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Sylvan - One to Zero CD (album) cover





4.06 | 164 ratings

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3 stars Firstly I'd not listened to Sylvan before trying this album. I'd not even heard a song. I had just seen the name mentioned across the usually prog rock forums and websites and thought I should give it a go.

I have to admit I often struggle with modern progressive rock and tend to lean more towards the classic prog of the 70s so I am making a concerted effort to give these current acts a chance and have them change my mind. This album being the first of a few I am going to review. I am pretty useless at reviewing but I needed to find something to do and I'm always critiquing/discussing music with family and friends and thought I'd give it a go. I must add that I will listen to an album a minimum of 5 times to give a fair review (A must for progressive music in my view).

So Sylvan are a German progressive rock band that supposedly show influences of Pink Floyd, Marillion and Genesis according to Wikipedia. Sounded right up my street from the outset.

The bands German roots come across strong with the accent on the vocals. A nice voice, although I have to say personally I struggle with most of these European bands and the accents. But that is just me and I can appreciate this will not be an issue for most.

The album has a running time of around 65 minutes and is a concept album. Apparently not their first concept album. I shall have to explore. I have read that this album is "an autobiography of an artificial intelligence born into the problems facing contemporary society." I can't say I picked that up from listening but I'm am definitely a sucker more for the music than the lyrics, so no surprises there.

The first track "Bit by bit" is great. I'm hearing a touch of early Riverside here and each member of the band is given a chance to show what they can do. About 5mins in there is a cool, dark metal riff which I love. I nice tune and sets the tone for the album nicely.

A beautiful slow piano part starts the second track with the track building all the way to the end. The highlight of the track being when the guitar guitar solo kicks in around the 5min mark. The vocal choirlike chants are very catchy here, especially after a couple of listens.

On to track 3, "Start of Your Life". I can't say I love this track. It has a more pop like vibe. The intro guitar riff doesn't quite do it for me although the riff itself is ok, I think the production may be the problem here in that its taken the raw guitar driven sound away from the riff and I have to say I'm not as big a fan of this particular track.

So onto track 4 "Unleashed Power". The start of the track certainly doesn't appear to match the title of the track from the outset. The title gives the impression of a more heavy technical number, but here we have a very mellow piano driven song and it remains that way throughout the whole 7 and a half minutes. Nothing wrong with it though. Some lovely clean guitar soloing tones and licks in there. A solid track.

Trust in Yourself. More of a heavy edge to parts of this track. This track has a beautiful break down later in the song with a lovely violin part. There's great wacky and interesting sounding guitar solo towards the end of the track which is probably the first time I found anything different/unique about Sylvan's sound. I just wish they had made the solo a little longer and maybe had seen the track out with it.

On My Odyssee. Some super cool guitar playing on this track. Probably my favourite on the album. I love the way the guitar soloing sees out this track. Again, very early Riverside. Its a shame this style of guitar playing isn't used more throughout the album, although I must say it probably makes you enjoy it more when it actually comes in.

Part Of Me. Another slow starter. Very nice orchestration here and probably the best guitar solo on the album. Great guitar tone and the atmosphere is spot on.

'Go Viral' is a much appreciated change from the usual piano intro. About 3mins in we get to a nice heavy metal-like guitar riff/instrumental section which I enjoy very much every time I listen to the album. Here you get a cool synth solo again, similar to that in the opening track. I like this track very much.

'Not a Goodbye', another slow starter, this time not piano, but some delicate guitar picking. Pleasant enough. But the highlight of this track again has got to be the guitar soloing toward the end of the track. The album ending as it begins with an unearthly like space sound.

All in all this album is a good album. Not one that has changed my mind on modern prog though. Its an album I will for sure listen to again but I cannot rate higher than a 3 stars. This album cannot be put in with the classic albums such as "Selling England by the Pound" or "Thick as a Brick", so not a masterpiece at all. And for me I wouldn't quite put it in the 'excellent additions' either. So 'Good' but not essential seems a fitting place for this album. Possibly a down side to the album is the way most of the songs can be very similar in how they are constructed. Slow piano intros, mostly mellow with a build up the end. I also find modern progressive rock, can often sound like it wouldn't be out of place on the Eurovision song contest. Now, that could just be down the the European accents maybe. And in parts this album has that sound for me.

I have to say I hear nothing that really resembles Pink Floyd or Genesis here. But I can may be hear a bit of Marillion in there, particularly in the guitar soloing. The highlight of this album is clearly the guitar work for me. Like I said earlier, I really am a music over vocals kind of guy and I appreciate I haven't mentioned vocals on this album very much. I want to add, the vocals do their job without ever standing out. This meaning they also don't stand out in a bad way either which is a positive as prog vocalists can often fall short for me.

A decent effort. I shall listen through their back catalogue for sure.

FredStock | 3/5 |


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