Glass Hammer performing at the Rites of Spring festival in 2015. From left to right: Babb, Bogdanowicz, Raulston, Groves, Shikoh, and Schendel.
|Origin||Chattanooga, Tennessee, United States|
|Genres||Progressive rock, symphonic rock|
|Labels||Arion Records/Audio Resources|
Kamran Alan Shikoh
Babb and Schendel, who founded the band in 1992, are the only constant members in the line-up, having surrounded themselves by various guests performers. The different lin-ups included several lead vocalists, including Michelle Young and Jon Davison. Originally a studio project only, the band occasionally performs live, especially since the early 2010s, but never does large-scale tours.
Origins and early years (1992-1997)
Schendel and Babb (then credited as "Stephen DeArqe")'s partnership first met in 1986, and formed Glass Hammer in 1992 when they begun to write and record Journey of the Dunadan, a concept album based on the story of Aragorn from J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings on which they performed most vocals and instruments. To their surprise, the album, released the following year, sold several thousand units via the Internet TV home shopping, and phone orders, convincing them that Glass Hammer was a project worth continuing.
Embarking on a small tour in the south-east of the USA, the band was joined by singer Michelle Young (who had been featured as a guest on a single track of Journey of the Dunadan), and drummer Walter Moore. With this line-up, they released their second album Perelandra in 1995, with Moore performing guitars instead of drums (which were handled by Schendel), and all four members performing lead vocals. It is another concept album, this time inspired by C. S. Lewis' The Chronicles of Narnia and Space Trilogy book series.
After a small tour to support the album, Young left the band in 1997 to pursue a solo career. The same year, the band released Live and Revived, a live/compilation album consisting of recorded live rehearsals from the previous tour and unreleased material written shortly after the release of Journey of the Dunadan. The album was originally limited to 1000 copies, but was later re-released. In parallel to Glass Hammer, Babb and Schendel created a techno/dance project, titled TMA-2, releasing two unsuccessful albums, Artifact One (1996) and Tick Tock Lilies (1998), before dropping the project.
Moore / Bogdanowicz years (1998-2009)
In 1998, Glass Hammer released their third studio album, On to Evermore, which saw Moore acting as main lead vocalist. It was followed two years later by Chronometree, another concept album following a young man who becomes convinced that aliens are trying to communicate with him through his albums. Guest Brad Marler provided lead vocals for the album.
Susie Bogdanowicz, who had provided backing vocals on Chronometree, joined the band as a full-time member for their 2001 album The Middle-Earth Album, their second album based on Lord of the Rings after Journey of the Dunadan. It was jokingly marketed as a live album recorded during a performance at The Prancing Pony, an inn in Lord of the Rings, during which the band sung about their journey to reach Middle-earth. Meanwhile, Moore also fully stopped acting as drummer, acting solely as singer on studio works, and also as guitarist in concerts. The Middle-Earth Album was followed the following year by Lex Rex, with the same line-up.
The band's seventh studio album Shadowlands was released in 2004.  The following year, The Inconsolable Secret would mark the last album with the line-up effective since The Middle-Earth Album, as Moore would leave his role as full-time member following the release of the album. In parallel to these studio albums, this line-up had also recorded and released the live album Live at Nearfest and the live DVD Lex Live, both recorded in 2003 and released in 2004.
After the departure of Moore, Glass Hammer recruited Carl Groves as their new male lead vocalists, recording and releasing the live DVD Live at Belmont in 2006. After a compilation album of rare/previously unreleased tracks titled The Compilations, the band released their first studio album with Groves, Culture of Ascent, in 2007. In 2009, the band took a completely different musical direction for their tenth studio album, Three Cheers for the Broken-Hearted, a pop rock album without Groves with focus on Bogdanowicz's vocals.
Davison years (2009-2014)
Later in 2009, both Bogdanowicz and Groves left Glass Hammer, and Schendel and Babb recruited new singer Jon Davison and new guitarist Kamran Alan Shikoh. Together, this new line-up released three studio albums: If in 2010, Cor Cordium in 2011, and Perilous in 2012. The albums saw a return to progressive rock, with a shift towards a symphonic rock-oriented sound compared to previous albums. All three albums were very positively received, and resulted in a notable gain in popularity for the band.
In 2013, the band re-releasedThe Inconsolable Secret, with several tracks re-recorded with Davison and Shikoh and included in a third disc.
In 2013, Bogdanowicz and Groves re-joined Glass Hammer, while Aaron Raulston joined as full-time drummer on January 17. With this seven-members line-up, the band released Ode to Echo in 2014, featuring all current and former full-time lead vocalists in the band's history, with current members Babb, Schendel, Bogdanowicz, Groves and Davison, and contributions by former vocalists Walter Moore and Michelle Young. After the release, Davison would quit working with the band due to his work with Yes, although he would only be officially removed from the line-up years later.
Recent years (2015-present)
In 2016, Carl Groves left the band once again, with the band choosing to focus on Bogdanowicz as vocalist. With this line-up, they released Valkyrie, a concept album following "a soldier’s struggle to return home from the horrors of war, to the girl who loves him and must ultimately find her way to him"; the album's vocals were focused on Bogdanowicz, although Schendel and Babb also performed secondary lead vocals for the first time in years. In a shift from their usual recording methods, the band rehearsed the album for several weeks, in order to record the album as if it were an actual live performance.
In 2017, the band released Untold Tales, a compilation album of unreleased or hard to find Glass Hammer recordings originating from the early 90s to 2017, and as such featured both current and former members of Glass Hammer. On the 2018 Cruise to the Edge festival, on which he was also performing with Yes, Davison performed with Glass Hammer as a guest, marking the first time he performed live with the band. In April 18, 2018, Glass Hammer announced their upcoming live album Mostly Live, which does not feature Kamran Alan Shikoh; they also removed Shikoh from the band's lineup on their official Facebook, stating in a post "And then there were four."
While many musicians have appeared on Glass Hammer albums over the years, Babb and Schendel have remained the core of the band. Both men play a variety of instruments, but Babb mainly concentrates on bass guitar and keyboards while Schendel also plays keyboards as well as various guitars and drums (until the addition of live drummer Matt Mendians to the studio recording band in 2004). They also sing, although a number of other vocalists (most notably Michelle Young, Walter Moore, Susie Bogdanowicz, Carl Groves, and Jon Davison) have also handled lead vocal duties.
Lyrically, Glass Hammer is inspired mostly by their love of fantasy literature (most notably Tolkien and C. S. Lewis) and by their Christian faith. Although by their own admission they have tried to avoid becoming an overtly Christian band, their 2002 release Lex Rex was a concept album based on a Roman soldier's encounter with Jesus.
Musically, their most apparent influences are Yes, Kansas, Emerson, Lake & Palmer and, to a less noticeable extent, Genesis. While Glass Hammer has, for the most part, combined those influences into a characteristic style of their own, they made much more direct references to the aforementioned bands on their 2000 album Chronometree, which told the story of a drug-addled progressive rock fan who becomes convinced aliens are speaking to him through the music he listens to.
Former session/guest musicians
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- "Chronometree review". Prognaut.com. October 19, 2010. Retrieved February 24, 2018.
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- "Lex Rex". Allmusic. Retrieved February 24, 2018.
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- "Glass Hammer reveal Valkyrie date, artwork and tracklist". TeamRock. July 27, 2016. Retrieved February 24, 2018.
- "Glass Hammer to release Untold Tales in October". TeamRock. September 22, 2017. Retrieved September 22, 2017.
- "UNTOLD TALES Pre-Order Now!". Glass Hammer's official website. September 11, 2017. Retrieved September 22, 2017.
- "UNTOLD TALES will feature vocalists Walter Moore, Susie Bogdanowicz, Jon Davison, Carl Groves, Laura Lindstrom, Fred Schendel and Steve Babb". Glass Hammer's official facebook. September 7, 2017. Retrieved September 22, 2017.
- Medina, Scott (February 16, 2018). "Cruise to the Edge 2018: The Successful Reinvention Of A Progressive Rock Festival". Sonic Perspectives. Retrieved February 24, 2018.
- Medina, Scott (April 18, 2018). "And then there were four". Sonic Perspectives. Retrieved April 18, 2018.
- "David and Goliath". 15 September 2002 – via Amazon.
- "Glass Hammer". www.facebook.com.
- Glass Hammer Official website
- Allmusic band description entry
- Glass Hammer Discography on Amazon.com