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Silhouette - Beyond The Seventh Wave CD (album) cover

BEYOND THE SEVENTH WAVE

Silhouette

Neo-Prog


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5 stars Silhouette's last album, "Across the Rubicon", was a personal favorite for me for the year 2012, so I had high expectations for this new release, "Beyond the Seventh Wave". And after my first few listens, I thought this was almost as good as "Rubicon" But now, after repeated listens over the last couple of months, I actually think is album is much better than "Rubicon". At first I thought the songs had a certain sameness about them, as they were not instantly memorable. But now, after having learned the music, my appreciation of the album has grown with each new listen, and I have raised my rating from four stars to five stars. There are no weak tracks on the album.

The guitar-keyboard interplay is superb, and the vocals, although generally on the higher pitched side, are appropriate for the music, varying from soft to aggressive, such as in the title track. So for me, this album has everything I would want- outstanding musicianship, good vocals, and excellent compositions. And considering that I was disappointed with Knight Area's latest release, I now consider Silhouette to be my favorite of the Dutch prog bands. Highly recommended.

Report this review (#1318667)
Posted Monday, December 1, 2014 | Review Permalink
5 stars I've come to view this as an antithesis of today's most massive prog and generally music trends. In the world full with overlayered ocean of sounds that substitute apparent comfort for the lack genuinely good melodic ideas, the world where a charismatic frontman is a requirement for musical (and critical!) success, SILHOUETTE comes in, without any apparent cool-factor, with everything on the sleeve, trying their best and barely succeeding holding the tunes together...

... but in the end, nothing matters, because these guys might be one of the most perfect melody makers modern music has ever witnessed. They musically state is as the sole requirement and they fully succeed. This is a music that cannot lie. It never plays cool, being often very fragile... but it goes unhurt from beginning to the end, enshrouding everything with its mesmerizing beauty.

Key songs: "In Solitary", "Lost Paradise".

Report this review (#1319121)
Posted Wednesday, December 3, 2014 | Review Permalink
Angelo
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars Silhouette is a Dutch neo-prog band, who released their fourth album this year. An album consisting of 11 tracks, each well composed and well executed.

At the base of Silhouettes music on this album is the keyboard work of Erik Laan, who is also the most productive composer in the band. Together with the two guitar players he creates a musical bed for the vocals, without overdoing it. In the tracks In Solitary and Lost Paradise there is still plenty of room for quieter parts. On Wings to fly, the band builds up nicely by starting with acoustic guitar, flute and cello, to end with a full blown electric crescendo. All of this carried by a very steady rhythm section - where part of the bass tracks are played by Jurjen Bergsma, because Gerrit-Jan Blooming decided to leave the band.

The album is at times a bit bombastic, but never annoying (unlike some of the overdone things that for example ELP could produce in the '70s). A slight defect of the album, from my point of view are the vocals. There are a few occasions where I feel, although both singers try their best (and with good results in e.g. Web of lies), the vocals either lack emotion (perhaps due to focusing too much on technique) or sound a bit pinched in the higher regions. There is some room for improvement there, because in Devil's Island it can get a bit annoying for the listener.

That last track, Devil's Island is great in its instrumentals: when listenig with eyes closed, it is easy to imagine a flight over an island, seeing it from above, in the middle of the sea.

Overall, a good album, worth listening - but not as good as it could've been.

Report this review (#1323003)
Posted Thursday, December 11, 2014 | Review Permalink
2 stars After Across The Rubicon expectations ran very high for this new album by Dutch neo-proggers Silhouette. I have to admitt I did like Across The Rubicon. It was a step forwards for Silhouette after two rather bad albums. They invested a lot to accomplish this effort and they delivered. And now we have Beyond The Seventh Wave. There were some changes in the line-up. With a new drummer on board and a new guitar player things should get even better. Daniel van der Weijde on guitars is a revelation indeed. As I understand Gerrit-Jan Bloemink isn't with the band anymore. The bass player who has been there right from the start has left the band (or was kicked from it??) even though he has worked on Beyond the Seventh Wave and therefore is mentioned in the liner notes of the booklet. Erik Laan is the main force behind Silhouette. His keyboards are all over the place and he has done most of the writing. And even though he has done a solid job, I don't like what I hear! Chords keep on coming in the same order, over and over again. I've heard it all before. No surprising hooks, key changes, no challenging chords whatsoever. Just more of the same. This is why so many people don't like neo-prog. And they are right! Good neo-prog bands are really hard to find. I thought maybe Silhouette might become a good one some day, after the promising Across The Rubicon. But they fail me! The vocals are the weakest part of the album. I don't understand that they don't ask good vocalists to work with them. They invite lots of great names (mr Scherpenzeel just to name one) from the world of prog, but they keep on doing the vocals themselves. The best part of the album is the song Escape, which is an instrumental. And I do like the cover art. But over all this album isn't even mediocre and doesn't do anything for me. One and a half star.
Report this review (#1329997)
Posted Monday, December 29, 2014 | Review Permalink
tszirmay
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Imagine killer guitar riffs like vintage Saga, fueled by a supple keyboard wizard and a steely tight rhythm section that spares no prisoners. Sounds pretty promising, no? Well, that's what you get with Dutch band Silhouette, whose previous work 'Across the Rubicon' was a critical success, on their new recording 'Beyond the Seventh Wave'. What made its predecessor so attractive was the incorporation all the ingredients above into a song writing ethic that produced some entertaining neo-prog, flexible yet muscular, agile and attractive. This hard act to follow syndrome is sometimes fraught with dangers of exaggerated expectations but that only makes it easier to analyze in proper context, and only if you truly enjoy their style.

Erik Laan is the name of the ivory tickler and he profoundly impacts the dense sound that can be delicately romantic only minute with precious piano colorations and darn right snarling with fiery organ and synth barrages the next. Legendary Dutch keyboardist Ton Scherpenzeel (Camel, Kayak) is given a cameo opportunity, so needless to say there are plenty of symphonics here. The ballistic guitars are split between lead vocalist Brian de Graeve and newbie Daniel van der Weijde, giving plenty of meat and flesh to the arrangements, while the propellant tandem of bassist Gerrit-Jan Bloemink and phenomenal new recruit Rob van Nieuwenhuijzen on the drums, provide added acceleration.

The material is perhaps not as strong as on the previous masterpiece but there are some expressive mini-epics presented here, such as the 2 part 'Web of Lies' (14 and a half minutes of bliss), the tremendous 10 minute + 'Lost Paradise', the disturbing 'Devil's Island' and the title track. Toss in some exciting snippets and a flabbergasting instrumental 'Escape' and you finish off having a wholly acceptable segue album to an unassailable previous gem.

The grandiloquent 'Web of Lies part 1' kicks off with a muscular disposition, a memorable chorus within a thumping melody, tortured by a Saga-like instrumental platform for soloing, Laan in particular doing some serious damage on the warbled synthesizers, while the dual guitars assist in the assault, vaulting a tricky solo to boot. Part 2 alters the mood by introducing some lovely cello amid acoustic guitar adornments, massed mellotrons adding fuel to the impending fire, as the mighty drums roll on like some cannonade, urging even more desperation in the vocals. Very entertaining epic, hovering near fellow Dutchman Ayreon territory. The elegant piano outro is sublime.

'In Solitary' is a piano-led beauty, typical of the neo-prog school of delicate balladry, garnished with some illuminating electric guitar passages, celestial flute and romantic vocalizing. Both Laan and De Graeve handle the lead vocals, though I personally prefer the latter's more passionate delivery. As with Rubicon, I feel De Graeve should be the main (if not only) lead lung but that is not my call to make. Great simple tune. The entirely instrumental 'Escape' is a bruising monster, explosive drums, reverberating bass and simply titanic guitar and keyboard interventions make this a sizzling intermezzo. Van der Weijde throttles his guitar with manic abandon, Laan screeches on his synths like a modern day Manfred Mann, yes it's heavy and powerful and I like it!

The 10 minute + 'Lost Paradise' smoothly entrances the bedazzled listener with lovely Spanish guitar, the velvety vocals seem only to be inspired to aim for some distant utopia, 'dreaming of running away'. A luminous e-guitar slithers into the gentle fray, soon to be joined by a mellifluous synth foray. This little exchange goes on, like two lovers intertwined, impervious to any set of pre-determined rules. The mood actually increases in modulation, so as to almost become a cry in the night. Things get pretty perspiring, as the howling guitar rages into the deeper horizons, trembling and sizzling with little restraint. A churlish organ creeps in, spookier than Dracula's teeth, you just gotta admire the sweeping beauty of it all. Sweeping beauty? It's time for a kiss!

'Betrayed Again' is so overtly Genesis, you can only smile in admiration. A sweeping keyboard melodrama that serves only to announce the next epic, the majestic 'Devil's Island'. Inspired by the infernal penal colony in French Guiana and the book and movie Papillon by Henri Charriere , 'Le bagne de Cayenne' was an Alcatraz-like prison of hopelessness and despair, nowhere to escape to, just resignation and eventual miserable death. Typical prog subject matter, all that would be missing is a reference to Alfred Dreyfus, the most illustrious prisoner. As such, the music is dense like the Guyanese jungle, sweltering and pervasive, with hopeful reprieve coming with its ultimate demise in 1953.

The title track is a rambling affair, pretty aptly defining this crafty Dutch band style, namely a bright, crisp and exalted take on neo-prog, nothing lame or by the numbers. This piece in particular navigates the two extremes quite well, voyaging between sweet and wild, turning on a dime if required. Brian de Graeve shines on lead vocals, his high-pitched voice exemplifying the passion within his soul, contrary to what previous reviewers have stated, I do not find his voice 'forced' but I will admit that Erik Laan's can be a bit pushy on occasion.

'Wings to Fly' ends this fine affair, an intense cry for freedom and liberty, well-performed and loaded with passionate detail. Violin and cello provide coloring to an urgent and imperative chorus, a classy bit of entertaining music.

A perfectly acceptable follow-up to Across the Rubicon, great artwork, production and a well-paced set list of fine neo-progressive nuggets.

4 surfing shadows

Report this review (#1345738)
Posted Wednesday, January 14, 2015 | Review Permalink

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