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Glass Hammer: Live at NEARFest
Artist: Glass Hammer
Label: Sound Resources
Length: 11 Tracks/72:43
You may think this reviewer silly (you wouldn’t be the first!), but listening to Glass Hammer makes me want to do all sorts of things. Like learning to skillfully handle a broadsword, jumping on a charging steed, and dashing off to save a bunch of people in need of help. Glass Hammer’s music inspires me. It is the stuff of imagination, bringing to mind visions of great battles, epic landscapes, and the temporal struggle between good and evil. Listening to Glass Hammer’s music is like a examining a lush, richly woven tapestry-there are so many intricate layers and sonic treats that a new discovery awaits each time you listen.
Glass Hammer: Live at NEARFest is a rarity-a chance to hear Glass Hammer in a live setting in front of an appreciative crowd. The band performs cuts from their classic Chronometree CD, a near-entire rendition of their penultimate release Lex Rex, and very special guest Richard Williams of Kansas joins the band for a rousing rendition of his bands classic “Portrait (He Knew).” Add an 18-member choir to augment an already stellar band and you have the makings of a live progressive rock classic.
The live sound on Glass Hammer: Live at NEARFest is first-rate, the instruments are clear and easily heard (this is a great headphone CD by the way), and Steve Babb’s thunderous, powerful bass is deep and rich. Glass Hammer’s keyboard magic (mostly courtesy of the talented and busy fingers of Fred Schendel) soars on Glass Hammer: Live at NEARFest as various layers of keyboards wrap you in an aural cloud of delight. And the band’s trademark Multi-Voxä (male and female vocalists harmonizing and singing multiple levels of elegant, dramatic vocal magic) make Glass Hammer: Live at NEARFest an unforgettable must-hear.
It is difficult to pick highlights on Glass Hammer: Live at NEARFest since most of Lex Rex is represented and that album stands together as a work of merit and distinction. The cover of “Portrait (He Knew)” is undoubtedly a treat, but my favorite moments on the CD are the closing trilogy of the “Chronos Deliver” (a haunting rock hymn of praise made more memorable by the addition of the choir), “When We Were Young” (the climactic chapter of Lex Rex which features impressive vocals from Steve Babb and Fred Schendel), and the spectacular closer “Heaven” (a C.S. Lewis inspired song that still brings tears!) featuring these touching lyrics:
Throw off the chains for the mortal is done awayFolks, there is a world of artists out there outside the boring “mainstream” music scene. Glass Hammer is one of them deserving of attention…and they need to spend some time in your CD player. Pick up Glass Hammer: Live at NEARFest and check it out. But be careful, you may want to grab a sword run out and slay a dragon or something afterwards.
DJ Barry 10/17/2004