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Culture Of Ascent

4.0 out of 5 stars 23 customer reviews

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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.

Review

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

"...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 (stkarnick.com)
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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: #205,168 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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 sound...well...as 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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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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Format: MP3 Music Verified Purchase
This is my third Glass Hammer album. I think it is my favorite. There is not one weak tune in the collection. Each one has its own fascination and unique Progressive Rock approach to sonic joy. If you are a PR fan, get this immediately!

I also have "If" and "Cor Cordium". My preferences are Culture, If, and Cor in that order. But I do love them all.
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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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I feel let down by this release: it had so much potential that was, ultimately, never fully realized. I love Progressive music but there comes a point when listening to this album, somewhere around Life by Light, that the flourishes begin to feel forced, and it starts to sound lazy, settling for riffs that stagnate and ultimately drag the songs to unwarranted lengths. This lazy feeling carries over into the lyrics, making an otherwise intriguing, yet not wholly original, concept feel weak and underwhelming, as if the band's attempt at narrative is crushed by the unrealized potential of its music. This album doesn't do it for me, and while I recognize that there are some positive qualities here (the rhythm section and some of the vocals) they simply cannot make up for the weaknesses. I wanted to love this album, but was denied.

2.5/5
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