Glass Hammer — Skallagrim: Into The Breach
Glass Hammer is a band that clearly strives to keep evolving. Throughout their career, they have convincingly combined their progressive rock style with folk, pop, celtic, electronic and symphonic elements. 2020's Dreaming City saw them moving in a harder rock direction and Skallagrim : Into The Breach pushes things to the next level.
With a stronger emphasis on guitars, there is a modern prog-metal slant to much of the album. Other moments pay homage to the great hard rock sound of the 70s. You will even be occasionally reminded of a certain power rock trio from Canada.
Band leaders, Fred Schendel and Steve Babb have previously introduced listeners to excellent vocalists such as Jon Davison, Susie Bogdanowicz, Michelle Young and Carl Groves. New singer, Hannah Pryor continues that tradition.
The impact that she brings to the group is immediately apparent with the album openers, He's Got A Girl and Anthem To Andorath. There is a gusto to much of the materialm and it requires someone with the vocal strength and character to match. Pryor more than delivers. She is equally adept at the ethereal qualities needed on a song like The Forlorn Hope. The band with a significant knack for discovering great vocalists, have done so, yet again.
In a typically diverse Glass Hammer fashion, the heavier qualities that dominate are occasionally countered by resonantm electronic musical interludes. These serve as an effective and even necessary diversion. Steel is a more traditional prog showcase, but it is nonetheless impressive.
The back half of the album, beginning with The Ogre Of Archon and ending with Bright Sword is especially powerful. Both compositionally and performance-wise, this stretch of songs is a highlight of the band's career.
Though they will soon be celebrating their 30th anniversary, Skallagrim : Into The Breach feels like the work of a new band with something to prove. There is a confidence and urgency to the album that is worthy of respect. Most importantly though, this extremely entertaining release proves that Glass Hammer is still motivated to put forth their A game.