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5 stars Certainly destined to be one of the finest live efforts of the year, Leaving Backstage hovers on the edge of neo progressive and progressive metal. The production is top notch with crystal clear sound. The symphonic parts are majestic and the hard edge parts truly rock. The vocals are just the right intensity to tie it all together. The bass line is very nice. This production is true gestalt, no instrument really outdoing, everything on time, in place. My personal favorite song is Pane of Truth'. Great live album, indeed.
Report this review (#179769)
Posted Sunday, August 17, 2008 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Fans of Sylvan are given good value for money on this live double CD.

The first CD contains a live performance of the entire Posthumous Silence album, a haunting and memorable album when it was released and just as haunting - or perhaps even slightly better, in a live setting. Big synths and haunting emotional vocals are still key ingredients, perhaps dominating a tad more in the live setting.

The second CD contains songs from the early days of Sylvan up until latest studio album Presets. For the most part, these tunes, at least in a live setting, are more similar in style to 80's symphonic rock in general and Marillion in particular - and generally lacks the emotional impact of the tunes from the first disc on the set. Good performance though, and for fans of this outfit this second disc contains many of their favorite tunes by the band. Personally I was less impressed by these compositions though, with the tunes from Preset as well as the amazing epic tune Artificial Paradise as standout tunes.

Overall this is a good presentation of Sylvan as a band, the quality of the recordings as well as the performance is top notch, and overall this is a very good live release. Fans of the band will obviously have an interest in this one, but people into the so called neo symphonic rock genre should also get much joy from this one.

Report this review (#181688)
Posted Thursday, September 4, 2008 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Moody, ambient, atmospheric... and it's really excellent!

I actually had been playing this live set for quite sometime ago after so long I had never played the music of this band. I notice this band underwent dramatic change in their music style when they released 'Artificial Paradise' in 2002. It's totally different with their 'Encounters' album (2000) which I like it very much and represents my first introduction to the band. I felt in love with the opening track 'No Way Out' which showcase one of the best neo-prog song with killing riffs and powerful melody. When I got this double CD live set the first impression was that the music they played live represent their style of later music from 'Artificial Paradise' onwards even though there were some nuances of previous music.

The first disc captures the performance of the Posthumous Silence concept album in its entirety, while the second disc is basically the 'best of' collection of live renditions taken from the band's albums released between 2000 and 2007. The band is quite aware that their debut album 'Deliverance' is not worth being featured here. Talking about disc 2 it represents a good introduction to those of you who have not been familiar with Sylvan. Unfortunately there is no 'No Way Out' from 'Encounters' album. I cannot imagine how this wonderful track performed live.

I consider the first disc as a great performance of their concept album 'Posthumous Silence' where fans of early Marillion and Radiohead (?) would love to enjoy it. It opens with a great live vibes in a moody and atmospheric 'Eternity Ends' (2:54) which reminds me to the opening of Pink Floyd's 'Pulse' through 'Shine on You Crazy Diamond'. But instead of using bluesy guitar, this song uses atmospheric female choirs. It's really great and it sets the overall tone of the concert. The piano intro of 'Bequest of Tears' (3:05) and vocal work of Marco Glühmann reminds me to the opening concert of Peter Gabriel with his 'Here Comes The Flood' using his piano. It's a great opening, really! The basslines remarks the entrance of 'In Chains' (8:55) where the music flows in upbeat mote with nice and soft guitar riffs. This is an excellent track!

The performance of disc one represents great flow of music with excellent combination of keyboard and guitar work accompanying great vocal line. Track like 'Pane of Truth' (9:14) is really worth enjoying especially with its emotive style, great accentuation in vocal and tight basslines. The interlude sections of the music are also excellent. You can enjoy wonderful keyboard and guitar work in 'Questions' (6:58) for example. I find this disc one is enjoyable from start to finish until closing track 'Posthumous Silence' (5:38).

Disc 2 starts with a song from X-Rayed album called 'Lost' (7:32) in which the music is energetic that reminds to Encounters album. The combined work of vocal, drums, keyboard and bass is really wonderful. You can find the interlude section is wonderful where the guitar lays rhythm section combined with dynamic basslines that feature the keyboard solo. Oh man ?it's really wonderful! 'That's Why It Hurts' (7:10) from 'Artificial Paradise' follows wonderfully in the same quality as previous track in terms of performance. The band returns back to X-Rayed album with its 'So Easy' (8:19) ? another excellent song with excellent performance. You can find guitar solo in the vein of Marillion's Steve Rothery. All remaining tracks are performed excellently by the band.

Overall, this is an excellent live set that would satisfy wider audience, not only those who love neo-prog like Marillion because it's quite easy to digest the music. The other thing I need to mention is the excellent audio quality of this CD. I recommend this album to Sylvan fans or other progressive music fans. You can try disc 2 as this is the best of Sylvan. Keep on proggin' ..!

Peace on earth and mercy mild - GW

Report this review (#223437)
Posted Saturday, June 27, 2009 | Review Permalink
4 stars I discovered this band over a year ago on Youtube and based on what I saw of their live set, recorded at Kampnagel, I bought the double live CD "Leaving Backstage". I played it quite a bit when I first got it. Lately I've been playing it again and I've come to the conclusion that this is one of the best purchases I've ever made.

With a mix of metal with prog with pop, Sylvan makes some fine music which is very easy to listen to but it also offers something more raw and profound.

CD 1 - The "Posthumous Silence" live cd is an excellent album. I haven't heard the studio version but it is obvious that the concept is well thought out and very well executed in the live recording. It's difficult to pick out individual highlights because the entire album is a complete package. However, a few songs that are worthy of an extra mention are Pane of Truth, Forgotten Virtue, Questions, The Colours Changed and Posthumous Silence.

CD 2 - This is a compilation of nine songs from Sylvan's previous studio albums. Again all are excellent and I'm getting to know them a bit better. While I particularly like This World Is Not For Me, the outstanding epic here is the magnificent Artificial Paradise.

Since the mid 1970's I've been a fan of Genesis, Yes, Wishbone Ash, Pink Floyd, Clapton, Rory Gallagher etc. and I have been lucky to see them all live. More recently I'm listening to IQ, Big Big Train, Tinyfish and Porcupine Tree (who I also saw live in Dublin last October). In my opinion Sylvan sits easily beside all of these.

The sound quality on this double live cd is perfect and I have no complaints. I'd recommend it as an ideal addition to any cd collection.

Report this review (#495581)
Posted Tuesday, August 2, 2011 | Review Permalink

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