Glass Hammer - Valkyrie album review

Prolific Tennesseans Glass Hammer set course for Valhalla.

Glass Hammer - Valkyrie album cover

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One of the ironies that pervades prog is that so many bands hark back to the genre’s 1970s heyday and, in the most pedantic sense possible, it’s tricky to be progressive when you’re trying to sound like it’s 1978. Prog bands love to describe their sound as ‘cinematic’ and that’s clearly what Glass Hammer are going for in the sweep and scope of Valkyrie, a concept album about a soldier traumatised by war.

The instrumental section of No Man’s Land is particularly impressive on that front, exceeded only by the album closer Rapturo, which builds from a sparse piano melody to a crescendo that fairly warrants the word ‘epic’. The track also offers a moment where the band touch on a more contemporary, heavily layered sound moving towards Mogwai. The other concession to the modern world is the drum loop of Nexus Girl, but otherwise Glass Hammer embrace their retro proclivities, putting the keyboards at the front of the mix, much like Yes (who poached vocalist Jon Davison from the band) or Kansas. With its dark subject, Valkyrie is a melancholy listen, but the playing and composition are top-class, while the vintage approach feels comfortingly familiar.

After starting his writing career covering the unforgiving world of MMA, David moved into music journalism at Rhythm magazine, interviewing legends of the drum kit including Ginger Baker and Neil Peart. A regular contributor to Prog, he’s written for Metal Hammer, The Blues, Country Music Magazine and more. The author of Chasing Dragons: An Introduction To The Martial Arts Film, David shares his thoughts on kung fu movies in essays and videos for 88 Films, Arrow Films, and Eureka Entertainment. He firmly believes Steely Dan’s Reelin’ In The Years is the tuniest tune ever tuned.