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SYLVAN

Neo-Prog • Germany


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Sylvan biography
Founded in Hamburg, Germany in 1998 (started in 1990 as "Temporal Temptation")

SYLVAN is a German neo prog band with an emphasis on the vocals and a powerful sound driven by keys and guitar. This is prog that seems comfortable in both the neo and metal genres. With their debut album "Deliverance", the German band from Hamburg open the door to this hidden world for all of us. The music takes you onto a journey full of miracles, dreams, love, passion and fortune.

The dominant style of SYLVAN is a mix of Symphonic Progressive Rock, neo Progressive and Classical Rock including touchs of the Progressive Metal, blended together in a new and interesting way, decorated with lot of intricate keyboards and guitars sounds and grandiose musical passages in all songs. Frequently compared to group like MARILLION or IQ, SYLVAN successfully adds a new facet to Nineties neo Progressive.

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SYLVAN discography


Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help Progarchives.com to complete the discography and add albums

SYLVAN top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.43 | 109 ratings
Deliverance
1999
3.26 | 100 ratings
Encounters
2000
3.84 | 214 ratings
Artificial Paradise
2002
3.60 | 150 ratings
X-Rayed
2004
4.16 | 519 ratings
Posthumous Silence
2006
3.52 | 168 ratings
Presets
2006
3.56 | 187 ratings
Force of Gravity
2009
3.94 | 427 ratings
Sceneries
2012
3.82 | 212 ratings
Home
2015
4.06 | 146 ratings
One to Zero
2021

SYLVAN Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

4.32 | 51 ratings
Leaving Backstage
2008

SYLVAN Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

4.68 | 60 ratings
Posthumous Silence - The Show
2008

SYLVAN Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

SYLVAN Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

SYLVAN Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 One to Zero by SYLVAN album cover Studio Album, 2021
4.06 | 146 ratings

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One to Zero
Sylvan Neo-Prog

Review by setortos12

5 stars "One To Zero", an album to listen to in peace and quiet, in moments of reflection and self-care, paradoxically dealing with a story from which you would not expect such deep topics but which are treated with such a human approach that it becomes something unexpected and fundamental. So let's see what it's all about.

"One To Zero" is a concept album, and already when we read this statement we Prog fans look at it with different eyes and are overcome with enthusiasm. Even more so when we hear the interesting premise: detailing the autobiography of an Artificial Intelligence from its own perspective. A rather intriguing concept that is developed very loosely and makes us want to dive right into the story. Things kick off with "Bit by Bit" (a rather ingenious name considering the theme of the album), where the peculiar creation of this algorithm is narrated, a sort of computer genesis, while musically we travel through familiar terrain that fills us with joy. An accessible yet complex melodic prog with a crystalline and pristine sound, it's nice when an album sounds really good.

"Encoded at Heart" tells us how this intelligence has the task of saving the environment by repairing everything that humanity has destroyed, a rather risky and complex mission. The song begins guided by a subtle piano and a powerful bass and drums base that leaves us perplexed, always adorned with Marco Glühmann's melancholic vocals, which explode in a totally emotional and mobilising chorus. A mid-tempo song in the character of a power ballad, something Sylvan are already known to excel at. In "Start Your Life", the AI is processing itself, guided by an eternal feeling of constant optimisation. Musically we are met with a more straightforward, electronic-tinged Rock that has us shaking our heads and feet in unison, enjoying a short and exciting number.

"Unleashed Power" tells of the algorithm's coming of age, beautifully symbolised by a solemn and heartbreaking lead piano ballad, with a mesmerising and heartfelt vocal performance. Slowly developing but very enjoyable, it invites us to immerse ourselves totally in its atmosphere. In "Trust Yourself" there is a radical change in the story, and therefore also in the musical proposal, with electronic elements coming to the forefront, reminding us of some recent incursions of Steven Wilson in the "Hand.Cannot.Erase." stage, with a song as intriguing and strange as it is direct and predictable in its chorus. A somewhat disconcerting exercise but one that ends up working in a great way.

The story continues with "On My Odyssey", an exercise that starts off quite minimalistic and takes me back to some iconic Ayreon moments in its atmosphere. It builds to a climax both sonically and plot-wise, where the AI finally turns to its creator to pose various questions. It all builds up to the epic "Part of Me", with its 9-minute long and extensive developments into imperfectly perfect climaxes, electronic beats and digitally conveyed emotions. Artificial intelligence is realising its vast superiority over the human race. It is one of the most powerful songs on the album, which then becomes heavy and reflects the anger that our protagonist is feeling, and then ends in a calm and exciting way with a heartfelt guitar solo that makes us shudder.

Our AI realises that it has the potential to be the leader of humanity, shown with choral arrangements and subtle electronic bits in the intimate and brief ballad "Worlds Apart", arriving then to the infectious "Go Viral", where you can understand why they chose this piece to officiate as a single, it shows a versatile and catchy side of the quintet, where the electronic arrangements provide a base for a rocking guitars at the forefront. AI reigns supreme and develops a conscience given its high degree of destructiveness. "No, this is not the way...", the machine laments. A song that in a just world should, ironically, go viral.

The finale comes in the form of "Not A Goodbye", another epic 10-minute piece where we realise that humanity does not deserve the qualities of this powerful AI. Beginning in an enigmatic and ominous way with piano and dark atmospheres, the song develops with solemn moments and a relaxing cadence that progresses in intensity until it explodes in that climax we've been waiting for and doesn't disappoint, impregnating drama and melancholic virtue. "It is not suicide, but only the beginning of a new cycle of life". So says our beloved algorithm as it concludes that humanity is not ready for its virtues.

With "One To Zero", we can say that Sylvan has made a solid return to the front page of Neo-Progressive Rock, imbuing their exquisite musical proposal with emotionality, dramatism and warmth. Here you won't find excessive virtuosity or a thousand notes per second, but the most melancholic and grandiloquent expression of a band that works from the shadows but when it comes out, we all get excited. Putting melancholy and drama into a story whose protagonist is an Artificial Intelligence is no easy task, but Sylvan comes out on top with a superb album that can be enjoyed in any environment while we wait for the machines to take over the world.

 One to Zero by SYLVAN album cover Studio Album, 2021
4.06 | 146 ratings

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One to Zero
Sylvan Neo-Prog

Review by Maurus9

5 stars One to Zero' is their new album which becomes the tenth of their career. It is a concept album that tells the first person story of an Artificial Intelligence. Sylvan's new album opens with 'Bit By Bit'. An up-tempo intro that evokes ambient music, but seasoned with sounds reminiscent of robots and computers. Then we have the beautiful keyboards and Glühmann's voice that then adds to the whole band and gives way to a dynamic and fluid instrumental section that is well achieved.

Encoded At Heart' begins with a grand piano and Glühmann's beautiful voice that is only accompanied by piano and drums in a track that will captivate you with the singing that the German vocalist proposes and that closes with an emotional guitar solo.

On the third track comes 'Start Of Your Life' which starts with a very eighties guitar with strong and vigorous drums and a repetitive but effective rhythm. It's not the best of 'One to Zero' but it doesn't ruin or tarnish what you've heard before.

'Unleashed Power' also begins with piano, but is more intrusive and emotional. It's more melancholic than 'Encoded At Heart' and the accompanying guitars on the fourth composition are cleaner, less effects-laden. Not only that, but there is a warmer and yet sadder feel to the song.

We close the first half of the album with 'Trust In Yourself', which is introduced with a synthesizer that emulates very soft trumpets and accompanies Glühmann's voice. After a few seconds, the guitars come in with a bang, very aggressive. The chorus is fabulous with Katja Flintsch's violin and the other members creating a solid aural slab.

In the second half of the album we are greeted by 'On My Odyssey' a very epic song with a guitar that for the first time takes centre stage being very colourful. Not only that, but the violins and bass build a very effective duo. The piano and synthesizers are not mere extras, they all have their moments and their spaces to fill the melody. Everything works, nothing is out of place, it's a perfect song.

A very dramatic piano greets us on the seventh track entitled, 'Part of Me', which continues in that sad tone adding to the strings and vocals. Not only is it, we have a drum kit that appears next, extremely solid with bass lines that give balance to the composition. The song then moves from sorrow to the despair you hear in the song and Glühmann's singing.

'Worlds Apart' is a track that builds from the vocals, with instrumentation that embellishes the song. Again we have that sad and desperate duality.

The penultimate composition, 'Go Viral' has an electronic and metal sonority, with certain echoes of Muse with a keyboard and guitar that fill the spaces in a dynamic track that contains an extremely metal instrumental section, which is well constructed and adds two solos, a piano and a guitar solo that leads to the closing.

The album closer, 'Not a Goodbye', begins in the same rhythm as the previous two tracks, however it is the guitar that takes the lead role. In a captivating atmosphere and a step-by-step construction of a composition that adds piano, guitar, bass and drums. It's not extraordinary, we won't have big, intricate instrumental passages. But there is an effort to make it all sound original, fresh and not repetitive. A song that lasts 10 minutes, but it's short.

Sylvan didn't create a mind blowing album, it's not that progressive rock full of layers, arrangements, solos, moments of individual or group talent, but it conquers. This is thanks to the compositional and emotional approach that conveys joy, sorrow, drama and even despair. All this is achieved mainly in the voice of Marco Glühmann, who is the main protagonist of this album. But the German band doesn't get a perfect or top mark, they even pass with the minimum mark, here there is no Genesis, Pink Floyd or King Crimson and it shows.

Very good album, one of the best of the year.

 One to Zero by SYLVAN album cover Studio Album, 2021
4.06 | 146 ratings

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One to Zero
Sylvan Neo-Prog

Review by BrufordFreak
Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars These guys are just so professional!

I don't think they've released a single song much less album since peaking with their 2006 masterpiece, Posthumous Silence that has felt underwhelming or "phoned in." Marco and Company always give 100%--to composition, engineering, production, and, of course, to performance. And there is no one in Prog World that I can think of who has performed at a higher, more sincere level for the past 15 years as singer Marco Glühmann. So, why should we expect anything to change with this 2021 release? IT DOESN'T!

1. "Bit by Bit" (6:16) hard driving surprise. Something different! (8.5/10)

2. "Encoded at Heart" (6:42) a more-typical Sylvan tension-filled ballad-like opening over which Marco applies his plaintive tones like no one else can. Very engaging melodies and chorus. (8.75/10)

3. "Start of Your Life" (3:14) sloggy rocker. (Are the boys finally tiring?) (8/10)

4. "Unleashed Power" (7:31) a nice minute piano and picked electric guitar for the intro. Marco joins in, singing in a deep-voiced whisper up front and personal. Really nice/intriguing chord shifts after the first verse. Bass and drums join in for the chorus as piano becomes dominant accompaniment to Marco's singing. Cool thick, deep, fretless bass play over the next section. Then it gets heavy. And dark. Brooding. Until Marco goes angelic for the next "voice in my head" chorus. Beautiful! What a contrast to the bass and drumming beneath! This is what masters of their craft can do! Doesn't quite reach the heights and crescendos as promised (or as previous Sylvan works would have done) but a very satisfying, mature and masterful song--and definitely a top three song. (13.5/15)

5. "Trust in Yourself" (5:33) one of Marco's multiple personality expressions--delicate and heavy, hopeful and depressing. I just love the confidence with which he sings/performs--as if no one or nothing can disturb his groove, his craft. However, the first half of this song seems merely a setup/display vehicle precisely for Marco's talent. The instrumental C section has a nice viola solo and then an interesting searing guitar solo follows before Marco & b vox close it out. (8.5/10)

6. "On My Odyssee" (6:26) interesting synth strings play opens sounding very much like a chamber ensemble as Marco enters with his vocal. Latin-like rhythm section joins in with acoustic guitar and piano filling between the drums and bass. The classically-imitative "strings" are still present--and embellished by viola and electric guitar soli in the third and fourth minutes. Guitarist Jonny Beck is different from previous Sylvan guitarists--more classic rock instead of Hackett/Rothery-like. I think I like him! The second half of the song really blends well--especially the strummed acoustic guitar and vocal performance--but the multiple layers of soloing guitars is also very cool. (8.5/10)

7. "Part of Me" (9:16) melancholy solo piano opens this one--45 seconds before Marco enters. Another remarkably controlled, mature performance from the first note. Very cool section after the first verse in which multiple voices present harmonized lyrics. Viola joins in for the second verse to nice counter effect. At 4:30 an instrumental passage is suddenly joined by full bank of orchestra strings--this is great--but then pulsing electric guitar power chords enter to try to build tension beneath Marco's treated voice. The problem here is that the volume levels on Marco's voice are way too low--making it sound like he's singing from the next room over. In the seventh minute, we return to more of the form and motifs of the first two verses--though the drums and bass are more insistent, more driving. In the eight minute Marco pleads over the orchestra strings before giving way to an awesome Sylvan- esque electric guitar solo. Despite the remarkably slow pace of this song, it never feels boring or draggy--always remains interesting and engaging. A top three song for me--probably my favorite. (18/20)

8. "Worlds Apart" (3:58) hard hits of electric piano chords with eerie synth and guitar riffs support Marco's sensitive vocal until the one minute mark when Marco's brief chorus breaks into a contrasting abrasive aggression. A second round follows before Marco and female background vocals weave in a kind of rondo chorus. Nice! (8.5/10)

9. "Go Viral" (6:41) computer sequences provide techno-pop instrumental fabric and rhythm tracks until the band jumps heavily into the fold at 0:50. Cool! One of Marco's masterful semi-rap vocals ensues before the heavy chorus section over which he delivers his trademark power vocals. A powerful and inventive heavy metal instrumental passage fills the middle of the song, but the choruses continue to fill me with a slightly disappointing "I've heard this before" feeling. (8.75/10)

10. "Not a Goodbye" (10:14) Great lead guitar work in the fifth minute. Another flawless and emotional vocal performance over some perhaps less-than-sensational music. I mean: take away Marco's vocals from any and all of these songs and you have what amounts to very standard, almost ordinary heavy Neo Prog soundscapes. Add Herr Glühmann's magical instrument and you have the very real possibility of achieving something extraordinary--he's that important--and that good. My other top three song. (17.5/20)

Total Time 65:51

While I cannot say that I am displeased or disappointed with the songs collected on this album--they all follow the formulae that have made Sylvan such a dependable success over the past 20 years--I have to admit that I was hoping for more "new" and adventurous forms, sounds, and structures. What I can't complain about--something I will NEVER complain about--is the experience of being in the presence of the magical gifts of one of the best vocalists progressive rock music has ever seen; Marco Glühmann is on a whole other cloud of mastery and professionalism!

B/four stars; an excellent addition of melodic, masterful and heavy Neo Prog to any prog lover's music collection. As familiar and perhaps formulaic as it is, it's hard to dislike such well-crafted, well-engineered, and well-performed music.

 One to Zero by SYLVAN album cover Studio Album, 2021
4.06 | 146 ratings

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One to Zero
Sylvan Neo-Prog

Review by lazland
Prog Reviewer

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.

 One to Zero by SYLVAN album cover Studio Album, 2021
4.06 | 146 ratings

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One to Zero
Sylvan Neo-Prog

Review by FredStock

3 stars Firstly I'd not listened to Sylvan before trying this album. I'd not even heard a song. I had just seen the name mentioned across the usually prog rock forums and websites and thought I should give it a go.

I have to admit I often struggle with modern progressive rock and tend to lean more towards the classic prog of the 70s so I am making a concerted effort to give these current acts a chance and have them change my mind. This album being the first of a few I am going to review. I am pretty useless at reviewing but I needed to find something to do and I'm always critiquing/discussing music with family and friends and thought I'd give it a go. I must add that I will listen to an album a minimum of 5 times to give a fair review (A must for progressive music in my view).

So Sylvan are a German progressive rock band that supposedly show influences of Pink Floyd, Marillion and Genesis according to Wikipedia. Sounded right up my street from the outset.

The bands German roots come across strong with the accent on the vocals. A nice voice, although I have to say personally I struggle with most of these European bands and the accents. But that is just me and I can appreciate this will not be an issue for most.

The album has a running time of around 65 minutes and is a concept album. Apparently not their first concept album. I shall have to explore. I have read that this album is "an autobiography of an artificial intelligence born into the problems facing contemporary society." I can't say I picked that up from listening but I'm am definitely a sucker more for the music than the lyrics, so no surprises there.

The first track "Bit by bit" is great. I'm hearing a touch of early Riverside here and each member of the band is given a chance to show what they can do. About 5mins in there is a cool, dark metal riff which I love. I nice tune and sets the tone for the album nicely.

A beautiful slow piano part starts the second track with the track building all the way to the end. The highlight of the track being when the guitar guitar solo kicks in around the 5min mark. The vocal choirlike chants are very catchy here, especially after a couple of listens.

On to track 3, "Start of Your Life". I can't say I love this track. It has a more pop like vibe. The intro guitar riff doesn't quite do it for me although the riff itself is ok, I think the production may be the problem here in that its taken the raw guitar driven sound away from the riff and I have to say I'm not as big a fan of this particular track.

So onto track 4 "Unleashed Power". The start of the track certainly doesn't appear to match the title of the track from the outset. The title gives the impression of a more heavy technical number, but here we have a very mellow piano driven song and it remains that way throughout the whole 7 and a half minutes. Nothing wrong with it though. Some lovely clean guitar soloing tones and licks in there. A solid track.

Trust in Yourself. More of a heavy edge to parts of this track. This track has a beautiful break down later in the song with a lovely violin part. There's great wacky and interesting sounding guitar solo towards the end of the track which is probably the first time I found anything different/unique about Sylvan's sound. I just wish they had made the solo a little longer and maybe had seen the track out with it.

On My Odyssee. Some super cool guitar playing on this track. Probably my favourite on the album. I love the way the guitar soloing sees out this track. Again, very early Riverside. Its a shame this style of guitar playing isn't used more throughout the album, although I must say it probably makes you enjoy it more when it actually comes in.

Part Of Me. Another slow starter. Very nice orchestration here and probably the best guitar solo on the album. Great guitar tone and the atmosphere is spot on.

'Go Viral' is a much appreciated change from the usual piano intro. About 3mins in we get to a nice heavy metal-like guitar riff/instrumental section which I enjoy very much every time I listen to the album. Here you get a cool synth solo again, similar to that in the opening track. I like this track very much.

'Not a Goodbye', another slow starter, this time not piano, but some delicate guitar picking. Pleasant enough. But the highlight of this track again has got to be the guitar soloing toward the end of the track. The album ending as it begins with an unearthly like space sound.

All in all this album is a good album. Not one that has changed my mind on modern prog though. Its an album I will for sure listen to again but I cannot rate higher than a 3 stars. This album cannot be put in with the classic albums such as "Selling England by the Pound" or "Thick as a Brick", so not a masterpiece at all. And for me I wouldn't quite put it in the 'excellent additions' either. So 'Good' but not essential seems a fitting place for this album. Possibly a down side to the album is the way most of the songs can be very similar in how they are constructed. Slow piano intros, mostly mellow with a build up the end. I also find modern progressive rock, can often sound like it wouldn't be out of place on the Eurovision song contest. Now, that could just be down the the European accents maybe. And in parts this album has that sound for me.

I have to say I hear nothing that really resembles Pink Floyd or Genesis here. But I can may be hear a bit of Marillion in there, particularly in the guitar soloing. The highlight of this album is clearly the guitar work for me. Like I said earlier, I really am a music over vocals kind of guy and I appreciate I haven't mentioned vocals on this album very much. I want to add, the vocals do their job without ever standing out. This meaning they also don't stand out in a bad way either which is a positive as prog vocalists can often fall short for me.

A decent effort. I shall listen through their back catalogue for sure.

 One to Zero by SYLVAN album cover Studio Album, 2021
4.06 | 146 ratings

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One to Zero
Sylvan Neo-Prog

Review by Michael919

4 stars An enigma for me

I really struggled with this one. Honestly, if it wasn't sitting atop the 2021 board since its release, I probably wouldn't have given it as many listens to let it grow. Why didn't it click initially? Because there are too many little parts (see second track) that turned me off and kept me from really enjoying the REALLY good parts.

I am new to Sylvan. I gave Home a few spins a while back, but I couldn't get past the theme of the concept album. It's too disturbing for me to enjoy, having a teen daughter and a friend who is having challenges with his.

One to Zero starts off with a 5* track with Bit by Bit. What a great opener! It has so much of what I enjoy in my preferred prog bands of the past 30 years.

My aversion and attraction to this album rears its head in the second track, Encoded at Heart. Marco's voice is beautiful, and that is my problem: It can be too pretty. Too adult rock or new country sounding. At times. These times make me want to move on to something else, it's just not my thing. On this track, I am loosing interest, and then the chorus with Porcupine Tress sounding harmony kicks in. Bang, got my attention again and the ending is very nice.

Unleashed Power is also a roller coaster, rotating between very brief 3 star moments and great, longer, 5 star segments, like around 4:40

Trust in Yourself also has that adult pop rock sound intermixed quickly with great stuff and fantastic atmospherics with keys and guitar and violin at 3:20 or so, with faint, Porcupine Tree vibe. Very good tune in the end.

On my Odyssee starts with nice orchestration and interesting folk-like vocals, then, darn, more adult pop for a moment, but then coolness with harmonies and mellotron just before the 1 minute mark, then more cheesiness (to me). Get me off this roller coaster. Then at 1:45 the quite cool chorus kicks in, more orchestration and a cool interlude with guitars and keys and violins'ok, I'll stay on the ride a little longer. Very nice finishing jam

Part of Me starts with very beautiful, melancholic piano. Very nice. Nice, fitting vocals here. Guitars with Chorus and Delay and keys take over and more Porcupine Tree like awesomeness follows, from the harmonies to the atmospherics. The magic start at 3:23. Wow! Repetitive, pedal tone guitar riff with gentle ride symbol and a mirage of other instruments create a progressive and wonderful soundscape. This is worth the price of admission. It kicks into a cool, heavier section with delay laden vocals before fading and moving back to earlier themes and a nice closing guitar solo.

Worlds Apart opens with a nice, melancholic chord progression and layers of coolness before breaking into a chorus that once again flirts with something a little too pretty for my taste before returning to a darker vibe again. Creative and nice sounding vocal layers at the end.

Go Viral starts with a very cool, retro, video game sounding, synth section that is dark and brooding. You just feel that it could explode at any point, and it does, into a lovely guitar and key driven riff before switching into the first verse. The cool riff that following the into returns to be a nice backdrop to the pre-chorus. There's a nice, short piano and atmospheric interlude at 2:53 and then'..WHAM! A heavy metal jam launches, reminiscent of Tool, with a synth drone tone in the background, once again like a Steven Wilson recording, following by a guitar and keys solo and then just guitar. Very tasteful. Back to the heavy jam and then a seamless shift back to a verse, pre-chorus and chorus. Well done. Bravo!

Not a Goodbye begins with an interesting beat and building up of keys and guitars right into wonderful chorus guitar arpeggio section and the first verse. The repetitive guitar arpeggios through parts of this track are reminiscent of something from KC's Red or Steven Wilson's Ancestral. Wonderful jams ensue. Album ends with similar sounds as it begins. Full circle.

So there we have it. I think the very positive parts are enough to make me think very highly of this album. My aversion to some parts is my own problem and one that may fade with more listens. Nevertheless, I can't give this a 5- star rating until I get past that. But that's just me. It really is a good album, almost great.

 One to Zero by SYLVAN album cover Studio Album, 2021
4.06 | 146 ratings

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One to Zero
Sylvan Neo-Prog

Review by alainPP

5 stars SYLVAN is releasing its 10th album 'One to Zero' on a lifelong concept of artificial intelligence in an attempt to save the world from humans. Sylvan is the Teutonic metal prog with a voice, melodies, rhythms, epic, sensitivity and a birth since 1998, neo prog between Arena and RPWL, further a little from Pink Floyd, Marillion or Eloy. A variation of keyboards, a melodic guitar, Marco in the voice and surges of adrenaline to give in sophisticated rock art far enough from instrumental flights. Sylvan is a flagship group, so let's read below to shed some light on our lantern.

"Bit By Bit" with rhythmic intro, atmospheric progressive rock, nebulous on the sounds of computers; melody, a Marco voice at the height of his art, energetic breaks and the eternal PORCUPINE TREE or ... SYLVAN in the background; synthesizer and Moog behind due to an angry guitar, in short it follows with "Encoded At Heart" a long romantic ballad on the grand piano, text to save the world; bass which provides the musical framework and it continues to rise mid-tempo, backing vocals, SAGA guitar to the Floydian guitar solo, robotic air hovering for a sensual slap; it continues with "Start Of Your Life" and its synthetic hypnotic rhythm, groove, pop when I say that the decade of 2020 will be! Guitars come to offer a reshaped 80's tune, innovative between SOEN, PARADISE LOST and SIMPLE MINDS; edgy, simple but concise and perfect. "Unleashed Power" for a frank cut with crystalline piano, intrusive keyboards and the sensitive, emotional, sprinkled voice of Marco; melancholy melody, the one that makes you cry for joy, that sends you into the ether; Intimate then atmospheric heavy piano bringing in fact a soothing electric solo. What guides on calm and catchy "Trust In Yourself", based on musical breaks; Marco again at the center of the title; gentle break with strings and cello by Katia Flintchs; pleasurable, orgasmic solo, crazy on the central base and synthetic metronomic final.

"On My Odyssey" with violin and bass dub, extreme sounds; memorizable chorus for traveling, progressive variation with abundance of instruments, folk violin and percussion, the guitar à la AL DI MEOLA sending very far, Spain, South America I don't know, but the final rise puts Marco's voice in full phase with the instruments; title of frightening sensitivity; "Part Of Me" with this melancholy piano again for one of the emotional centerpieces, plaintive violin, depressive voice filled with hope, hypnotizing latent air; 1/3 break on a symphonic climb à la MARILLION, it rises, it climbs, it cascades down just on the voice and the piano and it sets off again without firing a blow with emotion. "Worlds Apart" first piano and title to give free rein to the voice, I who adore the instruments and the voice like yet another instrument I am out of the game; but pleasantly offside because you have the most beautiful melody sung, bewitching; fairy or mermaid voice games at the end. "Go Viral" for the electro-acoustic intro at MUSE, it takes off suddenly, AI finally takes control; a tune with lockers based on keyboards making the voice leap, making a headbanger, it's been a while; break at the SUPERTRAMP for a few moments to give yourself an end of the world riff; heavy drums, nervous then airy guitar, crystalline for a time before returning to the end of the pandemic, of our life ?. "Not A Goodbye" yes it's not over! Its heavy synthetic metronomic, hypnotic guitar, MOTORS tune suddenly (remember "Airport"), memory atmosphere with one of the most beautiful voices undoubtedly for a dantesque symphonic finale; nothing extraordinary just associations of notes, climbs, flights; a limited hard prog solo shows that Jonathan is very good; the riff is somewhat reminiscent of AYREON for the mix of genres, the end in two parts for the 80's oldies sequence; title of reset with buzz, after a digital suicide where the man takes the reins.

Okay, I'm not hiding, I love SYLVAN; but if the album had been flat I would have said so; here simplicity and emotion, destruction and hope, intensity and diversity, prog rock, neo prog, hard rock touches, symphonic, this group touches everything is wonderful. On CD, Vinyl gatefold and digital, produced by Kalle Wallner and Yogi Lang who also threw a few notes on it, album potentially in the top, keep it for said.

 Deliverance by SYLVAN album cover Studio Album, 1999
3.43 | 109 ratings

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Deliverance
Sylvan Neo-Prog

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams

4 stars While neo-prog tendencies weren't anything new to Germany as bands like Neuschwanstein, Anyone's Daughter and Sirius were on par with the British explosion that occurred in the 80s Marillion led run, most of the bands were more of a clever mix of the contemporary symphonic prog upgrades and the melding of classic 70s Genesis and Camel elements to their sound. The Hamburg based team of guitarist Kay Söhl and keyboardist Volker Söhl (twin brothers) with guitarist Matthias Harder had no problem looking to the future while adopting the UK sensibilities of the past in this case meaning the 80s updated version of the symphonic prog world that splintered off.

While many begin their SYLVAN journey with the brilliant 2006 release "Posthumous Silence," the roots of the band extend all the way back to 1990 when the musical trio would form under the moniker Temporal Temptation but would soon change it to Chamäleon with artwork and a sound clearly inspired by 80s Marillion. The band was rounded off by Patrick Münster on bass and Marco Glühmann on vocals. Despite the setbacks, the band was encouraged by a lot of positive feedback as they were developing their own brand of neo-prog and the band stuck it out throughout the 90s but found it hard to get their debut released so it wasn't until 1999 that the fully formed band named SYLVAN found its first album in the form of DELIVERANCE.

DELIVERANCE contained all the essential neo-prog elements such as piano based melodies, dramatic soap opera lyrics conveying the spectrum of human emotions and compositional fortitude that found many proggy twists and turns developed around a story which seems scrapped together from the many demos that the band released in the years before this debut. All those years of paying their dues really paid off because the band, while not exactly living up to their potential as heard on future releases, developed a mature and sophisticated neo-prog album worthy of the modern day with a nice mix between Pink Floyd inspired space rock, Genesis and Marillion infused symphonic prog and outbursts of hard rock moments. Likewise the band had learned to master the art of long epic sprawling compositions with DELIVERANCE showing off four tracks over the ten minute mark and an album closer "A Fairytale Ending" nearly hitting the seventeen minute mark.

DELIVERANCE is chock full of all those beautiful melodies and atmospheric backdrops anyone could ever hope for on a neo-prog album. The band had clearly been studying their idols quite well. There are dramatic spoken word dialogues, excellent backing vocals, sound effects, a sense of compositional surprise and the art of tension building, contrast and crescendoing up to release. The complexities of these longer tracks are quite brilliant actually and they remind me more of the those Colossus Project type release that have emerged in the 21st century more than most neo-prog of the 90s. SYLVAN went the extra mile to add more dynamic elements than their contemporaries like Arena or IQ were pumping out at the same time. In fact you could say that SYLVAN was extremely meticulous in how they handled all the elements of their sound not only regarding the compositional fortitude but the dynamics, production and vocal phrasing.

While most have come late to the SYLVAN game, it's amazing how beautiful this debut album DELIVERANCE is as it reaches the lengthy playing time of 70 minutes but in its sonic wake, the listener is treated to one of the great neo-prog bands that while not exactly at their peak still deliver a passionate and well performed album. While mature for a debut, DELIVERANCE does have a few drawbacks. There are the expected runs of musical motifs that outwore their welcome particularly at the beginning of the album and there are times when Glühmann's vocals sound a bit like Elton John! However the strength of the album clearly comes from the lengthy tracks on the second half of the album and to be honest, none of the others are bad in any way. There simply could've been a better editing job. Great album even though many better ones were to come.

3.5 rounded up (since it's not getting enough love here)

 Home by SYLVAN album cover Studio Album, 2015
3.82 | 212 ratings

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Home
Sylvan Neo-Prog

Review by BrufordFreak
Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

5 stars I've been listening to this album for a couple of months with increasing enjoyment with each listen. As a matter of fact, I can say that this is the first Sylvan release since Posthumous Silence to truly captivate me. Marco and crew (a much changed crew since PS) have returned to more of the elements of progressive rock while at the same time using their greatest strength to its utmost. Of course, in that I speak of the marvelous voice of Marco Glühmann doing what he does best: telling a compelling story of the challenges and pitfalls of being human in this confusing modern world. I think Marco's voice is the strongest I've ever heard it--using all of his tricks and strengths in perfect timing with the emotion of the lyrics--of each word--embellishing the music perfectly. And I really like this stripped down, simplified music mixed with elements of electronica, classical, chamber and Sylvan's usual solid rhythm section. I have to agree with one of the previous reviewers that sitting through 80 minutes while trying to remain fully attendant is challenging. (But, even sitting through the entire play through of my favorite album of all-time, The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway, is a challenging thing to achieve.) But the rewards of having a song from this album pass through my iPod Shuffle's random playlist is always rewarding and enjoyable. Especially as I have gotten more familiar with them. Consummate professionals with a very polished and straightforward presentation, they have the experience and maturity to employ all of the "tricks" to hook the prog listener. I love it! I love the throbbing bass! the way the grand piano is recorded to sound like a classical piano, the powerful yet succinct guitar solos, the deliberate arrangements and orchestrated sections, and, of course, the sublime voice of one of progressive rock's all-time masters!

There are no songs that I skip or dislike but I find myself really tuning in when I hear: 1. "Not Far from the Sky" (6:31) (9/10); 4. "With the Eyes of a Child" (4:19) (10/10); 6. "The Sound of Her World" (9:23) (/10); the refreshingly genius and emotion-packed 7. "Sleep Tight" (5:31) (10/10); the MARILLION-like 8. "Off Her Hands" (3:33) (9/10); the best song on the album, 9. "Shine" (6:19) (10/10); the hypnotic 10. "Point of No Return" (5:25) (10/10); and the gorgeous finale, "Home" (6:05) (10/10).

Such a polished, mature album of excellent and original Neo-Prog.

 Home by SYLVAN album cover Studio Album, 2015
3.82 | 212 ratings

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Home
Sylvan Neo-Prog

Review by Windhawk
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars German band SYLVAN has been around for just about a quarter of a century at the time of writing, and for the last decade or so they have been among the more popular progressive rock bands coming out of Germany, with their 2006 album "Posthumous Silence" often cited as their finest moment. "Home" is their ninth studio album, released through the German label Gentle Art of Music in 2015.

A thought that frequently struck in my mind when listening to this CD is that this specific album would be the perfect one to pull out for your wife or girlfriend if they just don't understand your fascination with progressive rock. Play it to them on a long car trip, and I suspect that those who so far have been mystified by this type of music would start comprehending it, and perhaps even start to like it themselves. Because this is an album that speaks with and to emotions as I experience it, music that speaks to the heart and the soul, with haunting emotional-laden moods aplenty. Those who find such a description alluring should give this CD a spin, especially if you tend to enjoy emotional lead vocals and music with a strong emphasis on melody in general.

Thanks to ProgLucky for the artist addition. and to Quinino for the last updates

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