Martin Kielty at 03:13pm January 20 2014
Glass Hammer are preparing to release their 14th studio album Ode To Echo – and leading light Steve Babb has told Prog the material focuses on “some very dark ideas.” View a teaser trailer below.
Jon Davison, who also fronts Yes, has laid down vocal tracks alongside returned live singer Carl Groves and former member Susie Bogdanowicz. Guest musician include Rob Reed of Magenta, David Ragsdale of Kansas and Randy Jackson of Zebra.
And the album marks Glass Hammer’s first-ever collaboration with an outside lyricist in the track Crowbone, penned by British historical fiction novelist Robert Low.
Babb tells Prog: “We turned a corner last year when Carl rejoined to fill in for Jon, who was touring with what we call ‘the other band.’ We knew it wasn’t a good thing to have Carl only front us on stage, but we’d always said how much we would love to have him in the studio, as well as Susie – so, back she came as well In our minds, they’d never really left.
“Jon hasn’t quit just because he’s working with Yes, so Ode To Echo features all three of these singers, and even a couple of others from years gone by.
“Lyrically we’re dealing with mythology, using it to call attention to some very dark ideas. Narcissus is seen on the cover; fans can expect to hear our thoughts on narcissism. Ozymandias, I Am I and the oddly-titled Misantrog are three tracks that deal with narcissism specifically.”
Babb became a fan of Low’s books after reading his Oathsworn series, which deals with a group of Vikings as they battle their way across Europe in the tenth century. He explains: “Rob’s work is very gritty and down to earth, but he doesn’t shy away from the supernatural; and he does an outstanding job of putting you into the action. You can smell the fear, the sweat and blood of battle.
“With Rob I did something I very rarely do: I emailed him as a fan. To my surprise he replied and confessed to being a Glass Hammer fan. He sent me a poem he’d written for his novel Crowbone that he hadn’t used. He recently heard a rough mix of the track, and seems genuinely thrilled with the direction it has taken.”
And the experience has been a positive one for Babb: “Rob and other authors are absolutely welcome to send me verses or poems. There’s a very good chance we would do this again. Hawkwind had Michael Moorcock – Glass Hammer could have Rob Low. But anyone who has a spare bit of poetry lying around that wouldn’t mind having it ‘progged up’ should send me something soon!”
A firm release date hasn’t been set for Ode To Echo, but it’s due in the coming weeks. Babb reports: “Expect an album that sounds nothing like the last three or four, and yet sounds precisely like Glass Hammer. That seems like a contradiction, but will make much more sense to fans once they’ve heard the album.”