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Nad Sylvan - The Bride Said No CD (album) cover


Nad Sylvan


Crossover Prog

3.86 | 156 ratings

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4 stars Nad Sylvan is of course the latest incarnation of the archangel Gabriel, providing a myriad of prog bands the ability to step up to the microphone and sing. To be fair though, his original voice is way more nasal and high-pitched than either Peter or Phil, so please, lets us forego the usual copycat platitudes, as it's simply not true. 'The Bride Said No' is his 5th solo album and quite possibly his best yet, garnering worldwide praise for his efforts. A cooperative effort between Nad and a slew of good friends to help, as some of the prog royalty deigned to show up on the menu. Steve Hackett, Roine Stolt and Guthrie Govan are among the top guitarists in rock period. Some interesting pairings on the rhythmic side with Tony Levin and Doane Perry on one set of tracks and Jonas Reingold bonding with Nick D'Virgilio on another series of pieces . These tandems do not get any better!

After a brief sonic intro, the whistling 'The Quartermaster' lays down the mood quite effectively, a modern prog ditty with thrash rhythms and a hard ass demeanor. Jonas carves the low end, Nick bashes persuasively and Nad sings his heart out, aided by some siren vocals from the ladies. Shimmer, shake and shambles, this is a rowdy adventure that owes a great deal to classic prog stories, flushed by some strident synth colorations.

A mammoth track like 'When the Music Dies' will win anyone over with the sheer magnificence of the melancholic melody, the glorious chorus and the intricate buildup to both. Nad's vocal delivery is not only deeply heartfelt but it's also overpoweringly impressive. Levin and Perry really do the modern rhythm tandem rather well, pulsating forward with glee. I love the similitude to the Bond theme of 'You Only Live Twice', a perfect melody and a genial arching chorus. This my friends, is the real deal. Killer!

More upbeat and very 'Genesisian' is 'The White Crown' with Reingold and D'Virgilio leading the process, involving some spooky synth passages, a high-pitched duet develops between Nad (who can hit the high notes) and backing female vocalist Sheona Urquhart, a very convincing piece of complexity.

On the sultry ballad 'What Have you Done', Nad tells quite the sweet story, trading vocals with Jade Ell and luxuriating in the breeze, sliced open by a long passionate Hackett solo followed by a patented Govan scorcher that smolders like phosphorus. This is another timeless piece of brilliance that cannot and should not escape awareness.

Another nugget is the bold and convincing 'Crime of Passion', with Roine Stolt conducting the proceedings with his slippery guitar rants, Jonas and Nick propelling resolutely and monstrous symphonic keys icing the cake. The orchestrations add a dramatic dimension to the arrangement that elevates it from its rather humble origins. Hackett makes another cameo as only he can, immediately identifiable and mesmerizing.

Tony Levin proves again why he remains the master of the 'basso profundo' (a live quote from the Gabe), manhandling the electric bass as well as the Chapman stick with genial bravado on the romantic and cinematographic 'A French Kiss in an Italian Caf'. Allied with splendid backing vocals from Urquhart and Ell, sliced by some more Hackett , Nad overflows with bittersweet ''l'gance' and 'amore', deliberately emoting on the highest plane. Urquhart blasts a very Roxy Music-ish sax solo to finish off.

The title track is the epic 12 minute+ cliff-hanger that infuses drama and vocal gymnastics from three busy lead vocalists (Nad, Jade and Tania Doko), thus performing a mini-opera of sorts with a story of unfulfilled love and the yearning for freedom. While highly progressive and theatrical, there is a soulful feel that is immediately apparent, not just in the vocal mannerisms but also in the sensual musical instrumentation, that span the slick and sultry to the bombastic and delirious. The instrumental proficiency on display here is ridiculous, by any standard, Jonas in particular proving his reputation as a maestro of the bass guitar. The dynamic storytelling is compelling and convincing, forcing Hackett to blast a tortuous solo off into the stratosphere. Great imagery, fabulous words and a dramatic delivery wins me over immediately, as the white crown makes a reappearance in the lyrics. Slick dude, you are Nad. You go, guy! The mid-section is distinguished by a wailing aria from Tania that will shake your universe, soulfully emotive and overpoweringly impressive. The bride then says no, which leads to a 2 minute silence and a hidden 5 minute bonus track called 'Black Sheep'.

A very entertaining release from an artist that I admired from afar but did not really comprehend. I do now. He is not just another pretty face or a musical box. He is Nad Sylvan.

4 dead rings

tszirmay | 4/5 |


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