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4 stars After the release of the excellent 'Artificial Paradise', we all looked forward to a worthy follow up. After all, the band had raised the stakes and the question was if they could reach that level again or eventually surpass it. The choice to explore other paths was very understandable. The band had already created a sturdy niche of a cross between neo-prog and sympho, without disturbing the basics.

The opening track, "So Easy", gets straight to the point. The powerful, melodic sound, which characterized the former CD, is now embedded in a more complex sound layer, touching upon art rock, atmospheric rock and even progmetal. And it's all done very well.

The short and slightly dizzy, "So Much More", sounds fairly conventional, but on "Lost", they pulled out all the stops and SYLVAN presents itself as a group with balls. The super heavy guitar riffs create a threatening aura, while the keyboards give a hint of atmosphere.

Those musical tricks of the trade that one finds in bombastic melodies are used excessively during "You Are" and the link with art rock is quickly made. Now's the right time to get rockin' and to let "Fearless" blast out of your speakers. The song gradually evolves into a psychedelic trip with a PINK FLOYD style ending as its cherry on the cake. The band gives the listener a welcomed break with two easy listening songs, "Belated Gift" and "Today". The next song, "Through My Eyes", shoots you with a rush of adrenaline. Although it's less powerful than "Lost", it still makes a strong impact. It's time to get ready for a new trilogy from the band, "Given-Used-Forgotten". We had to wait a long time for this. Keyboard player Volker Sohl created fantastic classical music passages which one should really sit down and listen to. The SYLVAN of 2004 and all that the band stands for is encompassed in this one song: heavenly, drawn out melodies, richly orchestrated and beautifully performed arrangements and ingenious compositions. Where they find all this amazing material remains a mystery to me. The last song, "The World is not for Me", is fantastic and reaches all levels of the prog world.

This is yet another top album in the collections of this German band. Despite the fact that they explore new areas, they're still in line with what they were doing on 'Artificial Paradise'. There's no doubt, SYLVAN is top class

>>> Review by: Piet "Neal" Michem (9/10) Translated by Jennifer Summer<<<

Report this review (#29352)
Posted Friday, June 11, 2004 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Style-wise, this album does exactly the same with the band's previous album "Artificial Paradise" with the same quality musically. Both albums are totally different compared to the band's previous two albums album "Encounters" and "Deliverance" in terms of composition, style and structure. At first spin, I was not impressed with the music as it sounded so empty for my personal taste. Especially, if I've just listened to prog met style as this album is overall mellow in style. Surprisingly, my appreciation grew significantly after couple of spins. The first comment was an easy listening prog or just call it an ear candy prog. The more I put this CD on my player, I can see the value of this album's music. It's the same experience when I listened to CARPTREE at the first time. In fact, they both share similar music style. If you have ever liked CARPTREE you would definitely love this album. In addition to that, this album might also suit the taste of those who like late Marillion album "Marbles" or Peter Gabriel's music or Radiohead. But Carptree is the closest one. Or, put it the other way round, if you like this album you will like Carptree.

So Easy (8:19)

This track is well positioned as album opener as it has a tight and neat structure and keeps its music flows nicely from start to end with a peaceful rhythm and melodic vocals. One thing noticeable about this track is its access-ability by majority of listeners as the structure is relatively straight forward. It starts with an ambient music in the vein of Peter Gabriel with a slow-paced tempo. Vocal enters beautifully into the music and altogether create a floating nuance with vocal strong accentuation. Even though it's basically a mellow song, but it has an uplifting mood especially if I look at how the lead singer brings his lyrical part merges into the music. The children choir at the back has enriched the textures of this track. It's an excellent track. [*****]

So Much More (3:07)

This track opens with a powerful low register notes voice line with great accentuation. The music is mixed thinly with soft keyboard sound at background. It moves upward with the entrance of drum work in a slow-paced style. The beauty of this short track lies in the nuance created through a combination of melodic lyrical passage and tight musical composition that mostly played at background. [****]

Lost (7:16)

This third track opens with an ambient sound effects and chanting with soft riffs reminiscent of Peter Gabriel's music. The music enters in upbeat style altogether with powerful voice followed with simple but wonderful guitar riffs. There are excellent orchestration arranged in between musical passages that help elevate the mood. The keyboard solo performed in the middle of the track is really stunning. Basslines, unlike with previous tracks, are made tighter - reminiscent of John Giblin style. The nicest part of this track is probably during the musical riffs that sound like a symphonic music and the guitar solo at the ending part - reminiscent of Steve Rothery (Marillion). This song ends wonderfully! [*****]

You Are (5:30)

This track repeats the style of the third track "So Much More" where the lead singer demonstrates his low register notes voice delivery powerfully. The music moves steadily into higher tone that leads to a stunning electric guitar solo. The guitar fills that follow remind me to Steve Rothery's guitar style. Overall, it's a good track but it tends to be a boring track as the structure is pretty straight forward. Again, there is a very nice electric guitar solo played softly.[*** ½ ]

Fearless (9:10)

An energetic music with upbeat tempo and uplifting mood created through heavy riffs with keyboards as main instrument combined with solid bass lines. Guitar is played as rhythm section and accentuates the composition. The lead singer sets his voice in a rocking style with high register notes. The music turns into quieter passage with a spacey mood in the middle of the track. Sound effects are used nicely and provide great musical nuance. The bass guitar is given a chance to perform its solo right after the spacey nuance with stunning guitar touch at the back and powerful vocal that bring the music to the ending part with soft guitar solo work. It's cool. [**** ½ ]

Belated Gift (4:07)

It's totally a pop song outfit with upbeat tempo. It's a very accessible track to a wider audience as the music flows smoothly with happy beats. In some segments there are some floating nuance especially when the lead singer moves his voice into higher register notes. The short interlude part is nice combining the sounds of keyboard, guitar and bass with drum beats followed with some distant vocal style. [*** ½]

Today (3:09)

Another short track with rhythm section that reminds me to the music of The Beatles. But, I have to admit that the vocal quality is top notch. When the music flows peacefully (I mean it) it reminds me to the kind of Radiohead music with much better vocal quality. Yes, overall it's a Radiohead's music. The soft piano at the back is really good. [***]

Through my Eyes (6:49)

This track opens with a musical loop reminiscent of Peter Gabriel's, followed with accentuated voice line and heavy musical riffs. It's probably the only track with a flavor of progressive metal style, performed differently because the vocal department delivers its role nicely, in an energetic way! Guitar fills in between transitions provide classical seventies prog. Composition-wise, it's a wonderfully crafted music combining modern spacey sound and heavy music riffs. It's very enjoyable. Especially with some orchestration that give a symphonic nuance. The electric guitar solo reminds me to Marillion's music. [**** ½ ]

Given-Used-Forgotten (12:55)

It's a thought provoking title, isn't it? It starts wonderfully with a soft piano touch that features vocal in mellow style. Acoustic guitar inserts its sound at the background and helps enrich the music. The piano turns into classical and brings the music into a medium tempo style with nice guitar solo followed with floating singing style. The music turns into quieter passages with firm baselines and spacey keyboard sound and guitar fills. It flows beautifully with basslines as main rhythm section augmented with simple guitar fills. In between lyrical passages the guitar gives its solo into the music combined with classical piano touch. The howling guitar sound enters the music during quiet passage and vocal suddenly brings its full power voice followed by great music riffs, roughly in the middle of the track. It's not a complex song structurally. However, the arrangement of this song has been done meticulously with an awesome result: great music with powerful songwriting. It's a great track overall. [*****]

This World is Not for Me (8:20)

For those who love Marillion's "Sugar Mice" or "Chelsea Monday" or even some mellow tracks in Marbles album may love this concluding track as well. It's not exactly the same style and structure but they share the same slow-paced music. It's a depressive title. No doubt that the music projects a dark nuance. I like the composition of this track where it starts really mellow and moves to slow rock guitar solo after the mellow vocal part. I find some similarities between the lead singer's singing style with Hogarth's. It's an enjoyable track. [*** ½ ]


Overall, it's an enjoyable music with excellent composition: powerful songwriting, flawless performance and melodic. It's probably accessible to wider audience as the music is not complex, easy to digest and memorable. The sonic quality is excellent. Overall rating is 4+ out of 5 stars. Highly recommended. Keep on proggin'.!

Progressively yours,


Report this review (#29354)
Posted Monday, May 16, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars "X-Rayed" is SYLVAN's fourth studio album and is following consequently the path taken by their third CD Artificial Paradise. Compared to AP the sound is a little bit more powerful and rough, but without lack of the characteristics of SYLVAN's music.

Though XR is no real concept album, there exists a global theme, which connects the song with each other. Each song tells the story of a person trying to deal very personally with their individual situation. Those people are ,x-rayed' and their inner world displayed.

To be honest: when I first listened to "X-Rayed" I was a bit disappointed, because I had hoped it would be just as good as its predecessor. Actually I still think AP is a bit better than XR, but on the other hand I must admit that this is also due to the fact that AP is more "accessible" and XR just needs some more time to "settle in".

Personal favourites of "XR" would be: "So Easy", "So Much More", "Belated Gift", Today" and the absolute epic of "XR" would be "Given - Used - Forgotten". But even the "weaker tracks" aren't week at all. They are all still way above average!

So for that reason I'm glad I didn't review XR right away, but really lead it "sink in" first. Now, after listening to XR for about twenty plus times I think I can say that it also is a four star album. Really! A bit more rough and less polished, but that's what even makes it get better and better each time you listen to it. I could review all album track by track again, but I don't really see the point here. Let me just say that if you liked "AP" and "PS" you will (eventually) also like "XR"! Great album!

Report this review (#107595)
Posted Monday, January 15, 2007 | Review Permalink
2 stars Fourth album for this German band. Musicianship is still very good (I quite like Marco's voice and style and Kay is a solid guitar player). The problem being their song writting. Nothing really great on this record. The album opens with some good songs with a definite neo-prog mood like "So Easy" or the mellowish "So Much More".

Unfortunately, Sylvan will also change direction in several songs. They are heading towards heavy metal sounds. Listen to "Lost", and to "Fearless" : they are rather unbearable. This is not prog (even neo). Just horrible metal-like music out of purpose here. The spacey middle part will not save this track from complete misery, I'm afraid (and the supplice lasts for over nine minutes in the case of "Fearless"). "Through My Eyes" is made of the same mould.

This album is boring most of the time. Uniform and tasteless music like "Belated Gift"and "Today". Of course, I am not a huge fan of "Sylvan" but they have really reached their lows here. From time to time, a good prog tune will break the dull mood. Like in "You Are" and its definite Floydian flavour.

"Given, Used, Forgotten" is by far the best (and only great) number of this album. Nice vocals and above all, great guitar job : very Gilmouresque. Since it is the longest track of the album, it will prevent me to give the lowest rating possible for this work. It is really a bombastic song. If only Sylvan would produce more of this type !

In this maelstrom of noisy and useless music (excepting four songs so far), the closing number "This World Is Not For Me" sounds as a breath of fresh air. A mellow rock ballad with a grand finale (guitar again, of course). The very end of the song though, with the children choir and sweet piano could have been avoided.

All in all, not a record to be remembered (even if forty-five minutes of it are good). Actually, if they had released only five songs, the album would still have a decent lenght and would have gained in quality. I really don't see the point in releasing exagerated lenghty albums. At the end they sound pretty boring (same applies for some TFK, Mostly Autumn or Cast work). To my ears, their only album whorth listening so far is "Artificial Paradise".

Two stars for this one.

Report this review (#122623)
Posted Thursday, May 17, 2007 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
4 stars This one took me a little longer to get into than their other releases. Compared to "Artificial Paradise" I would say this one is darker and more intense. I would also say it's more consistant, although it doesn't reach the heights of it's predecessor. As usual with their releases this one is about relationships, and it deals especially about the negative things that can occur.

"So Easy" features a good contrast between the mellow verses and the full sound on the chorus.There is a spacey passage from the 3 1/2 minute mark to the 6 minute mark. Then the song explodes with soaring vocals and guitar. "So Much More" is a ballad-like tune with the focus on the vocals. "Lost" is the heaviest track with passionate vocals and heavy riffs. There is some nice heavy guitar, as well as some soaring melodies before 4 minutes.The riffs come back and I have to mention the excellent keyboard work on this song. "You Are" has a catchy melody with a good beat. The guitar is incredible on this song as we get a full sound 2 minutes in.The guitar is played slowly but loudly and we get some ripping solos 4 minutes in. "Fearless" opens with children singing as a Raga beat comes in. There is a psychedelic section and samples of people talking. Some more amazing guitar that soars 8 minutes in. The vocals are truly beautiful. Marco has the ability to be emotional, and he has a really good range too.

"Belated Gift" has a spacey intro and what follows has a good beat with some great bass work. The vocals shine again. "Today" is the weakest track in my opinion.The only average one ! Piano, vocals and drums lead the way. "Through My Eyes" has a powerful and heavy sound a minute in. Piano and cymbals are up next before riffs arrive.Theatrical vocals 5 1/2 minutes in as heavy guitar follows. "Given-Used-Forgotten" is my favourite song on the album. The first 2 minutes are mellow with piano and vocals. Guitars come in powerfully as vocals follow. Some ripping guitar 5 minutes in followed by piano and synths. Female vocals 7 1/2 minutes in that are contrasted with the heaviness until a fantastic guitar solo 10 minutes in. Piano joins in as vocals come back 11 minutes in. The guitar continues as this is so uplifting and emotional. Amazing tune ! "This World Is Not For Me" is probably my second favourite, tough call though.The chorus is so infectious to the point i'm singing along. The guitar is again incredible.

I really like this band and certainly the vocals and the guitars are the two main reasons. I know some people feel the sound on this album is almost grunge-like, but maybe that's why I like it so much being a big fan of 90's Alternative music.

Report this review (#132116)
Posted Monday, August 6, 2007 | Review Permalink
3 stars I read quite some promising reviews about this band's material and since this is neo-prog I had the feeling I couldn't get around it anymore. So I bought a few Sylvan albums. This wasn't my first but I bought them in a very short period so that has no real influence.

What to say about Sylvan ? What strikes me most is the vocals. I'm very ambivalent about him because he absolutely can sing but there is something annoying about the way he sings and then I'm not talking about the accent or something. It's his "soothing" voice I can't really stand and he uses that way of singing quite often. So I'm afraid thta's a slight minus. The instrumental aspect of the band is really decent but not spectacular. Same goes for the compositions. Not bad but even the longer ones (the ones I usually like best) don't have too much special effects or features.

Still, the longer tracks are somewhat better, my favourite tracks of the album are Lost and Given-used-forgotten. Other nice songs are Through my eyes and So easy but none of them all get me thrilled in some sort of way. So I have to leave it at 3 stars.

Report this review (#153101)
Posted Thursday, November 29, 2007 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars This album is highly recommended for everyone who is exited about the peak days of Hogarth-era Marillion. With the occasional touch of metal also fans of Riverside or Anathema might check this out.

Although the band has little to offer in ways of originality and innovation, they still manage to sound fresh and passionate. The songs are typically emotional epics where a well balanced instrumentation serves as a strong backbone for the bands main asset: its singer Marco Glühmann. Mr Glühmann has a very strong and emotive voice, slightly similar to Hogarth but avoiding that man's forced screech (don't be mistaken, I'm a Hogarth fan but he can be a tad annoying if he goes in emotional overdrive). In a creative sense however, Glühmann has less to offer as he is seemingly singing the same lines and applying the same tricks through the entire album. The same applies for the band as a whole. The album is quite consistent and well played but everything sounds a bit too similar.

Sylvan is a typically German neo-prog band that won't astonish you much but it's an excellent alternative for the comatose claptrap that Marillion has been releasing since Marbles. 3.5 stars

Report this review (#240708)
Posted Monday, September 21, 2009 | Review Permalink
kev rowland
Honorary Reviewer
4 stars This is the fourth album from Sylvan, but is the first that I have heard - if the others are anything like this one then I have most definitely been missing out. Here we have a band that while sitting within the progressive rock genre are one of those rare beasts, namely a band that is trying to be progressive. Each song can be a journey through different styles within itself, let alone when comparing one to another. Radiohead are an obvious influence, but there is something more melodic about Sylvan although they have the space down to a tee. It is exciting music that also is very laid back, it is music that you have to go to, music that you have to investigate and search through but the rewards are there to be heard.

The more I played this album the more excited I became about it ? there is just so much in here. Think Porcupine Tree, think IQ, even think Japan but most definitely think music that at times is quite different to anything else around. Listen to "Fearless" and one could imagine that this was the Chilli Peppers trying something different! The production is spot on, with each instrument clearly defined yet also part of an encompassing blanket of sound. When they want to rock, they can do so, but for the most part the guitars are held back. The result is one of the freshest and invigorating albums I have heard within the prog scene for some time. Progheads need to discover this.

Originally appeared in Feedback #79, June 2004

Report this review (#1101580)
Posted Saturday, December 28, 2013 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars In 2004 Sylvan return with their fourth studio release, ''X-Rayed'', released again on the Point label.This was some sort of a semi-concept album, not actually a story unfolding with each track, but rather a collection of songs with a central theme, refering to the inner world of different human beings, as these are revealed via ''x-rays''.

Different individuals means sound and mood changes throughout the darker of all Sylvan releases thus far, the atmospheric depth of the album seems like it demanded a turn towards of more PINK FLOYD-ian musical background with more downtempo songs and occasional bombastic moments popping up throughout the album, but all these echoes have passed through the Sylvan prisma, modern production, addition of contemporary elements like sound effects, distortions and slight electronic touches and a a rougher edge in the guitar riffs.The basis of the music still remains an artistic Neo Prog, now showered by the sporadic metallic edges, and they even seem to flirt with the PORCUPINE TREE stylings of Heavy Prog, Ambient and raw Rock blends.But then again you will find this unmistakable, cathartic electric solos akin to standard Neo Prog, while the keyboards' role remains somewhere between providing orchestral vibes and delivering either angular or melodic echoes depending on the piece.Gluehmann definitely belongs among the best singers of the genre, this display of changing moods was the best test for him to come up as a real standout among prog vocalists.

Again a Sylvan album, which can only be compared to the works of Satellite.While not belonging among the ultimate classics of the genre, it manages to keep a surprising consistency throughout, while passing through a wide range of feelings and moods.Strongly recommended, this is very fine modern Neo Prog, that doesn't say goodbye to Prog Rock's roots...3.5 stars.

Report this review (#1356087)
Posted Wednesday, January 28, 2015 | Review Permalink

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