Fred Schendel and Steve
Babb did it again! “Shadowlands” is the follow-up
of “Lex Rex” their successful symphonic masterwork out of 2002. “Shadowlands” is also an album packed with beautiful melodic prog. Next to all the
analog gear (Hammond, Moog) which provide the vintage sounds, the band
also uses a pipe organ and a string section. Again this is compulsory
listening for epic sympho lovers.
Fred Schendel – lead and backing vocals, steel guitar, all electric and acoustic guitars, Hammond organ, piano, pipe organ, keyboards, synthesizers, Mellotron, drums and percussion.
Steve Babb – lead and backing vocals, four and eight string bass guitars, synthesizers, keyboards, pipe organ, Mellotron, Taurus pedals and percussion.
Walter Moore – lead and backing vocals; Susie Bogdanowicz – lead and backing vocals; Sarah Snyder – backing vocals; Flo Paris – lead vocals (“So close, So far”); Bethany Warren – backing vocals (“Run Lisette”)
The Adonia String Trio: (string arrangements by Fred
Rebecca James – violin; Susan Hawkins – viola; Rachel Hackenburger – cello.
This eight Glass Hammer album consists out of five long tracks (I. So close, so far (9:50), II. Run Lisette (10:30), III. Farewell to shadowlands (7:30), IV. Longer (9:55), V. Behind the great beyond (20:26)).
“So close, so far” is a typical Glass Hammer piece with the classical opening of the acoustic guitars, great vocal work of all the excellent singers and of course the loads of keyboards. Throughout the whole album the vocal melodies and arrangements are great. Schendel and Babb produced this album wonderfully. In the last part of the openings track you will hear for the first time some Yes resemblance because of the guitar work of Schendel. But this is nothing compared to the second track called “Run Lisette”. Steve Howe seems to play the guitar, Chris Squire the bass and Rick Wakeman on keyboards and pipe organ. Glass Hammer’s version of “Awaken”. To be honest I have mixed feelings about this track. It sounds great, has nice Glass Hammer and Yes sounds... but it is too much “Awaken” of the “Going for the one” Yes album. I prefer those great vocal melodies together with the Glass Hammer sound. Like the wonderful closing part of this track. In my opinion they have gone a little bit too far in showing their affection for Yes music. “Farewell to shadowlands” has a better proportion of those musical styles. But maybe I’m to critical, most of you will love this album. The last two tracks are really fantastic. “Longer” has beautiful vocal arrangements and delicious keyboards. The highlight for me is the long epic “Behind the great beyond” (20:26). The opening is classical with the piano and the string trio. The next part is very symphonic with great bombastic keyboard work. The guitar sounds are still close to those of Howe, but this is the real Glass Hammer sound. This is sometimes a meltingpot of their own sounds and those of the great bands from seventies. When they use the violin in their music you get also a Kansas resemblance in the music. Halfway the composition is a classical guitar intermezzo which reminds me of the style of Steve Hackett. The bombastic finale is breathtaking.
Well this is another great album of one of my favorite symphonic bands. If you like epic symphonic rockmusic this album will give you a lot of pleasure. I like the violin in the music. The only thing that the band must keep in mind is the following: If they go too far with mixing those Yes and Kansas influences in their music, they will lose their own Glass Hammer sound and identity. With “Run Lisette” they are balancing on a thin rope. But “Shadowlands” is a very good symphonic album with a great production.