Hot on the heels of BBT’s magnificent Common Ground album comes this announcement of another new album! In the case of Big Big Train, you really can’t have too much of a good thing, so this is welcome news:
Big Big Train – announce new album ‘Welcome to the Planet’
New single “Made From Sunshine” out now
Six months after the release of the critically acclaimed album ‘COMMON GROUND‘, Big Big Train are pleased to announce a new album ‘WELCOME TO THE PLANET’, due out on January 28th, 2022 on their own label, English Electric Recordings.
Big Big Train founder Gregory Spawton explains the short time between albums: “The experience of the pandemic has shown us that we need to make the best use of our time on Earth. With that in mind and with new band members on board giving us a fresh head of steam, we decided on a speedy return to the studio to write and record Welcome To The Planet.”
As with ‘COMMON GROUND’, ‘WELCOME TO THE PLANET’ sees Big Big Train retain their progressive roots but also take influence from all spheres of music. The album’s opener ‘Made From Sunshine’, co-written by guitarist Dave Foster and singer David Longdon, has guitar lines redolent of Johnny Marr and vocal harmonies reminiscent of the Finn Brothers/Crowded House, with violinist Clare Lindley sharing lead vocals with Longdon.
Elsewhere on the album, keyboard player Carly Bryant gets her first Big Big Train writing credit and lead vocal on the captivating title track. The two recent singles ‘The Connection Plan’ and ‘Lanterna’ are included along with a winter themed song ‘Proper Jack Froster’, a bittersweet tale of childhood. The album is completed by the delicate acoustic ‘Capitoline Venus’, the beautiful ‘Oak And Stone’ and a pair of dazzling instrumentals, ‘A Room With No Ceiling’ and ‘Bats In The Belfry’, written by guitarist/keyboardist Rikard Sjöblom and drummer Nick D’Virgilio respectively.
You can listen to “Made From Sunshine” here:
Here is the track listing:
BIG BIG TRAIN ‘WELCOME TO THE PLANET’
Made From Sunshine
The Connection Plan
A Room With No Ceiling
Proper Jack Froster
Bats In The Belfry
Oak And Stone
Welcome To The Planet
For their March 2022 UK tour, which will be their most extensive to date and which will culminate with a show at the prestigious London Palladium, David Longdon (lead vocals, flute), Nick D’Virgilio (drums, vocals), Rikard Sjöblom (guitars, keyboards, vocals), Greg Spawton (bass), Carly Bryant (keyboards, guitars, vocals), Dave Foster (guitars) and Clare Lindley (violin, vocals) will be joined by a five piece brass ensemble. In addition to two further UK shows in September, the band expects to announce North American and continental European tour dates shortly.
UK TOUR MARCH 2022 TICKETS ON SALE NOW AT
Pictures often bring back memories, same applies to music, or for that matter any comparable visual/audio/sensory inputs. So, spend enough years listening to heavy metal, and overlap those very same years with motorcycle rides, odds of them converging increases. Basically certain riffs are now for time travel, to some motorcycling experience! Listening to opening riffs of Bleak rewinds time back to that 2:00 AM lonely highway ride, actually journeying to this small college town for seeing Opeth live. Jazz-fusion like bass lines in Surface’s Echoes brings back late autumn rides, and glimpses of peninsula sunsets. Honeycomb is a lot about early summers, exploring forts around Port Townsend. Frankly, it’s not an exhaustive list; somehow these experiences got overlaid in memory. One begets the other. But, this is not intentional and they don’t happen all the time.
Often such recurring patterns motivate study of the underlying cause. Seems like modern scientific mentality was to discover these underlying causes, theorize and apply them in multiple diverse contexts. For instance, inferring Pythagoras theorem from a triangle of particular dimension is a simple such example. To paraphrase Louis Rougier, it’s a mentality to move from specific to the abstract. This idea seems relevant in every sphere.
For instance, moving from specific rules to abstract rule of law is an illustration of same concept. Instead of directing everyone to specific duties, we enabled a framework to exercise free will. Instead of celebrating good rulers, we started seeking good laws. Movement from Magna Carta to American federalism is sort of that steady evolution from specific to the abstract. In fact, seems like Federalism adds one more layer to that dispersed rule-of-law framework within multiple states, sort of higher level instrument to institutionalize development of good laws even across the states. In that spirit, if we see legislation with specific directives assigning us tasks, it’s safe to say they are primitive artifacts in an otherwise sophisticated system.
Chattanooga, TN proggers Glass Hammer are set to release the second installment of the Skallagrim Trilogy: Into the Breach. It is an eagerly awaited work, and I am happy to report that it exceeds expectations. If you thought last year’s Dreaming City was a departure from their typical sound, Into the Breach further develops their new, heavier approach to their music.
Besides the obvious elements like super heavy, crunchy guitars, new lead vocalist Hannah Pryor rocks like a …. well, you can fill in the blank. Suffice it to say that Ms. Pryor can belt out a song with the best of them, while maintaining a purity of tone that is never grating.
The lyrics continue the adventures of the jewel thief Skallagrim, this time focusing on his mercenary adventuring as he battles to lift a curse and restore his memory. He is accompanied by his comrade in arms, Hartbert, and they are financed by a mysterious powerbroker, Erling. However, you don’t need to know the story to enjoy the music.
And what glorious music Into the Breach is! It begins with the short acoustic ballad, “He’s Got A Girl”, that segues directly into the roaring “Anthem to Andorath”. This one took my breath away when I first heard it (check out the official video below). Pryor’s vocals intertwine effortlessly with Babb’s and Schendel’s to an exhilarating climax.
The musical pummeling doesn’t let up with “Sellsword” which opens with the dirtiest guitar riff Glass Hammer has ever put to tape. Maybe they’re unleashing pandemic-spawned frustrations, but Steve Babb, Fred Schendel, and Aaron Raulston have never played with this much ferocity.
“Steel” alternates between crushing riffs and bouncy flights of Rundgrenesque popcraft. Pryor’s powerful vocals are the glue that hold all the disparate parts together.
The next two tracks, “Moon Pool” and “The Dark” are instrumentals. “Moon Pool” recalls classic Tangerine Dream, continuing the trend Glass Hammer began in Dreaming City.
“The Ogre of Archon” is another winning hard rock song, which goes directly into the blistering title track. There is an excellent section where Babb’s bass and Schendel’s organ play off of each other as Reese Boyd (or Brian Brewer, it’s not credited) plays terrific solos worthy of Alex Lifeson.
To my mind, the next three songs form a mini-trilogy. “The Forlorn Hope” is one of the best songs on the album, and it offers a bit of a respite from the heavy atmosphere of the rest of the album. “The Writing On The Wall” combines Crimsonesque melodic runs with some more spacey sections that allow Babb’s always inventive bass playing to shine. “Hyperborea” is an almost ten-minute long tour de force that is the finest track on the album, and one of the best songs Glass Hammer has ever done. It is a loving tribute to classic Rush, which in true Glass Hammer fashion, deftly pays their respects without descending into mere imitation.
The album closes with the brief “Bright Sword” which sets the scene for the conclusion of the Skallagrim Trilogy, and leaves the listener begging for more. Into the Breach clocks in at a hefty 70+ minutes, but I’ve listened to it in its entirety a dozen times, and it never feels labored or long. Every note counts, and every second is an aural pleasure.
After nearly 30 years and more than 20 albums, most artists would be exhausted. With Into the Breach, Glass Hammer are playing as if someone has lit a fire under them; this music is some of the most passionate they’ve ever put together. Their ability to constantly challenge themselves and revitalize their sound makes them the most fascinating and satisfying rock band in America. Meanwhile, Skallagrim – Into the Breach consolidates the great leap forward Glass Hammer took with Dreaming City. It is the heaviest yet most graceful music they have recorded in their long career. It is an unalloyed triumph that leaves the listener eagerly awaiting Chapter Three.