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(148:54 2CD, Progrock / SPV Records)
Prolusion. The German band SYLVAN has been a popular feature as a studio band and a live act for many years now, and although the roots of the band go all the way back to 1991, they didn't officially start out until 1998. This year Sylvan celebrates the fact that it is 10 years since they officially formed, and they have done so by releasing their first ever live recordings, the DVD "Posthumous Silence The Show" and this double live CD "Leaving Backstage", both of them recorded at the same concert in Hamburg unless I'm much mistaken.
Disc 1 (73:03)
TRACK LIST: 1. Eternity Ends 2:53 2. Bequest of Tears 3:05 3. In Chains 8:55 4. Bitter Symphony 1:25 5. Pane of Truth 9:14 6. No Earthly Reason 1:54 7. Forgotten Virtue 7:06 8. The Colors Changed 6:48 9. A Sad Sympathy 1:42 10. Questions 6:58 11. Answer to Life 6:09 12. Message From the Past 2:59 13. The Last Embrace 3:29 14. A Kind of Eden 4:48 15. Posthumous Silence 5:38 LINEUP: Jan Petersen – guitars Volker Sohl – keyboards Marco Gluhmann – vocals Sebastian Harnack – bass Matthias Harder – drums With: Guido Bungenstock – guitar Stefanie Richter – cello Petra Schechter – vocals Miriam Schnell – vocals Stephanie Hundtermark – vocals
Analysis. The first CD in this double CD set consists of tunes from one album, the critically acclaimed and highly popular concept creation "Posthumous Silence". Popularity as well as artistic integrity makes it natural for this release to dominate when Sylvan decided to issue a live CD, and many fans will probably appreciate that the band decided to perform the whole album live. For the uninitiated, “Posthumous Silence” was released in 2005, and is a concept album with a newly deceased girl, her diary and her father reading this diary after the girl's death as the main ingredients. With a fair bit of symbolism thrown in for good measure, as father, girl and diary easily can be seen as symbols of something entirely different, musically we're in the land of symphonic rock, with a foundation in the style developed by bands like Marillion in the ‘80s. Thus keyboards and synth layers are found everywhere in the compositions, often dominating the musical expression but also with more of a supportive role on some occasions. In the few instances when a synth isn't present a piano will take its place, and the piano is used extensively with synths too, underscoring the melody line, enriching the melody or simply to help conjure a certain atmosphere or mood. The guitar is less of a dominant instrument on these tunes than what one might expect from a progressive rock band, most times serving up melodic guitar licks or atmospheric solos. Some riff patterns and drawn out chords are delivered when needed; there are even a few segments with metal-influenced dark riff patterns, but quite often the sound of the guitar is relatively hidden in or beneath the sonic textures explored. Indeed, the bass guitar seems to be just as important as the regular guitar in these tunes, underscoring with dark, catchy melody lines and generally being a more important part of the melody structure than what is common. Still, the main feature of all the tracks, the element that adds nerve and tension to the performance and lift up the songs from being mainly atmospheric explorations and transforming them to something much more interesting, are the vocals. Marco Gluhman has a very likable, melodic voice, and conveys emotions like sadness and despair in a way that only can be described as haunting. There's not much added to the live version of these tunes, though. The performances are excellent, the songs aren't very different from their studio versions, and even the slight grit a live performance normally adds to a tune is noticeable more as a nuance than as a key feature. In this case that doesn't really matter though, as it's an excellent performance recorded here, and it is a release that will appeal to fans of Sylvan as well as fans of symphonic rock in general and so-called neo prog in particular.
Disc 2 (75:51)
Although this 2 disc set isn't perfect, it still comes across as a release that can be recommended to many listeners. Fans of Sylvan will of course already have noted down the existence of this release, and fans of symphonic rock should take the time to check out this album too, in particular the live edition of "Posthumous Silence" covered on Disc I of this set. For people not aware of Sylvan, this release is a pretty good introduction to the band as well, as tunes from most of their studio albums are present.
OMB: September 20 & 21, 2008
Disc 2 (75:51)
Conclusion. Although this 2 disc set isn't perfect, it still comes across as a release that can be recommended to many listeners. Fans of Sylvan will of course already have noted down the existence of this release, and fans of symphonic rock should take the time to check out this album too, in particular the live edition of "Posthumous Silence" covered on Disc I of this set. For people not aware of Sylvan, this release is a pretty good introduction to the band as well, as tunes from most of their studio albums are present.
OMB: September 20 & 21, 2008
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