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Sylvan - Artificial Paradise CD (album) cover





3.88 | 186 ratings

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4 stars . . . In my not so humble opinion. . .

Artificial Paradise is the third release by German neo-proggers, Sylvan. While the album sounds great, and there are some great parts to it, there are parts in between the greatness that doesn't quite grab you the way a masterpiece should.

The opening soundscape always brings a thrill to my ears, the sounds of a casino paint a perfect metaphor for the album, the search for perfect love in a world of imperfections. Lead vocalist, Marco Gluhmann's distinctive voice carries this album from the very beginning as he intones, "Desperately depressed or even deeply hopeless, this was rather simple for you." Clear and soulful, almost pleadingly he winds his way through the questioning, "Deep Inside" as he implores his muse to remember who they once were. This is the first real highlight of the album, with a strong melody and emotional, well written lyrics this song gets a full five stars.

Unfortunately, the quality of the songs kind of drop off for the next thirty-nine minutes or so. "That's Why it Hurts" and "Human Apologies" have some good moments and "Around the World" has a nice jazzy feel at times.

Yes, I just totally glossed over the middle of the album.

The good news is that the title track makes for a killer closer. We start with some of the same ambience that we heard at the beginning of the CD in a lush soundscape that builds into the song, proper. The music begins with a series of conflicting rhythms growing into an almost chaotic cacophony of noise before it suddenly resolves to a dark yet wistful avenue for Marco to once again paint the landscape of emotions. We first hear the catchy chorus here, "Different faces on the other side, in our artificial paradise, in a world full of fates and illusions, do we see them?" The song continues from there through a series of moods, growing in intensity until they reach a peak almost reminiscent of Mike Patton's ranting. Just as we get to the angry climax, the angry base drops out and we slide back into the culminating chorus, a repeat of the beginning one though full of lush keys, a female choir and a sweeping guitar solo. The effects on the choir gives it the tinge of synthesized, dovetailing beautifully with the artificial theme of the album. This song gets five stars as well.

As with all of Sylvan's work, this in an emotional album with crystal clear production and well blended music. Everyone on this album sounds good, though, no one really stands out except for Gluhmann. There aren't any individual efforts that make the album. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, just a very well balanced band. Artificial Paradise is not a perfect album, but it's a really good one with some great songs on it. The bookends, especially the title track bumps this from a mid three star rating to a four star one.

Roland113 | 4/5 |


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