Header
Sylvan - Sceneries CD (album) cover

SCENERIES

Sylvan

Neo-Prog


From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Bookmark and Share
Conor Fynes
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars 'Sceneries' - Sylvan (5/10)

What better way to start off 2012 than with a double album, right? In any case, Sylvan is a band who have reached my ears long before this New Year's day, but I would be safe in assuming that there are people reading this who are much more familiar with the band's work than I. I can safely declare however that Sylvan have attained a status of recognition within the 'neo-prog' community, and for good reason; their highly melodic take on progressive rock has been historically beautiful and passionate. 'Sceneries' is very much an album that caters to the existing fan of the band. As a hour-and-a-half monster of music to digest, few newcomers will have the patience to sit through such a length of music that- despite some areas of strength- does not appear to warrant being so long.

The music on 'Sceneries' might be described as being somewhat post-rockish in nature. The musicianship is brooding and dark, with the instruments focusing on raising an atmosphere while the melodies are left to the vocals of Marco Glühmann. Kept at a painfully consistent mid-tempo throughout the album, each of these five 'epic' tracks sees the band wander through a slew of oddly similar ideas, sometimes contrasting in terms of relative 'heaviness', but throughout 'Sceneries', there is little sense of variety or dynamic. Especially considering that a cinematic album length would wear thin with all but the most diverse and profound albums, 'Sceneries' feels bogged down by its overindulgent length, rather than enabled by it. As I would say for the majority of double albums, the same message could have been conveyed in half the time.

The strength of the songwriting lies mainly in the arrangements and orchestrations of the music, which are intelligent enough to keep a listener attentive, although all of the ideas are kept within the same narrow band of mid-tempo brooding mellowness. Few exceptions are allowed, and as a result, none of these epics particularly stand out from each other. The musical highlight that 'Sceneries' offers is likely the charming string section that's brought in to emphasize what are apparently the emotional 'climaxes' of the compositions. That term must be used lightly here however, because there is little sense of a rising action throughout this. Despite being given more than enough time to ferment the ideas into dramatic builds, the dynamic stays fairly constant and regular throughout 'Sceneries', and as a result, Sylvan come across as much less of a moving act than they have been in the past.

MEMBERS LOGIN ZONE

As a registered member (register here if not), you can post rating/reviews (& edit later), comments reviews and submit new albums.

You are not logged, please complete authentication before continuing (use forum credentials).

Send comments to Conor Fynes (BETA) | Report this review (#601270)
Posted Monday, January 02, 2012 | Review Permalink
5 stars I am listening to the final chapter of Sceneries and WOW what an album . I never thought they would surpass Posthumous Silence but they just did .

This story needed to be told on two disc and let me tell you no fillers here. The voice is spot on , the arrangement wonderful, the quiet moments are hair raising, the powerful moments and the symphonic one are.... well pure Sylvan's .

5 stars and worth every one of them. To bad we won't have a chance to see the tour in support of this masterpiece on our shores Canada that is.

MEMBERS LOGIN ZONE

As a registered member (register here if not), you can post rating/reviews (& edit later), comments reviews and submit new albums.

You are not logged, please complete authentication before continuing (use forum credentials).

Send comments to prog4ever (BETA) | Report this review (#626586)
Posted Saturday, February 04, 2012 | Review Permalink
5 stars With a back catalogue including amazing albums such as Posthumous Silence and Artificial Paradise Sylvan is a band for whom I have significant respect. I was therefore slightly disappointed with their last release "Force of Gravity". Thus, I thought it unlikely they would return to the glorious heights of Posthumous Silence. I shouldn't have worried, Sceneries is a masterpiece.

Whilst Sceneries might not be the most immediately assessable of their albums, after a short while it has grown on me and grown significantly!

This is an album drenched in emotion. Split into five chapters, each has a distinct flavour and key elements running through them. Starting off with a very strong track, The fountain of Glow has some glorious guitar work, which ends far too soon. After Fountain the three chapters that follow grow in strength and intensity. The final track of Share the World brings Chapter 2 to a stunning conclusion. However Chapter 3 "Words You Hide" and Chapter 4 "Waters I Travelled" are my particular favourites with some lovely melodies and stunning vocals. If I had one criticism it would be that the final Chapter feels a little out of place and although it has strong songs, they don't reach the same height as those before.

Throughout this album the vocals are stunning and supported by excellent guitars, keyboards and drums. Lyrically Sylvan have never been stronger. I also love some of the string arrangement's which perfectly compliment the emotions running through the album.

The big question is whether this album surpasses PS and for me the jury is still out on that. However, for any Sylvan fan this purchase is an easy choice and I would heartily recommend the album to most prog fans.

Whilst it is still early in the year, it will take something exceptional to beat Sylvan's latest masterpiece.

MEMBERS LOGIN ZONE

As a registered member (register here if not), you can post rating/reviews (& edit later), comments reviews and submit new albums.

You are not logged, please complete authentication before continuing (use forum credentials).

Send comments to Skyperion (BETA) | Report this review (#629272)
Posted Thursday, February 09, 2012 | Review Permalink
3 stars Sylvan are perhaps the most enjoyable of all neo prog bands to me when they are firing on all cylinders. Posthumous Silence would in fact be a top 10 album of all time for me (definite 5 star). I am however left like a stunned mullet after listening to this record. I thought I would be losing it over this album but I feel like a bewildered 70's Yes fan being forced to sit through Tales from Topographic Oceans live without any preexposure, however in less of a positive sense of the experience.

I feel disappointed that this album hasn't lived up to my expectations but at present, all I can give this album is 3 stars. Listen to it for yourself but I find this veritable slab of music a bit high in caloric intake for this progressive appetite.

MEMBERS LOGIN ZONE

As a registered member (register here if not), you can post rating/reviews (& edit later), comments reviews and submit new albums.

You are not logged, please complete authentication before continuing (use forum credentials).

Send comments to ProgolateCookie (BETA) | Report this review (#649968)
Posted Wednesday, March 07, 2012 | Review Permalink
lazland
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars There are some bands for whom the phrase "the best album since" usually represents something of a kiss of death. The need of some critics and fans to relive a classic moment means that the later releases somehow never really hit the mark, simply because they are lost in comparison. The best example I can think of is AC/DC, who have been cursed with the "best since Back In Black" for every album over the last twenty years, or so.

This is the danger inherent for Sylvan, the hugely talented German outfit, for Posthumous Silence from 2006 is such a titan of an album, such a work of genius that, quite honestly, it really is impossible to think that they could ever scale such heights again. Thus, Presets & Force Of Gravity, both excellent albums in their own right, suffered a tad in comparison with that marvellous album.

And so to 2012, and Sylvan bring us a massive 90 minute slab of music in Sceneries. Unlike its famous predecessor, this is not a concept album, per se, but, rather, five individual pieces of music and musings each individually inspired by the five band members personal experiences or thoughts. At this point, I would point out that the lyrics are available as a free download on the band's website, and well worth it it is too.

I don't like it a great deal when a band spells out for me exactly what the lyrics mean. I like to place my own interpretation on what the lyrics might mean, and, more importantly, what they mean to me as an individual and as someone who has always tried to relate his most important music to personal experiences in life. Thankfully, in the interviews I have seen, the band have left it to the individual, to the extent that I still do not know which band member inspired which movement. Thus, what follows is my personal take on these lyrics.

The Fountain of Glow is, to me, an expression of love conquering all of the nasty, selfish, and greedy tendencies that abound in the world, and that love will, eventually conquer all. Sentiments that would lie well, I think, with Jon Anderson fans, and whilst the lyrics do not contain his "other world" expressions (some would regard that as a good thing), they are, to me, suitably poetical.

The second movement is Share The World With Me, a beautiful paeon to a lost friend (a very close friend) whilst exploring the incredible power and beauty that the planet has to offer, as experienced during a particularly intense walk.

The Words You Hide tells me of a story that is timeless in rock music, that of anger at the words spoken at a loved one, whilst then endlessly regretting the words never spoken, the latter, of course, being the ones you truly wished to speak.

Chapter Four is The Waters I Travelled, a rather nightmarish dreamscape portraying the power of the ocean, and its power to consume.

Lastly, we have Farewell To Old Friends, which, to me, are quite the most inspirational lyrics as a dedication to war, and the feelings it can bring, I have seen since Roger Waters at his peak. This is the story of how an old war veteran could inspire and bring hope to a younger man, in spite of all the horrors witnessed, and how, as a race, the light and a better way are there for us, if only we could take the chance. It is, in essence, a celebration of life itself.

There we go. Those are the musings of this particular reviewer. At this stage, most readers are probably thinking, "all very well, pal, but what about the bloody music?". Words, really, almost fail me. I cannot think of an album since Oldfield's Tubular Bells I & II where a piano, the simple piano, has been at the heart of all around it. And from such delicate keys, this band have woven a work which is just about as powerful and emotional as it is possible for an album to get.

Fans of Marco Gluhmann's ability to soar and drip the entire room with layers of emotion, in both his delicate, quiet, moments and his powerful cries (which put Ronnie James Dio at his loudest to shame) will not certainly not be disappointed. This is just about the most emotional and incredible vocal performance I have heard since, well.....Posthumous Silence. The conclusion of Share The World With Me, especially, simply has to be experienced in a very dark room, with the speakers turned up to the maximum, because this man's vocals, backed by the most incredible guitar work, combined with a wall of sound, are really quite astounding, and send shivers running down one's back.

Talking of a wall of sound, I think I have said before of the band that the only act I can compare them with in terms of being able to simply fill a large space with pure sound (and this includes the numerous passages where we have merely piano and vocals) is Genesis in their pomp. You know, albums such as Wind & Wuthering, where the feel and sound of the work was as important as the songs themselves. The only other modern act I can think of that come anywhere near are Pendragon in their finest moments (and fans of that great band will find much to love here).

This album veers from delicate, to downright heavy, with passages of the most incredible symphonic power that it is somewhat difficult to believe that it was created by five blokes, rather than a full orchestra.

So. To conclude. It is with utter certainty that I say that this album is Sylvan's finest since the remarkable Posthumous Silence (there, I said it!). Not only that, though, this is an album which simply has to be experienced in its own right and is such a powerful emotional experience that it leaves the listener incredulous and breathless, emotionally drained, at its conclusion.

For those who still think, in spite of fine releases in recent years by acts such as Pendragon, Pallas, Marillion, Edison's Children, and IQ especially, that all neo-prog is is a copy of classic prog acts, and a poor one at that, then think again. This is the sound of a modern progressive rock band absolutely at the top of their form. This is the sound of progressive rock in 2012, and delightful it is, too. Whilst its length will preclude you having it on every single day (unless you have a lot of spare time), it is one that you will return to time and time again, and one which demands to be listened to as a whole.

If you buy no other album in 2012, make sure it is this one. I can describe it as no less than an utter masterpiece. An incredible performance by an incredible band.

MEMBERS LOGIN ZONE

As a registered member (register here if not), you can post rating/reviews (& edit later), comments reviews and submit new albums.

You are not logged, please complete authentication before continuing (use forum credentials).

Send comments to lazland (BETA) | Report this review (#756080)
Posted Monday, May 21, 2012 | Review Permalink
5 stars I can only say that I enjoy this album. Each part can be enjoyed as a seperate song as I have found on my ipod on shuffle. Each song can be enjoyed as a whole without getting boring. There are no throw away sections which is rare for any album. I wonder if my taste in music has become a little stagnant and emotional lyrics have become my mainstay. All I can say is that this has become an easy and at times an epic listen depending on my mood. I hope that the new marillion album can achieve this standard in terms of layers and vocal performance.

This is surely where Sylvan should concentrate their creative flair. I did not enjoy artificial paradise or force of gravity but gained some insight into their potential with posthomous silence and moments of presets. I hope there will be more of this in the future.

MEMBERS LOGIN ZONE

As a registered member (register here if not), you can post rating/reviews (& edit later), comments reviews and submit new albums.

You are not logged, please complete authentication before continuing (use forum credentials).

Send comments to steve h (BETA) | Report this review (#763226)
Posted Sunday, June 03, 2012 | Review Permalink
Gatot
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Very nice crossover prog ...

Well, if you followed the band since its inception you would find that this band has its roots on neo-progressive subgenre. But later the band changed its direction into more on crossover prog in the vein of something similar like Marillion 'Brave' eventhough this one sounds more energetic. And I think the band has tried to produce a very nice album where it consists epics with relatively long duration. I personally enjoy this album from start to end. It's strong in terms of melody as most of the vocal line that represents the melody are quite catchy and memorable. In terms of harmonies it has excellent harmonies that blends nicely all instruments in ambient mode making excellent support to vocal. There are stunning guitar and piano works throughout the epics. There is basically little complexity with moderate changes of styles and modes. As there are moderates changes in styles and modes, therefore the whole albums sounds cohesive and having good structural integrity. For me personally, this album is very nice even though not challenging in terms of complexities and dynamics. Sometimes I feel like the song has been prolonged unnecessarily. But it's OK. Keep on proggin' ...!!!

Peace on earth and mercy mild - GW

MEMBERS LOGIN ZONE

As a registered member (register here if not), you can post rating/reviews (& edit later), comments reviews and submit new albums.

You are not logged, please complete authentication before continuing (use forum credentials).

Send comments to Gatot (BETA) | Report this review (#765817)
Posted Thursday, June 07, 2012 | Review Permalink
tszirmay
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Crossover Team
5 stars Long disc, long review.

I have given this 2Cd release a very wide berth, as befits all long-winded albums that, too often have glittering prizes entangled with parasitic dross. At first spin strangely, I was not overtly impressed, perhaps overwhelmed by so much compact and dense material, as if one huge epic, reminiscent of Tales From Topographic Oceans' bombastic and much debated overkill. But with repeated sonic orbits, the scenery (pun!) became clearer and somehow more coalescing towards sheer, unadulterated enjoyment. Less metallic than the glorified "Posthumous Silence" due to Volker Sohl's piano and Marco Gluhmann's massive voice now being the major architects, Sceneries is without question or any hesitation on my part, Sylvan's ultimate prog masterpiece.

Firstly, the album must be listened to in one fall swoop, absorbed and understood as the platform that will consecrate Marco as modern music's most striking voice. He has grown immensely as a vocalist by incorporating a wider variety of tone and accent, sounding analogous to such legendary singers as Bono, Peter Murphy and Steve Hoggarth while still remaining the quixotic and passionate howler that he always was. I will of course refer to these aspects later in the analysis but the music now serves a foil for some intense singing of the highest order, arguably one of prog's most evident weakness and rarity . (When Greg Lake keeps winning prog vocalist polls in 2012, you know there is a problem behind the mike!)

Secondly, the piano has most evidently become the lead magical wand, serviced by Jan Petersen's more textured axe playing, as opposed to the previous dominance by Kay Sohl and the keys becoming the coloratura. After numerous comprehensive spins that suddenly make the sounds familiar, the music becomes pristine, delicate and yet powerfully expressive, loaded with a kaleidoscope of mosaic resonance that titillates with exquisite restraint. The tight rhythm section has never been questioned though the bass is not as upfront as before. Sylvan has decided to play as a Mannschaft (team) and the results are simply astounding. But the real shocker is the voice, a confident and self-assured instrument of captivating emotion that reveals a true star at work and at play. I am still bowled over.

Only multiple auditions can bloom this forest of flowers into a paradise. The more you listen to it, the more addictive it gets. Piano and voice is how they gustily forge this monster album forward, Marco trembling passionately in bluesy kind of way, highly confident yet relaxed, a sign of incredible musical maturity, similar to love-making (fear of censors, Thomas?), you learn to relax and enjoy as you mature! The instrumental breaks are fast, at times funky and soberly furious. Like the legendary Christian Décamps of Ange, Marco can actually sing and in a multitude of textures and tones to boot! Theatrical? You bet your Shakespeare or Moličre! He really can yelp, plead, caress and serenade at will, a sensitive amalgam of many brilliant voices, all ensconced in a massive torrent of sound that they have mastered, cognizant technique, musical team spirit cresting at 100% and a clear vision, which for an epic album that can only be appreciated in a complete listen must label itself as a colossal rarity! Sylvan pull it off in a myriad of spades, throw in a few shovels and some toolboxes while you are at it! Bombastic, romantic and relentlessly unhurried, with multiple bombshell twists and sublime excursions that negate categorization as just "Neo-prog". At times, symphonic, folky, jazzy and then suddenly bombastic, with splashes of alternative and modern paint This is a sizzling voyage of utter prog determination, solid and unpredictable, evocative, honest and sincere. But Marco Glühmann steals the show with a vocal tour de force performance, the elegant piano the obvious "fil conducteur" , appearing as the pied-piper of musical dreams, luxuriantly bathing in a kaleidoscope of sounds, while guitarist Jan Petersen flashes some ripping dazzle when needed and even he takes his time in exploding. Strength and restraint are the words to describe the equipoise of this Hamburg-based band of brothers (even though Kay Sohl is now gone!)

This is a humongous success with absolutely no dead weight filler and mostly colossally perfect symphonic prog, with unending innovation in exploring new vistas and expressing them accordingly. That folks (volk in German) is called genius. The atmosphere goes from the utter nadir, screaming up to up to highest Everest and they do so with gusto and panache. There are numerous winks at Marbles, Marillion's epic work but Sylvan simply blows Hoggarth and crew out of the water and I am in no way referring to the rather unglorious "Sink the Bismarck" episode in early WW2 with its massive horror casualties. Sylvan doesn't get as heavy as in the past, but when they do, hold on to your sauerkraut, the guys go on a monumental tear as they elevate their craft to a completely new level. There is even a segment where Marco sounds at times like the lascivious Peter Murphy (ex-Bauhaus), it's almost scary like a Dracula-infested Halloween party! But it works brilliantly as Marco then veers the band into new, almost Floydian territory demonstrating that controlled restraint and assuredness. The symphonic orchestrations release a new steamroller riff, doomsday explosions of despair and pain with the voice pleadingly surfing on the musical crest, going under and then over once again, reigning supreme. The psychedelics kick in and the mood gets creamier, with more Pink references and a leisurely pace only serves to further engulf the listener. By the end of the second CD, the lusty rhythms have raged furiously in whirlwind splendor, raising the bar even higher by diving and soaring according to the need and want. Petersen's axe unleashes its power liberally, weaving slippery leads almost at will, enriching the angst to the nth degree. Ebb and flow, cadence and cascade, power and glory.

As so poignantly stated by lazland, if there is one 2012 album that you need to incorporate in your collection, Sceneries is the one! Rarely have I witnessed such a cavalcade of stirring melodies on one release, panacea for the soul and ear candy for the mind. An exhilarating ride! A masterpiece has arrived.

5 polyvalent panoramas

MEMBERS LOGIN ZONE

As a registered member (register here if not), you can post rating/reviews (& edit later), comments reviews and submit new albums.

You are not logged, please complete authentication before continuing (use forum credentials).

Send comments to tszirmay (BETA) | Report this review (#778491)
Posted Wednesday, June 27, 2012 | Review Permalink
3 stars Having got Sylvan's 'Leaving backstage' (Their live album), I could hear perhaps how limited their sound and style probably were.

The band ultimately have a 'heavy' guitar sound, interspersed and led by a keyboardist! it all comes together nicely in 'Posthumous silence', but can they offer anything else?

What strikes me about 'Sceneries' is the lack of creativity. They know the formula that their fans like, but have then bled it to death on the first disc.

Imagine the climax of 'Heart of Lothian' by Marillion, and then keep repeating it, because these 'climaxes' are obviously what they're best at. It all gets a bit tiresome, to be honest.

Surprisingly, the 'creative' part comes on disc 2. Quite where the heavy 'Part three' of 'Farewell to old friends', comes from, gould only knows! It's a high point nonetheless.

There's little or no 'atmosphere' music here, and the style overall is probably closer to the band's heart if the truth be told.

There are similarities to 'Misplaced child' (again, by Marillion), although Sylvan's sound is not the same. They're both kind of 'romantic' in feel.

I'd say that it's a solid Sylvan album, but the emphasis is more on those romantic climaxes than it is on Prog.

MEMBERS LOGIN ZONE

As a registered member (register here if not), you can post rating/reviews (& edit later), comments reviews and submit new albums.

You are not logged, please complete authentication before continuing (use forum credentials).

Send comments to sussexbowler (BETA) | Report this review (#817371)
Posted Sunday, September 09, 2012 | Review Permalink
4 stars A fabulous Neo Prog band from Germany who really do not have a weak album in their entire catalogue; a catalogue which is now becoming pretty impressive.

With Sceneries the focus, as usual, is on the vocals and Marco does not disappoint. His voice is certainly unique but I find it very appealing (despite having to read the liner notes from time to time) and it's very well suited to the overall sound that the band produce.

The guitar work is really impressive on Sceneries as is the keyboards too. The songs are finely written and the album seems to flow very nicely. This album did take several listens to fully absorb, which was something slightly different from some of the previous albums; notably Posthumous Silence and Artificial Paradise, (both absolute gems), which were instantly appealing for me. The band have obviously worked very hard to produce a piece of music that progresses their catalogue but without over-complication and without dipping their toes into a more popular direction (Presets)

I am really pleased that Sylvan have moved on from Posthumous Silence with continuing authority and greatness. Marginally I prefer Posthumous Silence but that was always going to be hard to top.

I eagerly await the next chapter from one of my favourite bands in the Neo Prog genre.

MEMBERS LOGIN ZONE

As a registered member (register here if not), you can post rating/reviews (& edit later), comments reviews and submit new albums.

You are not logged, please complete authentication before continuing (use forum credentials).

Send comments to demolition man (BETA) | Report this review (#952788)
Posted Thursday, May 02, 2013 | Review Permalink

SYLVAN Sceneries ratings only


chronological order | showing rating only

Post a review of SYLVAN Sceneries


You must be a forum member to post a review, please register here if you are not.

MEMBERS LOGIN ZONE

As a registered member (register here if not), you can post rating/reviews (& edit later), comments reviews and submit new albums.

You are not logged, please complete authentication before continuing (use forum credentials).

Copyright Prog Archives, All rights reserved. | Legal Notice | Privacy Policy | Advertise | GeoIP Services by MaxMind | RSS + syndications

Other sites in the MAC network: JazzMusicArchives.com — the ultimate jazz music virtual community | MetalMusicArchives.com — the ultimate metal music virtual community


Server processing time: 0.20 seconds