Glass Hammer - Shadowlands

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

Prog is alive and kicking, and epic songs like they used to be made are still among us and Glass Hammer created them. Shadowlands is their eighth album and yet again they managed to rise above their previous album. Prog wizards Steve Babb and Fred Schendel once again managed to create intricate melodies, epic songs and yet vintage sounds. Since 1992, these long time friends are making music together and with much success. A number of their albums are inspired by Tolkien, but you will also find several religious influences in their music. Babb and Schendel, besides composing, producing and mixing, they almost play all instruments and they both sing. But as on their previous albums, they once more invited several guests to brighten up the album.

The press release had as catch phrase: "Once more the Hammond screams and the Moog Soars!" And how just this is! The identifying sound of Glass Hammer is the vast array of analogue synths and keyboards they use. In addition to that, on Shadowlands they play a half-million dollar pipe organ and include three piece string section. The album is just under one hour, divided into 5 tracks, and immediately in the first track, "So Close, So Far" already you hear lots of Yes (Close To The Edge), Emerson, Lake and Palmer and even some Camel (Breathless) in the music. The sound of Glass Hammer can be compared to those bands, but are not alike! One of the strong points of Babb and Schendel are the vocal lines, in total 7 vocalists are involved, that mix and intertwine, without getting chaotic. This opening track "So Close, So Far" has a very nice instrumental piece, close to the end, where they even bring in a bit of laid back blues rock. "Run Lizette" features the pipe organ, giving it a grand sound.

Shadowlands includes one cover; in my opinion in the vein of the Yes' cover "America" from Simon and Garfunkel, as they poured it into their own style, yet you are able to recognize what song it is. Glass Hammer covers Dan Fogelberg?s "Longer," but it will take you a little over two minutes before you hear the familiar melody! And along the way, the Glass Hammer sound takes over at times, turning this cover into a true Glass Hammer song. The album ends with the magnum opus of the album: "Behind The Great Beyond," an epic song of just over 20 minutes. This song opens with a classical piano tune, accompanied by strings, really taking you back in time. Without any doubt this is one of the greatest songs I have heard in a long time! Smooth guitar pieces, fantastic melody and it breathes a warm and pleasant atmosphere, despite the lyrics, which really make you think about the why and what of existence.

I have to be honest and say I absolutely love analogue synths, so one reason why Shadowlands is very high on my fav albums list, but besides that, the album is excellent and this highly recommended. The lyrics are thought of and the music is captivating. Nothing over the top, but everything balanced. In addition to the "glass" clear production, the artwork is noteworthy, as it is really beautiful! Congrats to Steve Babb and Fred Schendel for doing what others (like Yes) can?t do: create another classic album that will stand the test of time. And yes, prog is very much alive, with bands such as Glass Hammer.

Similar bands: Yes

[This review originally appeared at the ProgPower Online review site -ed.]

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: February 1st 2004
Reviewer: Marcel Haster
Artist website:
Hits: 1229
Language: english


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