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Silhouette - Beyond The Seventh Wave CD (album) cover

BEYOND THE SEVENTH WAVE

Silhouette

 

Neo-Prog

3.80 | 78 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

tszirmay
Special Collaborator
Crossover Team
4 stars Imagine killer guitar riffs like vintage Saga, fueled by a supple keyboard wizard and a steely tight rhythm section that spares no prisoners. Sounds pretty promising, no? Well, that's what you get with Dutch band Silhouette, whose previous work 'Across the Rubicon' was a critical success, on their new recording 'Beyond the Seventh Wave'. What made its predecessor so attractive was the incorporation all the ingredients above into a song writing ethic that produced some entertaining neo-prog, flexible yet muscular, agile and attractive. This hard act to follow syndrome is sometimes fraught with dangers of exaggerated expectations but that only makes it easier to analyze in proper context, and only if you truly enjoy their style.

Erik Laan is the name of the ivory tickler and he profoundly impacts the dense sound that can be delicately romantic only minute with precious piano colorations and darn right snarling with fiery organ and synth barrages the next. Legendary Dutch keyboardist Ton Scherpenzeel (Camel, Kayak) is given a cameo opportunity, so needless to say there are plenty of symphonics here. The ballistic guitars are split between lead vocalist Brian de Graeve and newbie Daniel van der Weijde, giving plenty of meat and flesh to the arrangements, while the propellant tandem of bassist Gerrit-Jan Bloemink and phenomenal new recruit Rob van Nieuwenhuijzen on the drums, provide added acceleration.

The material is perhaps not as strong as on the previous masterpiece but there are some expressive mini-epics presented here, such as the 2 part 'Web of Lies' (14 and a half minutes of bliss), the tremendous 10 minute + 'Lost Paradise', the disturbing 'Devil's Island' and the title track. Toss in some exciting snippets and a flabbergasting instrumental 'Escape' and you finish off having a wholly acceptable segue album to an unassailable previous gem.

The grandiloquent 'Web of Lies part 1' kicks off with a muscular disposition, a memorable chorus within a thumping melody, tortured by a Saga-like instrumental platform for soloing, Laan in particular doing some serious damage on the warbled synthesizers, while the dual guitars assist in the assault, vaulting a tricky solo to boot. Part 2 alters the mood by introducing some lovely cello amid acoustic guitar adornments, massed mellotrons adding fuel to the impending fire, as the mighty drums roll on like some cannonade, urging even more desperation in the vocals. Very entertaining epic, hovering near fellow Dutchman Ayreon territory. The elegant piano outro is sublime.

'In Solitary' is a piano-led beauty, typical of the neo-prog school of delicate balladry, garnished with some illuminating electric guitar passages, celestial flute and romantic vocalizing. Both Laan and De Graeve handle the lead vocals, though I personally prefer the latter's more passionate delivery. As with Rubicon, I feel De Graeve should be the main (if not only) lead lung but that is not my call to make. Great simple tune. The entirely instrumental 'Escape' is a bruising monster, explosive drums, reverberating bass and simply titanic guitar and keyboard interventions make this a sizzling intermezzo. Van der Weijde throttles his guitar with manic abandon, Laan screeches on his synths like a modern day Manfred Mann, yes it's heavy and powerful and I like it!

The 10 minute + 'Lost Paradise' smoothly entrances the bedazzled listener with lovely Spanish guitar, the velvety vocals seem only to be inspired to aim for some distant utopia, 'dreaming of running away'. A luminous e-guitar slithers into the gentle fray, soon to be joined by a mellifluous synth foray. This little exchange goes on, like two lovers intertwined, impervious to any set of pre-determined rules. The mood actually increases in modulation, so as to almost become a cry in the night. Things get pretty perspiring, as the howling guitar rages into the deeper horizons, trembling and sizzling with little restraint. A churlish organ creeps in, spookier than Dracula's teeth, you just gotta admire the sweeping beauty of it all. Sweeping beauty? It's time for a kiss!

'Betrayed Again' is so overtly Genesis, you can only smile in admiration. A sweeping keyboard melodrama that serves only to announce the next epic, the majestic 'Devil's Island'. Inspired by the infernal penal colony in French Guiana and the book and movie Papillon by Henri Charriere , 'Le bagne de Cayenne' was an Alcatraz-like prison of hopelessness and despair, nowhere to escape to, just resignation and eventual miserable death. Typical prog subject matter, all that would be missing is a reference to Alfred Dreyfus, the most illustrious prisoner. As such, the music is dense like the Guyanese jungle, sweltering and pervasive, with hopeful reprieve coming with its ultimate demise in 1953.

The title track is a rambling affair, pretty aptly defining this crafty Dutch band style, namely a bright, crisp and exalted take on neo-prog, nothing lame or by the numbers. This piece in particular navigates the two extremes quite well, voyaging between sweet and wild, turning on a dime if required. Brian de Graeve shines on lead vocals, his high-pitched voice exemplifying the passion within his soul, contrary to what previous reviewers have stated, I do not find his voice 'forced' but I will admit that Erik Laan's can be a bit pushy on occasion.

'Wings to Fly' ends this fine affair, an intense cry for freedom and liberty, well-performed and loaded with passionate detail. Violin and cello provide coloring to an urgent and imperative chorus, a classy bit of entertaining music.

A perfectly acceptable follow-up to Across the Rubicon, great artwork, production and a well-paced set list of fine neo-progressive nuggets.

4 surfing shadows

tszirmay | 4/5 |

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