With “Home”, for the first time since their critically acclaimed “Posthumous Silence” of 2006 Sylvan have taken the chance to create another full-on concept album. Even though the Hamburg natives attach great importance to creating contextually comprehensive pieces of art with any of their albums, this time around Sylvan have upped their ambition another notch and taken on the mammoth task of building an overall concept around the never ending quest of the human condition for “Home” – that very special place that can provide a feeling of complete safety.
In order to live up to the task, Sylvan have worked out a lyrical concept that tells the story of the rediscovery of the record’s protagonist’s long-forgotten childhood memories and how that way a hostile world reveals itself to her bit by bit – a world of no hope and no home. That is how the past collides with the future in today’s world and inevitably raises the question: how can one actually find that special place that is capable of conveying that feeling of safety? Consequently a maze composed of worries, doubts and fears ensues and creates the confusion that indeed does trigger the protagonist to go and seek the truth. Once found, however, the new discovery threatens to make the pillars of her world view collapse. What decision will she make?
Jonathan Beck - guitars
One of the first things I noticed when I read the info sheet that their new label (Gentle Art of Music) provided to the press, is that Sylvan is again searching for a new guitar player. Maybe it will be Jonathan Beck but he is mentioned on “Home” as a guest. The second thing is that the record company is labeling the band as a long become member of the European artrock A-list. Sylvan is a band that is crossing borders ... so if you would like to call their music artrock or symphonic progressive music ... who cares. The important thing is that Sylvan with their 9th studio album has again made a very consistent album without any weak points. Like “Sceneries” the new album “Home” is an album that only after several listening sessions reveals it's real beauty.
The album opens very strong with breathtaking melodies in “Not Far From The Sky”. The keyboard orchestrations of the intro are very beautiful. Then accompanied by piano and cello Marco is performing the first vocal lines in a slow and passionate way. The music slowly builds towards a climax. In the last years Marco Glühmann has developed into one of the best singers in this genre. Seamless the band walks into the second track “Shaped Out Of Clouds”. Here we can listen to the first soaring guitar parts of guest player Jonathan Beck. After the first ballad like atmospheres the music gets more power and a climax flows into one of the beautiful orchestrated main themes of this album.
“In Between” is a long (more than 10 minutes) track full of power. In this piece we hear the heavy and hard bits of Sylvan. But the song is diverse and the tempo slows down and we can enjoy a beautiful intermission with piano and acoustic guitar before the band goes full power again with a soaring electric guitar and synth part. After a slow romantic piano part follows a powerful ending. That romantic piano theme returns in the delicate sung “With The Eyes Of A Child”. A composition of pure beauty and wonderful orchestrations.
The slow opening of “Black And White” has a catchy and melodic vocal melody. The classical part that follows is very beautiful. It is a beautifully sung composition that slowly builds up in intensity and has some classical influences. The ending is up-tempo with an aggressive guitar. This flows into the next track entitled “ The Sound Of Her World”. A long (more than 9 minutes) and diverse track with some beautiful vocal melodies. The band sounds fresh and modern. The tension of the music is sometimes building up towards a climax. But you can also enjoy great melodic vocal parts.
In “Sleep Tight” the piano forms a bridge to the next musical part with a more aggressive guitar sound. “Off Her Hands” is a short song with beautiful vocal lines. The next track “Shine” is even more catchy but has a slow and delicate sung opening. This is as close as the music of Sylvan comes to a single without losing their own musical trademark. In the second part of the song we hear again some of the hard and heavy bits of Sylvan's music. But the vocal refrains are very catchy and could give the band some airplay on the radio. Acoustic guitar introduces us to the “Point Of No Return” in which we can hear besides the heavy electric guitars some breathtaking vocal melodies and refrains. In overall the song has a heavy and aggressive character.
But the band is slowly working towards the climax of the album with the last two songs of “Home”. First we get “All These Years” with passionate sung vocals. The music becomes more orchestrated and classical influenced towards the end. A slow piano part brings us to the climax and highlight of this wonderful album. “Home” is a state of bliss ... breathtaking melodies with amazing keyboard orchestrations, passionate sung vocals and the soaring guitar solo. This is Sylvan, this is “Home”, Sylvan is Home!
Well what can I say more. After the brilliant “Posthumous Silence” and the very good “Sceneries” albums the band made with “Home” again a very consistent album without any weak points. An album that is in balance. The first six tracks and the last ones are very strong. Like “Sceneries” the new album “Home” is an album that only after several listening sessions reveals it's real beauty. This time I would like to mention Volker Söhl which did a wonderful job on the beautiful keyboard orchestrations of this album. Maybe he is the heart of this mighty Sylvan. Highly recommended!