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Sylvan – One to Zero

Sylvan
One to Zero
by Dave "That Metal Guy" Campbell at 29 May 2021, 10:10 AM

Progressive Metal band SYLVAN hails from Germany. They have previously released nine studio albums, so they are no strangers to the music industry. “One to Zero” is their tenth, and it’s a concept album. It unfolds the autobiography of an A.I. from its own perspective over the course of ten tracks.

“Bit by Bit” leads off the album. It begins with a haunting keyboard melody, and some rays of light. When the main riff drops, spacy keys are there to support the sound. The vocals are soft whispers at first, as a darkness hangs behind it. This continues through the middle section of the song, where the vocals reach out. The sound gets a bit heavier towards the end. “Encoded at Heart” opens with pretty but sad piano, along with some strings. The vocals are pensive here. The sound begins to gradually pick up and comes out of the darkness and into the light. The melodies flow at the third chorus, building to a crescendo with backing vocals at the end. What a pretty song, indeed.

“Start of your Life” is a short, three-minute song with a heavier edge, from the fuzzy guitar riff and bass notes. It has a steady rocking sound, reminding me of SUBSIGNAL. The band really knows how to use melody on the album. “Unleashed Power” opens with doleful piano notes that make you feel sad. The sound continues with the addition of clean guitars. The vocals carry the sentiment as well. Thick bass notes come into play as the song begins to develop. You can feel elements of anger and possibly desperation in Marco’s voice. The song also has a soothing quality, something that isn’t full realized until the end.

“Trust in Yourself” is where the tale turns. The chorus is rich and full, with backing vocals, and the song teeters on the edge of hope and despair. The message however is simple but powerful. “Please trust in yourself” he reminds you. Easier said than done? After the half-way mark, charming strings make a brief appearance, followed by a spacey guitar solo. The message returns, riding easy towards the end of the song. “On my Odyssey” opens with some ominous tones, with steady bass guitar notes. It swells and relaxes a few times throughout the song, but leaves you hanging on the edge of your seat, cleverly never fully releasing.

“Part of Me” is a nine-minute opus, beginning with some more of those melancholy piano notes. The strings and vocals add to the melancholy tone of the song. It passes by slowly, allowing you time to really let it sink in. Time seems to fade away when listening to this song, as it threatens to whisk you away to a distant world. “Worlds Apart” is about half as long as the previous track. It has an angry edge at times, and a melodic edge during other times. The backing vocals towards the end of the song are very well done.

“Go Viral” opens with some keys and what sounds like electronic drums to me. A heavy riff drops and then retreats. A steady pulse of electronica dominates much of the song, along with more of those keyboards, and some darker passages. “Not a Goodbye” is the ten-minute closer. Following a brief electronic pulse, clean guitars take over, along with Marco’s expressive vocals. It’s another slow, building piece that take a while to take foot. Like “Unleashed Power,” It isn’t until the end when the sound is fully realized, and then keys take it to a slow fadeout.

Overall, this was an intriguing album. It’s more about the journey than the destination, that much is for sure. And that isn’t a bad thing. Indeed, this talented band knows when to turn it up, and when to retreat, and uses melody in just the right places. The album as whole has a mostly sad tone to it, but there are enough moments of hope and bliss to keep it interesting. Where it lacks just a little are in some big emotional peaks that would help it really take off the ground. The production is stellar, and it’s a solid effort.

Songwriting: 8
Musicianship: 8
Memorability: 7
Production: 9

4 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1. Bit by Bit
2. Encoded at Heart
3. Start of Your Life
4. Unleashed Power
5. Trust in Yourself
6. On my Odyssey
7. Part of Me
8. Worlds Apart
9. Go Viral
10. Not a Goodbye
Lineup:
Marco Glühmann – Vocals
Volker Söhl – Keyboards
Sebastian Harnack – Bass
Matthias Harder – Drums
Johnny Beck – Guitars

Guests:

Kalle Wallner – Additional Acoustic Guitars
Yogi Lang - Additional Keyboards
Katja Flintsch – Violin & Viola
Bine Heller – Backing Vocals 
Record Label: Gentle Art of Music
     


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