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Sylvan - One to Zero CD (album) cover





4.06 | 164 ratings

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4 stars One To Zero is German outfit Sylvan's 10th studio album, and there has been a gap of six years since the last opus, Home.

On this, we return to the world of concept albums, and the concept in this intelligent work is that of a story dealing with the birth, life, movement to self-realisation, and ultimate demise of an artificial intelligence, although the demise is somewhat open to question, as I shall relate.

A grand concept, then, and Sylvan do here what they do best, that is translating such a concept into a work which is at turns thoughtful, grandiose, theatrical, and never, ever, dull. This album, as with most works by the band, does require a bit of patient listening over a period of time in order to finally "get it" and appreciate it fully, but that is time extremely well spent.

The band have always been magnificent in creating moods, and changing these at the drop of a note in order to push the story across to the listener, and this is no exception. Within the core story of the AI entity there is just as much a commentary on the one species responsible for the potential ruin of our lovely world, namely one Homo Sapiens.

At its heart, a lot of the music and delivery here is very much on the melodic spectrum of progressive rock, but the band do then create numerous crescendos and symphonic roars that simply take your breath away. Following the overture of the opener, Bit By Bit, we have the birth sequence of Encoded At Heart which has a melancholic start, but slowly, but surely, builds into a choral magnificence, and then features an achingly beautiful guitar solo by the marvellous guest Jonathan Beck, who shines throughout.

The infant stage, Start of Your Life is an extremely catchy ditty. Unleashed Power is simply a wonderful melodic tour de force, with some lovely Gluhmann vocals set over guitar and chorus. There are some orchestral strings setting the tone on Trust in Yourself, before similar moods on the exceptional journey of discovery which is On My Odyssey build into a wonderful vocal chorus underpinned by strings, guitar, and piano, one which simply takes one's breath away.

World's Apart is an extremely intelligent and knowing piece of music in which the dream of coexistence is blown away by the realisation that creators and created simply do not share the same worldview. This segues into Go Viral, a far heavier piece of music, although featuring again the most lovely guitar solo, which very aptly provides us with the final break of the AI with its human surrounded world, and the mood is very aptly set for the closer, Not A Goodbye, which is the death scene, self-inflicted, although the final couple of seconds of the track which follow a long silence as the main piece fades suggests that this is, indeed, not a goodbye. This closes the album perfectly, with a cornucopia of moods and instrumentals backing the emotive vocalist.

This album is Sylvan at their very best, an emotional journey which tells an intelligent story in a manner which takes you with them. As ever with this band, once you invest your time and energy with theirs, you are left very much satisfied at the outcome of said investment.

An excellent album, which is very highly recommended for those who simply love being carried away with the mood.

lazland | 4/5 |


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