GLASS HAMMER – Chronomonaut (2018)
American prog band GLASS HAMMER have a history of making progressive rock music longer than many bands on the scene, debuting in 1992. “Chronomonaut” is their 17th album to date and, like all those previous is centered around the music of Steve Babb and Fred Schendel.
Babb says the new concept album tells the story of “the ultimate prog fan.” Babb elaborates, “Our album deals with time travel, nostalgia and the love of prog-rock. ‘Chronomonaut’s’ protagonist, Tom, starts his own band and then makes the attempt to go back to the Seventies in hopes of becoming a prog-god. It’s all in fun and is really a very tongue-in-cheek look at how our favorite music can take us back in time.”
Long been known as being proponents of classic progressive rock with influences from the 70s, Glass Hammer make a bold new statement with ‘Chronomonaut’, a new direction that gives them a definitive sound of their own. I’m always excited by the announcement of a new album from this band but, this time, they have gone more than the extra mile.
The classic Glass Hammer sound is intact, diverse, clever time signatures, stand out solos and recurring themes appear throughout. However, it should be their most ‘classic prog’ sounding album to time.
‘Twilight of the Godz’ is one of my favorite songs on the album, an ever so elegant track where Tom debates the merits of reliving the past with an old band mate. Brian Brewer’s soulful blues guitar and Susie Bogdanowicz’s heartfelt and passionate vocals stand out, Fred Schendel’s ultra smooth Hammond and Steve Babb’s keyboards providing layers of class, and the guitar run out is a thing of sheer brilliance.
This enjoyable romp through space and time continues with the stylishly delivered ‘1980 Something’ where, ‘Like an old girlfriend returned from decades ago, the past beckons..’ Susie’s vocals, some judiciously played guitar and Steve’s dexterous keyboards (he doesn’t just play bass you know!) imbue the song with timeless sophistication and refinement.
‘A Hole In The Sky’ sees the story get serious, ‘Tom must make the attempt to go back in time. The past, nostalgia, whatever it is that’s calling him, he has to find it.’ The music definitely takes a trip back in time with a bouncing vibe that is really infectious. The vocals, guitar and, especially, keyboards invoke such feelings of that decade that you’re virtually transported there yourself, it’s a very clever piece of music.
A sci-fi inspired instrumental titled ‘Clockwork’, with its ’80s sounding keyboards, is two minutes of musical dexterity which wouldn’t have been out of place in one of the Terminator movies.
Glass Hammer show that they can do the pomp and circumstance with the exhilarating ‘Blinding Light’. The sumptuous brass section, dynamic drums and exalted keyboards give the track a vibrancy and inject it with heart and soul. Excellent vocals and subtle guitar are the icing on a rather tasty cake, one that emphasizes the impressive new sound and direction that the band are taking.
This hugely entertaining story is brought to a close with the ten minute near-epic ‘Fade Away’. Bringing the story round full circle, but leaving the door open for a further installment, it’s an inventive and intelligent piece of music that touches your heart with its opening. A tender piano and subdued vocal taking the story up. Like all the best tracks it builds on simple beginnings to blossom into something quite magnificent. The vocals take on the role of storyteller and bard, the musicians giving them the canvas to paint on, building layers and layers of sophistication.
This song is a totally immersive ten minutes that you gladly lose yourself in and it twists and turns and then gives you the ultimate reward at the end, a quite wonderful closing guitar solo from Reese Boyd.
Albums like “Chronomonaut” are the reason why I love music so much and it has become part of my life. It sees a band I love unafraid to take a relatively new direction, organically progressive if you like.
While not completely straying from their roots, Glass Hammer have taken a path less trodden and delivered what is, without a doubt, their best album yet and a fantastic new direction of power, precision and downright soul.
01 – The Land of Lost Content
02 – Roll For Initiative
03 – Twilight of the Godz
04 – The Past Is Past
05 – 1980 Something
06 – A Hole In the Sky
07 – Clockwork
08 – Melancholy Holiday
09 – It Always Burns Sideways
10 – Blinding Light
11 – Tangerine Meme
12 – Fade Away
Susie Bogdanowicz – lead & backing vocals
Fred Schendel – lead & backing vocals, keyboards, guitars
Steve Babb – bass, keyboards, backing vocals
Aaron Raulston – drums
Matthew Parmenter – vocals
Chris Herin – guitar
Reese Boyd – guitar
BUY IT !