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Sylvan - Presets CD (album) cover

PRESETS

Sylvan

 

Neo-Prog

3.52 | 168 ratings

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E-Dub
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Hot on the heels of their 2006 concept album Posthumous Silence, Sylvan come out in 2007 with it's twin disc entitled Presets. Pretty fair to assume that Sylvan are heavily influenced by not only the older prog bands, but take a lot of today's modern rock and incorporates it with their own brand of neo prog. For the most part, it's a formula that works, but falls short on Presets.

The album begins with the very atmospheric "One Step Beyond". Very lush and well produced with a 'smooth as silk' approach. Nice album opener that leads right to "Signed Away". Again, we hear that modern rock sound that's reminiscent of Collective Soul or Live, with a Edge like guitar sound. Whatever they're doing, it's successful and the nice production makes it for pleasant listening. It's neo prog that has a bit of a bite to it, which is something Satellite could do on their next album. Nice vocals by Marco Glühmann, who really shines on this disc.

"For One Day" has sounds a little like a tune from the 80's and has more characteristics of a new wave song or an early U2 (even bassist Sebastian Harnack sounds like Adam Clayton) or Ultravox song rather than prog. I'm not really put off by it as it's nice qualities. Fortunately, this disc isn't full of songs like this, which may drag it down if overdone.

"Former Life" begins with a driving drum beat and a Cure-esque guitar riff. A good track, but after this and "For One Day", you're awaiting the band to really break loose. Especially drummer Matthias Harder, who has impressed me greatly from previous efforts. Again, good song, but nothing too memorable.

"On The Verge Of Tires" embodies (some of) the elements that I've come to enjoy with Sylvan. Empassioned lyrics and vocals with nice atmospheric keys. "When The Leaves Fall Down" take on (once again) an 80's new wave feel, much like "For One Day". We're halfway through Presets and it's pretty clear that the first part of Presets rests some of the prog tendencies, and focuses rather on shorter and melodic.

With only voice and piano, "Words For Another Day" take on a very intimate and melancholic tone. A nice way to break up a prog disc, if only Presets had prog characteristics aside from the first song. "Cold Sun" on the other hand, see a return to older Sylvan and sounds like something that could've worked on Posthumous Silence. Very good song with absolutely beautiful lyrics and vocals.

U2 influence another song with "Hypnotized", complete with searing guitar riffs. I can't help but like the song; but, see another diversion from the progressive side of Sylvan. The guitars are so Edge like that it sounds like a song that could've been on How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb.

OK, not being a prog snob, I do like the songs from Presets. "Heal" is a perfect example why I like this disc. Nothing flashy and progressive about it, but I love the delivery of the vocals, which seem to have really matured on the past couple of discs by Sylvan. Again, don't expect prog, but a pleasant song in it's own right.

Presets closes with "Transitory Times" and the title track. While we're still awaiting some prog, Sylvan finally deliver with "Presets". The longest track by far at a little over 12 1/2 minutes, the song builds from a pretty modest beginning, transitions with some nice drumming, to an absolute glorious chorus. After another visit to the chorus, the band finally strips down and progs out. Nice drumming that is intricate and smooth, with the band changing up signatures. The song closes with beautiful musicianship, production and a choral accompaniment that gives you chills. Presets is literally saved by the title track.

If only they had approached Presets as they did the first and last song, then I'd love to give it a higher rating. They seem to be holding back until the final song, which is a shame. This band is wildly talented and I can appreciate how they've taken modern elements and married them with old neo from early Marillion and IQ. That philosophy is missing from Presets. If you're wanting to introduce yourself to this band, maybe start with Artifcial Paradise or Posthumous Silence. This is a good addition to any music collection, but maybe not to a prog collection. 2.75-3 Stars. I wish it could be more according to prog standards.

E-Dub | 3/5 |

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