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progVisions

progVisions is a progressive rock e-zine, published in English and made by an international group of members. Our objective is to become a centre of information that contributes to the knowledge, growth and development of progressive rock.

album reviews

album review

Glass Hammer - Chronometree - 2000

" The new Glass Hammer CD is loaded with Mellotrons, Hammond organs, Mini-Moog solos, and tons of analog synths. Chronometree is a concept album about a concept album!"

Glass Hammer, a modern-day progressive rock band based in Tennesee, officially began in 1992 when long-term friends Steve Babb and Fred Schendel began writing and recording the Tolkienesque concept album "Journey of the Dunadan". It was released in 1993 and included several guest musicians including David Carter on guitars and Michelle Young on vocals. Later she would help to complete the GH live sound with playing additional keyboards. In 1995 the follow-up, "Perelandra" was released which was also a concept album and included the fan- favourite "Time marches on". After that album Michelle Young left to pursue a solo career. In 1997 when the band began working on their next epic, they released "Live and Revived"; a limited-edition collection of live rehearsal recordings and unreleased material written just after "Journey of the Dunadan" was released. "On to evermore" came out in March 1998 and the story of "Perelandra" was continued. There is more guitar on the album, together with the atmospheric keyboards which became Glass Hammer's trademark. And now there is their fifth album called "Chronometree".

The line-up of the band is as follows:
Fred Schendel - Hammond organ, mellotron, mini-Moog, synths, acoustic- and electric guitars, auto-harp, recorders, drums and backing vocals Steve Babb - Bass guitar, keyboards, mellotron, assorted analog synths and backing vocals Brad Marler - Lead and backing vocals, acoustic guitar Walter Moore - drums on "Chronos deliverer", electric and acoustic guitars
Special guests: Arjen Lucassen (Ayreon) - additional lead guitars Terry Clouse (Somnambulist) - lead guitar

"Chronometree" is a concept album about a concept album. After spending several albums singing about hobbits, fairies, fallen-angels and other fantastic creatures Glass Hammer decided it was time to add a little humour to the mix. "Chronometree" tells the bizarre story of Tom, who in 1979 decided the lyrics to his collection of Yes albums were actually alien instructions on how to build a time machine. The albums starts with the suite "All in good time - part one" which is divided into the following tracks 1a) "Empty space" 1b) "Revealer" (6:45) After some atmospheric guitar sounds we are immediately confronted with fat Hammond organ and analog synths and mellotron. It sets the tone of the concept very well, because the music reflects images of Yes and Emerson Lake & Palmer. But after the intro we here also the Glass Hammer sound, not so sweet as we are used to. I would like to describe it as Glass Hammer with balls. It's traditional progressive rock. If you listen well you can hear Arjen Lucassen (Ayreon) playing some guitar bits. (When I spoke to him for the Ayreon interview, he told me that he could be heard after two or three minutes in the first track.) The next piece is a ballad 2c) "An eldritch wind" (3:26) Acoustic guitar and slow keyboards forms the basis for this ballad with beautiful melodies. After that it is again sympho in 3d) "Revelation" 3e) "Chronometry" (8:07) Up tempo Hammond and guitar solos in "Revelation" and in "Chronometry" it slows down with great mellotron sounds in one of the many highlights of the album. 4f) "Chronotheme" (4:41) starts heavy with great keyboards and guitar solos; the piece is instrumental and a gem for traditional sympho/prog fans. Beautiful melodies in one of my favourite songs and a worthy ending of part one of the "All in good time" suite. 5) "A perfect carousel" (5:17) opens with acoustic guitar and after the first vocal lines we here again the mellotron that accompanies the slow vocal lines of this ballad. Later followed by all kinds of keyboards, which give the piece again some Yes influences. 6) "Chronos deliverer" (5:47) is more heavily and up-tempo. Beautiful Glass Hammer keyboards and the piece is a tribute to Yes in the "awaken" period. You can hear great Howe alike guitar bits. The piece is building up towards a great climax. After this beauty we continue with part two of the "All in good time" suite. 7g) "Shapes of the morning" (1:55) has again that great sympho spirit. A lot of keyboards and guitars, mini-Moog solos and fat bass guitar, I just love it. 8h) "Chronoverture" starts with acoustic piano and you think the music is slowing down. But after the piano the organs and synth solos burst into a great ELP like piece. And after a while again those screaming Howe guitar solos. Again a great track. 9i) "The waiting" 9j) "Watching the sky" (5:38) "The waiting" opens with melotron, and then the tempo slowly builds up with organ into a heavy sympho piece. In "Watching the sky" we hear some vocals to end this bizarre story. Some recorder melodies end this fine CD.

Glass Hammer shows us here that they can not only play sympho with atmospheric keyboards and sweet close harmony vocals about fairies. Don't understand me wrong, I always loved the keyboard sounds of Fred Schendel and Steve Babb. And sometimes I even miss that Glass Hammer sound in this recording; I also miss the voice of Michelle Young. But Glass Hammer shows us here that they can play mind-blowing complex passages in a more traditional prog (sympho) style. We can here where their roots are, Yes and Emerson Lake & Palmer. It is a tribute to that period of sympho history. This recording has a different Glass Hammer sound. It surprised me in a positive way. I hope Glass Hammer can reach a bigger audience with "Chronometree" If you are new to Glass Hammer and this is the first album you buy of them, there is much beautiful music to discover for you.

Douwe Fledderus - July, 2000
rating - Arion Records / Distribee

 

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