Glass Hammer - Shadowlands

Year of Release: 2004
Label: Arion Records
Catalog Number: SR1122
Format: CD
Total Time: 58:08:00

For the longest time, I had a real challenge in deciding what I felt about this band. Just when I was beginning to think they were not very special, they released the excellent Lex Rex which became one of my top ten albums of that year.

Now, while still hot from that critically acclaimed album, they release Shadowlands, less than two years later.

The biggest problem I have with most US prog bands is the mediocrity of their vocals. It seems that many can?t find singers who have nuance, personality, and originality to their delivery. Glass Hammer suffers from this same problem, and with Lex they solved it by working the songs around the instrumental parts rather than the vocals.

Unfortunately, on Shadowlands, they do this only half the time and many good moments are spoiled by the intrusive vocals.

Case in point: the first song, ?So Close, So Far," which had me reaching for the advance button within the first minute of hearing the CD. Fortunately, the second half is dominated by some excellent moog and keyboard work.

The second track, ?Run Lisette,? has the effective pipe organ work the band has been boasting about, plus some tasty violin. Unfortunately, it?s drenched in vocals, this time by not only Walter Moore, but he?s counterpointed by Susie Bogdanowicz, who sounds like Tracy Hutchings, and that is not a good thing. Their dual vocals sounds more like squaring off than harmonies ? always in conflict with one another.

?Farewell To Shadowlands? is a bit heavier, with excellent moog textures and a long (thankfully) instrumental opening. Then the vocals. Worse then ever. Moore and Bogdanowicz simply can?t carve a tune around the instruments. It?s not all their fault. The first three songs, musically, are not on the same level as Lex Rex.

?Longer? has some tasty Hammond, but it?s a send up of a pop song and a bad one at that, so expectations of this song were not exactly high. ?Behind The Great Divide? is the 20 plus minute Opus track. Strings, piano, moog, Mellotron, Hammond, the whole nine yards. There is plenty to like in this track and shows the band in fine progressive form as they meander instrumentally around various themes. The vocals are somewhat laid back and less obtrusive. There?s even a kind of lounge jazz feel to it. I still didn?t find anything spectacular about it.

Another fault of the CD is the noticeable absence of the guitar in the mix. It?s so far down, and in general, this album lacks some edgy guitar work to provide some rock power to the symphonics.

For me, Shadowlands is a big disappointment after Lex Rex. This was a band that showed that they could be as good as the old boys and finally was a band to reckon with. While the new album is not terrible (as my review would make it seem), it is nothing special. It breaks no new ground, and is not good enough to be remembered by year?s end.

So Close, So Far (9:50) / Run Lisette (10:30) / Farewell To Shadowlands (7:30) / Longer (9:55) / Behind The Great Beyond (20:26)

Steve Babb - vocals, four and eight string bass, synthesizers, keyboards, pipe organ, Mellotron, Taurus pedals, percussion
Fred Schendel - vocals, steel guitar, electric and acoustic guitars, Hammond organ, piano, pipe organ, keyboards, synthesizers, Mellotron, drums, percussion


Walter Moore - vocals
Susie Bogdanowicz - vocals
Sarah Snyder - backing vocals
Flo Paris - vocals
Bethany Warren - backing vocals

The Adonia string trio:

Rebecca James - violin
Susan Hawkins - viola
Rachel Hackenburger - cello

Journey To The Dunadan (1994)
Perelandra (1996)
Live And Revived (1997)
On To Evermore (1997)
Chronometree (2000)
The Middle Earth Album (2001)
Lex Rex (2002)
Shadowlands (2004)
Live At NEARFest (2004)
The Inconsolable Secret (2005)
Culture Of Ascent (2007)
Three Cheers For The Broken-hearted (2009)
If (2010)
One (via GH only) (2010)
Cor Cordium (2011)
Perilous (2012)
The Inconsolable Secret (Deluxe Edition) (2013)
Ode To Echo (2014)
Breaking Of The World (2015)
Double Live (2015)
Valkyrie (2016)
Untold Tales (2017)
Mostly Live In Italy (2018)
Chronomonaut (2018)

Lex Live (DVD) (2004)
Live At Belmont (DVD) (2006)
Live At The Tivoli (DVD) (2008)

Genre: Symphonic Prog

Origin US

Added: March 7th 2004
Reviewer: RIPZ
Artist website:
Hits: 1308
Language: english


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