Glass Hammer was formed over 20 years ago and, in its first couple of albums, made music that was based on the writings of J.R.R. Tolkein, C.S. Lewis, and others of that ilk. While the members of the band have shifted over the years, the core writing team of bassist Steve Babb and keyboard player Fred Schendel has been consistent, and it is their vision, musical and lyrical, that drives the band. Their fondness for fantasy has remained a big part of their work.
In 2020, they released Dreaming City, the first of a trilogy of albums based on a new story about Skallagrim, a thief who has had his memory stolen along with the woman he loves. His adventures are continued in the second installment, Skallagrim – Into the Breach, and now concludes in the recently released At the Gate. Because of the nature of the story, they wanted the music to have a harder edge, and it does. But Glass Hammer never loses sight of the tunefulness and virtuosic playing that has been at the center of their work since the band’s inception.
Lyrically, taking a cue from the influences of Christian fantasy writers, Babb writes, “On the surface, it appears to be about magic swords and heroes, but it’s actually a story about confronting evil, how to survive it, and how to face despair and heartache. And most importantly, it’s about why the pursuit of profound and lasting joy in an often joyless world is worthwhile, even when all available evidence suggests it cannot be found.” At the Gate is a fun and interesting album with a fascinating story. It is well worth checking out. (Bandcamp)