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Culture Of Ascent

23 customer reviews

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Audio CD, October 23, 2007
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Featuring Guest Vocalist - Jon Anderson.

Culture of Ascent takes Glass Hammer into new territory. The performances of French guitar-virtuoso David Shreddy Wallimann prove the perfect marriage for the highly technical, prog-metal drumming of Matt Mendians; giving Culture of Ascent a modern edginess something unusual for a band well known for its mastery of analog gear and seventies proginess. But GH hasn t forgotten its classic prog-roots as YES front-man and Glass Hammer collaborator Jon Anderson makes his debut performances with the band on two of the albums tracks.

Culture of Ascent s lyrics are based in part on the best-selling Jon Krakauer novel, Into Thin Air , which tells first hand of the historical 1996 Mount Everest tragedy. GH still has their optimism intact however, as their new music evokes images of Everest s majesty as well as its many perils. The album s six epic tracks total over sixty-nine minutes. Glass Hammer s tenth release is a must-buy for fans, and sure to be a hit with connoisseurs of modern progressive rock.


"...this is Glass Hammer's best album yet. And that is saying a lot." --S. T. Karnick (

"...Thanks in great part to the more singable, natural vocal lines devised by composers Babb and Schendel, Culture of Ascent makes a stronger, more direct emotional connection with the listener than has been characteristic of previous Glass Hammer albums. Given that the music is as intelligent and complex as we have come to expect from this band, and that the lyrical concept is equally intelligent and sophisticated..." --S. T. Karnick (
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (October 23, 2007)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Arion Records / Sound Resources
  • ASIN: B000WW1Z9G
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #197,873 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By todd on December 20, 2007
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
I've never been big a fan of this prog band from Tennessee, but they sure are popular in prog circles. I've always critisized them in the past for being milktoast - not ballsy enough, too artsy-fartsy, lazy writing - steller musicianship though, at least one good song per album anyway. Kind of a souped-up Manheim Steamroller.

This new one is different. They have a couple of new members, Carl Groves of the band Salem Hill, who in my opinion is a much, much better writer of music and lyrics, and guitarist David Wallimann, who provides an edgier guitar sound. The songs on this new GH album, Culture Of Ascent, have bite, but still retain the air of symphonic prog. Not to say that GH sucked before, but they were a band patterned after the ELP side of prog (and I have little use for ELP). With this new album they have a more modern modern as this style of music gets anyway.

A few caveats - they touted this new one for months saying Jon Anderson was appearing on it...and he does, except he only provides "vocalizations" , not real vocals, so in my estimation, its like getting to second base on a date, over top of the winter coat. So anyone buying this CD thinking Anderson plays a major role on it will be disappointed. And while I appreciate the edge that Wallimann brings to this band, his soloing came acrossed a tad misplaced at times. The solos could have been thought out a bit better.

Carl Grove's touch is all over this one. I think the writing has improved and the compositions are stronger than on other GH albums. Perhaps GH is the prog outlet Groves has been looking for - fans of Salem Hill might want to take note of this new GH album, as its the prog album SH fans always wanted Carl Groves to make.

I like this rendition of Glass Hammer.
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11 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Eric L. Franklin on November 8, 2007
Format: Audio CD
Where do you go from up? You ascend of course...

Glass Hammer is the best modern progressive rock band, and if it weren't for the existance of Gentle Giant, I'd put them solidly in the running for Best Progressive Rock Band Ever (sorry, Yes).

Other reviewers have hit several points: the more "metal" edged guitars, not enough Susie, repeated listenings, VERY hard to top "The Inconsolable Secret" et al. I think all these are all valid points, but my impression on one listening (so far) is that this is yet another darn fine effort from Glass Hammer. And now for the unavoidable prog band comparisons...

I find the harder edged guitar work more "Kansas" than "Dream Theater". It may be a little harsher than we're used to, but it works well in this work. If "The Inconsolable Secret" is Glass Hammer's "Close to the Edge", "Culture of Ascent" is their "Going For The One" (Awaken is perhaps my second favorite Yes song, so this is also a Good Thing). The vocals are fine throughout and Jon Anderson is always a delight to listen to, but Steve and Fred if you're reading this, more Susie B. would definitely be a Good Thing!

All that being said, Glass Hammer is not Yes, Kansas, ELP, or Gentle Giant. They are a fantastic band in their own right and their music has yet to fail to be anything less than uplifting. "Culture of Ascent" is no exception. A single listen in the old Grados has me sitting here with a big ear-to-ear grin; this is absolutely delightful music! It is a different and somewhat exotic flavor from their past work, but I'm looking forward to repeated listenings and digesting "Culture of Ascent" fully in the near future.

All in all, if you like progressive rock or Glass Hammer, you will like this album. It is definitely worth adding to your collection.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Michael Northrop on January 9, 2010
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
This CD has an absolutely breath-taking cover of Yes' South Side of the Sky, and Jon Anderson himself adds a small intro vocal. The rest of the CD is okay. There are a few good, extended prog riffs scattered here and there, but there are no other tracks that feature the female vocals heard on the Yes cover. Too bad, she is a great singer.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Silverhand on June 6, 2013
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
This is such a great album. I can't seem to get enough of it. The cover of South Side of the Sky is great, and it just goes up from there. The nearly 20 minute long Into Thin Air is my favorite, a thought-provoking reflection on seeking high goals with all our limitations, with a hint of the true Goal. Culture of Ascent is a great name for the album, as most of the songs contemplate man's climbing at some point.
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6 of 9 people found the following review helpful By David Momberg on October 23, 2007
Format: Audio CD
This is a very special release for me personally, being that Glass Hammer's founders Steve Babb and Fred Schendel live in my hometown and we have become friends and I've been able to help with one of their concerts and was priviledged to hear this release about a month ago at their studio. It is fortunate that I can be totally objective and honest at the same time about this masterpiece. GH has re-invented themselves slightly over the last few releases. 2005's "The Inconsolable Secret" featured one disc of more conventional GH synth laden symphonic prog, and the other was a masterwork(IMO)of more classically and soundtrack influenced prog with some incredible vocals from their many female singers. The early buzz on this release was that it would be edgier, harder, and even more YES influenced(with the guest vocalizations from Jon Anderson). All of this is true and much more. They've done more than re-invent their sound, they've perfected the best symphonic and melodice elements of their sound and added a more dense modern sound to it. The disc(which lyrically centers around mountain climbing-physically and spiritually)opens appropriately with a totally innovative rendition of YES' "South Side of the Sky".Susie Bogdanawicz handles the vocals masterfully as it combines loops,sitar, and shredding guitar work(from newcomer David Walliman)with the tradional piano solo and middle vocal section that rivals if not surpasses the original.This song segues masterfully into "Sun Song"-one of my favs, that starts with a modern synth sound, great harmony vocals from new Lead singer Carl Groves and Susie B., and has some incredibly fast but tasty shredding from Mr. Walliman.Read more ›
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