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Sylvan - Artificial Paradise CD (album) cover





3.87 | 177 ratings

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Prog Metal and Heavy Prog Teams
3 stars Are we all animals of greed?

Sylvan are wondering, in their Artificial Paradise, about the greediness of our world and the quality of our modern lives and interpersonal relationships. The stories lay on a mid-tempo, mainstream neo-prog background, polished with good production and well-worked sound effects. Sylvan seem primarily influenced by late Marillion and Arena, often balancing between neo- and crossover-prog. Since there are many controversial issues in my head arising from this effort, I will try to give my perception of the album with pros and cons, highlighting the advantages and disadvantages.

Pros: No big effort is needed to identify the excellent voice of Marco Gluhmann, who dresses this album with melancholic, clever and adventurous tunes from time to time. His solid performance is the strongest asset of the record. The production is neat, very clean and polished, promoting the modern sound that Sylvan are trying to give, especially in acoustic guitars and pianos, the major characteristics of their music. A great opening (Deep Inside) that introduces melody and prepares for a brilliant sequel is another strong point, so is the ending (Artificial Paradise), which although it's nothing special, it leaves a pleasant 'taste', being the most inspired and 'proggish' piece of music, with many ideas blended together and some adventurous rhythm changes. Generally, there is a solid structure in every song, and it flows relatively well from one track to another.

Cons: Apart from the beginning and ending of the album, there is also a middle-part (surprise!) that has either disappointed me or left me indifferent in many ways. The approach is very mainstream at several points, making the album sound too 'simple' and sometimes boring. Some tracks seem to last too long (most of them being around 8 min.), and that would not be a disadvantage if they were complex, with many alterations etc.; but they're not. In my opinion, there are no sufficient (both in terms of quality and quantity) progressive and innovative ideas to make a 70 min. (!) record. The lyrics are decent, match well with the music, but sometimes sound too plain. The weakest track is Strange Emotion, which ruins (but only for a while) the pleasant atmosphere.

Highlights: Despite the disadvantages, there are many strong and 'catchy' melodies, primarily in the first two tracks (Deep Inside and That's Why it Hurts), and some good prog moments in the ending song (title track). Another track that stands out - in my opinion - is Around the World, where the first real innovative ideas appear through jazzy forms and the effective blending of guitars and piano.

Sylvan probably have all the abilities to produce an excellent record, but, definitely, this is not the one. This can be very pleasant to friends of progressive music, but not essential. Maybe next time.

aapatsos | 3/5 |


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