(All Album Reviews by 3LockBox)
I've never been big a fan of this prog band from Tennessee, but they sure are popular around PE. I've always criticized them for being milk toast - 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 across 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. 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 it’s the prog album SH fans always wanted Carl Groves to make.
I like this rendition of Glass Hammer. No, this won't convert too many people already opposed to symphonic prog. The guitar play is meatier, but this isn't by any stroke a metallish sound; it’s still pretty much a keyboard affair. Sounding like a prog rock album, and not a Windham Hill album, it seems that someone finally lit a fire under GH for this new one.