Sound Resources/Arion Records
Release Date: Sept 27, 2016
Glass Hammer is probably one of the greatest progressive rock bands that you may have never heard, and if you haven’t heard them yet it is high time you did. I have been a fan of these prog rock masterminds for nearly fifteen years, and I have watched these guys evolve from a good band to one of the greatest, most entertaining progressive rock bands of all time. One thing that makes Glass Hammer stand above the rest is their willingness to fearlessly experiment with new sounds and continually recreate themselves without compromising who they are. Sure, during their experimental phases they have been criticized but for this reviewer, I saw it as a sign of maturity and an openness to go against the flow and not allow themselves to be put into a box.
Valkyrie is their newest and 16th studio album which is a concept album about a soldier who goes off to fight a noble war and for whatever reason cannot return. The soldier may not be able to return but Glass Hammer fans do see the return of Susie Bogdanowicz to the forefront and she sounds magnificent! The last album she was featured on was Three Cheers For the Broken Hearted. This reviewer would like to say that it’s nice to hear Boganowicz again. But fear not fans not much has changed as the music and lyrics are still written and played by the dynamic duo (masterminds) Fred Schendel and Steve Babb. Additionally, drummer Aaron Raulston provides all percussion and jazz-rock guitarist Alan Shikoh mans the axe.
Valkyrie is a nine track CD that clocks in at over 60 minutes of some of the finest progressive rock ever recorded. Opening the CD is the nearly 7-minute blockbuster “The Fields We Know” which quickly sets the pace for the remainder of the CD. From the opening note listeners are assured that this is “classic” Glass Hammer and it only gets better. The highlight of the CD is the longest song “No Man’s Land” clocking in at 14:20 is a great catchy number that highlights the genius of Fred Schendel’s keyboard artistry. Closing out the CD is the 24-minute epic “Rapturo” which begins on a very somber note but crescendo’s and fades out to an epic ending leaving the listener begging for more.
Valkyrie is hands down the best prog rock album of 2016. Glass Hammer continues to deliver album after album. Their sound is reminiscent of the early to mid-70s which is the greatest era of prog. VALKYRIE’s musical mixture of Genesis, Yes and Kansas and the vocal of Susan Bogdanowic makes for a prog geek like myself dreams come true.
Reviewed by: Jeff1340