Album Review: Sylvan – “Home”

(Gentle Art of Music/eOne)

I suppose that not having heard of these German progressive rockers until now isn’t the greatest compliment to this review, but I will say that I was excited enough by what I heard from their eighth opus Home to warrant writing it. I’m quite reminded of Anathema by the release, especially in Marco Gluhmann’s vocal performance, which reminds me a lot of Daniel Cavanaugh and at times Maynard James Keenan. As for the album itself, it’s heavily melodic and has something of a dark beauty to it, feeling a little passionate as well as a little fragile and ultimately seeming rather personal in tone. Yet amidst all of the subtle melancholy, there is a gleaming light of wonder in the form of the band’s instrumental compositions which don’t ever seem to go overboard with brazen heaviness and instead stick to a more traditional performance. Often times it’s quite romantic, hugely emotional and may be admittedly too much for some listeners. But that’s alright, because it will appeal to those who seem more in touch with the feminine, emotional side of existence and it fits very well for that time of day where the moon is risen high and the sky and the stars twinkle our delight within their nearly endless glimmer. I almost feel guilty for listening to Home during the daylight hours, because it just seems like stargazing music, essentially the kind of music that I would rather have reverberating in my ears through headphones whilst sitting atop a hill on a starlit night. But as I said, there are still a few moments of punchy drumming and a notably heavier stance with “Shine” which is a definite album highlight. Yet oddly enough, “Shine” feels out of place on such an atmospheric recording and it does manage to kill the moment a little even though it’s definitely the most spirited track here. It’s also the kind of piece that I could listen to over and over again, as it seems like pure magic. Home is essentially a very long recording and fills nearly the entire eighty minute recording limit of a standard compact disc and it gets weirdly heavier on just a couple of tracks before towards its ending, which kills the whole stargazer feel, that eighty percent of this album is comprised of. I almost feel like “Shine” and “Point Of No Return” should be bonus tracks or something, because they just don’t seem to fit with the rest of the material and break up the melancholy, which doesn’t sit right with me, again; regardless of how much I’m elated with “Shine.” But honesty is my job and that’s why I’m here. Listeners will find that the first half and closing section of Home fit like a glove, but be prepared when your mood is killed and your candle is snuffed by two unexpected jaunts on the record. I never thought I’d ever say that one of the best songs on an album is a mood killer, but with Home that certainly appears to be the case. But if that’s all I’ve got to gripe about here, then these guys are definitely doing something write in the two decades (they’ve been a band since 1996) that they’ve been writing and performing music. In any case, don’t let my bitching stop you from checking out this worthwhile progressive rock release that I thought was good enough to showcase and promote here in New Noise. (Eric May)

Purchase Home here.

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