“The Breaking Of The World” is the latest, fifteenth, studio album from American progressive rock band Glass Hammer.
The band were formed in 1992 by multi-instrumentalists Fred Schendel and Steve Babb to make “Journey Of The Dunadan”, a concept album based on that story of Aragorn from “The Lord Of The Rings” by J.R.R. Tolkien. A number of musicians have passed through the ranks of the group since then, with Schendel and Babb being the only constant members from 1992 to date.
Largely influenced lyrically by the works of Tolkien, C.S. Lewis and other fantasy writers, as well as the Christian faith, the band have produced some very good progressive rock albums during their career, with “Three Cheers For The Broken Hearted” from 2009 and 2011’s “Cor Cordium” being amongst my favourite of their releases.
For this new album, the line-up features Schendel (keyboards / guitars) and Babb (bass / keyboards) alongside lead vocalists Carl Groves and Susie Bogdanowicz, guitarist Kamran Alan Shikoh and drummer Aaron Raulston. Jon Davison, who joined the band during 2009 as lead vocalist, and has also been lead singer for progressive rock legends Yes since 2012, took no part on the recording of the new album although he is seemingly still a member of Glass Hammer .
My first impressions on listening to “The Breaking Of The World” was that it was a very seventies sounding album, whilst also sounding fresh and modern! I suppose by that I mean that it is most definitely a progressive rock record in the tradition of Yes, Kansas, etc., rather than the likes of Steven Wilson, but still has a modern sound in terms of production etc.
Opening track “Mythopoeia” is indicative of how the album is going to pan out. Intricate musical sections with plenty of light and shade, and yet immediately accessible due to great melodies and lovely harmonies on the vocals, with fabulous musicianship throughout.
The introduction to eleven minute “Third Floor” contains echoes of Genesis before heading off on a fantastic progressive rock voyage. This, along with “Babylon”, “Nothing, Everything”, “Bandwagon” and “North Wind” are probably my favourite tracks at the moment, but this is a really good listen from start to finish.
There is so much going on in each track that it’s arguably slightly pointless to try and pick out specific highlights. The standard right across the board is set very high indeed, and I would say that this record is like an aural feast for you to digest, and well worth taking time to savour it too. Tuck in!…
The Breaking Of The World tracklist:
1. Mythopoeia / 2. Third Floor / 3. Babylon / 4. A Bird When It Sneezes / 5. Sand / 6. Bandwagon / 7. Haunted / 8. North Wind / 9. Nothing, Everything