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Glass Hammer: Norse mythology and videogames

It takes something special to make waves in the prog backwater of Tennessee, but with their new concept album Valkyrie, Glass Hammer may have just hit the nail on the head

In Norse mythology, a valkyrie is a female entity who decides whether a warrior lives or dies on a battlefield, and if he’s incredibly brave, she may become his lover. So Valkyrie is an apt title for Glass Hammer’s 18th studio album, because that’s the kind of destiny level of control it has over their future.

The follow-up to last year’s The Breaking Of The World is a concerted effort on the part of mainmen Fred Schendel and Steve Babb to fight off the struggles of recent years, and win the hearts of a wider audience.

Those struggles have included the loss of vocalist Jon Davison to Yes, re-engaging some parts of their audience who’d begun to lose patience, and finding a solution to the near-crippling problem of being a progressive music band in the southern US state of Tennessee.

Valkyrie tells the story of a soldier in need of rescue and the woman who comes to his aid. She’s played by vocalist Susie Bogdanowicz after Schendel and Babb decided that, after many years of being on the periphery, it was time she took the front and centre role.

“We’d been talking about it since we played RoSfest last year,” bassist-vocalist Babb says. “‘Man, this girl needs to front a real, true progressive rock album.’ You couldn’t help noticing over the years that she’s a firm fan favourite. She did front the band for most of Three Cheers For The Broken-Hearted [2009] but that wasn’t such a classic album.”

When Jon Davison joined us, some of the fans left, but a whole new group came on board. I’m not sure what the Yes connection did for us.

When the word got out, the response was positive. “We didn’t know if it would work out logistically, but when we announced it, people told us, ‘Great move!’ Nothing against our other singers, but Susie is our most identifiable.”

The decision came in the light of two creative innovations. For the first time, the duo constructed an album that allows Bogdanowicz’s contribution to increasingly stand out. More importantly, they committed to working much more like a live outfit.

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