer’s Valkyrie a 5/5 .
Glass Hammer is an American progressive rock band from Chattanooga, Tennessee. They formed in 1992 when multi-instrumentalists Steve Babb and Fred Schendel began to write and record “Journey of the Dunadan”, a concept album based on the story of Aragorn from J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings. To their surprise, the album sold several thousand units via the Internet, The QVC Shop-At-Home Network, and their own toll-free order number. As such, Babb and Schendel were convinced that the band was a project worth continuing. The stage was then set for a successful career that now includes numerous albums, DVDs and an enthusiastic, world-wide fan base that continues to grow at a steady rate.
While many musicians have appeared on Glass Hammer albums over the years, Babb and Schendel have remained the core creative force of the band. Both play a variety of instruments, but Babb is better known as the bassist while Schendel is the primary keyboardist. And though they also sing, a number of other vocalists (most notably Michelle Young, Walter Moore, Susie Bogdanowicz, Carl Groves and Jon Davison) have also handled lead vocal duties.
Lyrically, Glass Hammer is inspired mostly by their love of literature (most notably Tolkien, C. S. Lewis and John Krakauer) and Babb’s love of Victorian prose and medieval mythology. Musically, they lean towards 70′s driven symphonic rock, focusing on epic-length songs anchored by Babb’s distinctive bass guitar work and strong keyboard playing from Schendel; specifically Hammond organs in the tradition of ELP. They have a superb melodic flow to the music they make, encapsulating real power and dynamics without ever becoming overpowering. Their most apparent influences are Yes, ELP, Genesis, and, to a less noticeable extent, Camel. Fans and critics are usually quick to attest that Glass Hammer have managed to combine those influences into a unique style all their own.
Critically acclaimed albums have continued to flow from the Glass Hammer studio, with the most successful and noteworthy being “Chronomtree” (2000), “Lex Rex” (2002), “The Inconsolable Secret” (2005) and “IF” (2010). Vocalists and fan-favorites Carl Groves and Susie Bogdanowicz took a temporary hiatus from the band after 2009 and vocalist Jon Davison took over as lead vocalist for three studio albums; “IF”, “Cor Cordium” and “Perilous”. Kamran Alan Shikoh joined the band at the same time taking on the role of guitarist.
During the recording of “Perilous”, Davison also assumed the role as front-man for Yes. This led to Carl Groves rejoining the Glass Hammer in 2013 for live performances and recording. Aaron Raulston joined at the same time as drummer for the group. Susie Bogdanowicz rejoined in late 2013 and appeared along with Raulston, Groves and Shikoh in 2014 concerts.
Glass Hammer’s “Ode To Echo” release for 2014 featured performances by many of the band’s vocalists, including Bogdanowicz, Young, Moore and Davison, though Carl Groves was handling the lion’s share of the vocal duties for the band. “The Breaking Of The World” followed in 2015 along with the two CD one DVD set “Double Live” which was recorded and filmed at ROSFest in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. Carl Groves and Susie Bogdanowicz fronted the group throughout 2015.
2016’s “Valkyrie” saw the lineup shift somewhat as Carl Groves departed and Susie Bogdanowicz stepped to the fore. Before recording sessions began, Babb, Schendel, Shikoh and Raulston rehearsed the music of “Valkyrie” for several weeks, as if they were preparing for a live concert. This was a new approach for Glass Hammer album production. According to the band, this was done in order to better capture the live energy of an actual Glass Hammer performance. “Valkyrie” was also conceived as a “full-blown concept album” in the tradition of “Lex Rex”, and “The Inconsolable Secret”.
Fred Schendel: Keyboards, Guitars, Backing Vocals & Drums
Steve Babb: Bass, Keyboards, Backing Vocals, Lead Vocals & Percussion
Susie Bogdanowicz: Lead Vocals
Carl Groves: Lead Vocals
Aaron Raulston: Drums
Journey of the Dunadan (1993)
On to Evermore (1998)
The Middle Earth Album (2001)
Lex Rex (2002)
The Inconsolable Secret (2005, re-recorded in 2013)
Culture of Ascent (2007)
Three Cheers for the Broken-Hearted (2009)
Cor Cordium (2011)
Ode to Echo (2014)
The Breaking of the World (2015)
Live and Revived (1997)
Live at Nearfest (2004)
Double Live (2015)
Lex Live (2004)
Live at Belmont (2006)
Live at the Tivoli (2008)
Double Live (2015)
David & Goliath – the Musical – Babb and Schendel (2002)
One – Old recordings by Babb and Schendel from 1991-1992 (2010)
The Stories of H.P. Lovecraft – collaborative album of different artists (2012)
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