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progVisions

progVisions is a progressive rock e-zine, published in English and made by an international group of members. Our objective is to become a centre of information that contributes to the knowledge, growth and development of progressive rock.

album reviews

album review

Sylvan - X-Rayed - 2004
“You are simply irreplaceable
You are my long awaited miracle
You are so near but still untraceable
You are...”

[Excerpt of lyrics “you are”]

After the releases “Deliverance”, “Encounters” and “Artificial paradise” this “X-Rayed” is the fourth album of the German band Sylvan. People who recently lost their loved ones will be touched if they follow the emotionally sung lyrics of Marco Glühmann. For me the lyrics have a deep impact because it sounds all so familiar. On their previous album you could also find a song (“That’s why it hurts”) with lyrics that are cutting through your soul. If you know the band already you will know that such lyrics would fit their musical style. But musically spoken the band prevents that it would go over the top.

Current line-up:
Marco Glühmann – vocals; Kay Söhl – guitar; Sebastian Harnack – bass; Volker Söhl – keyboards; Matthias Harder – drums.

In my review of their previous album “Artificial paradise” I wrote that “the band managed to make their most mature album up to date”. Sylvan is following that path with the new album “X-Rayed”. When you listen to the lyrics of this album you will recognize that there is a kind of theme or concept for “X-rayed”. It’s about the “melting pot of emotions” you have to face when you loose your loved one. On “Artificial paradise” you can find the already mentioned track “That’s why it hurts”. I wrote the following lines in my review:

The second track "That's why it hurts" (7:08) is my favorite track and it has even more emotion then the opener. You only have to read the lyrics and imagine an emotional and souring guitar solo, to understand how it must sound.

"I shed all my tears, alone in this world
but the longer I weep the more it burns
I whisper my pain; try to fill it with words
but you took them away, that's why it hurts
Read the last words that you left me 'cos there's nothing else to do
Seems as if I hear your voice … so I look up, but where are you?
Don't know how long I can stand this - still your perfume in our bed
God, this emptiness will kill me … if I'm not already dead"

People who are left by his/her partner this year will understand this extremely well and I think will love it (like myself) or hate it maybe because there is so much emotion in it. I immediately loved this track and after reading the lyrics for the first time I was a little bit shocked because it sounds so familiar to me. The positive thing is that such black periods in the human life often bring the most beautiful and emotional music. It is a slow track with beautiful melodies. The vocals are sung with great passion and the ending guitar solo is very melodic and played also with a lot of passion.

When I was working on the review of “X-Rayed” I got a kind of Déjà vu feeling because I was at the point of writing almost the same review. The theme of “That’s why it hurts” has become the maintheme of this new album. It’s understandable for me because when you have to deal with this matter it can take you several years to more or less recover. But after that period you will notice that you have changed because a part of that pain will always be with you. You will bear those marks the rest of your life. But it is also a learning process and in the end you will end up as a stronger person. I find it courageous of Marco Glühmann to open his soul to the world in this way.

But what about the music. To be honest with you, there are no big surprises. The band is still mixing heavy parts with more harmonic parts that have often beautiful melodies. And you always find some reflections of contemporary music in their music. Here are my notes for the ten tracks:

“So easy” (8:19)
Melancholic and slow first part, second part with heavy guitar work, tension is building up and explodes into melodic guitar solo.

“So much more” (3:07)
Delicate ballad with heartbreaking and emotionally sung lyrics.

“Lost” (7:16)
Heavy side of Sylvan with some Dream Theater influences. This track has a lot of tension and emotion. In the end the Dream Theater influences are mixed with a short melodic guitar solo.

“You are” (5:30)
The harmonic side of Sylvan with a breathtaking guitar melody.

“Fearless” (9:11)
Up-tempo track with the typical Sylvan mix of heavy and harmonic parts. Very nice bass work and tasteful use of keyboards and sound samples. Delicious melodic guitar solo in the end.

“Belated gift” (4:07)
Up-tempo track with vocal refrain.

“Today” (3:10)
Delicate ballad with beautiful melody and passionate sung lyrics.

“Through my eyes” (6:50)
Heavy track with intense vocals and the melodic guitar solo in the end, more or less in the vein of the track “Fearless”.

“Given-Used-Forgotten” (12:55)
The highlight of this album. A varied track with beautiful melodic guitar work and a lot of tension. Like on the whole album, the band is going for the composition and does not get bogged down in endlessly freaking solos. This count especially for the keyboard work of Volker Söhl. He has an important role in Sylvan’s music. And you could easily neglect the other members if you are listening to one of the melodic guitar solos. However those solos are only occasionally present if you compare “X-Rayed” with the first two albums. All elements of “X-Rayed” are returning in this single track.

“This world is not for me” (8:20)
Closing track of the album with maybe the most beautiful melodic guitar work of this album. The track opens slowly but gradually the tension of the music is building up to a climax. Look out for your speakers because there are some fantastic low frequencies in the end of this track.

Well … once again I failed to write a short and compact review. But I wanted to make clear that this is not a mediocre album (like you can read in some of those short reviews of reviewers who played the album only twice!). Sylvan made again a good album with a lot of emotional moments and great passionate sung vocals. And I must give the band a compliment to keep the music “simple”. In this way the music is even more powerful and the vocals of singer Marco Glühmann can shine out more.

Douwe Fledderus - July 2004.
rating - Sylvan [Point Music]

 

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