With yet another new line-up (now adding scene veteran Fred den Hartog on drums) Sylvium are back with their third release. And while my thoughts on their previous one was that it lacked a bit a colour and versatility, I feel that this release is easy their best one yet. Their mix of prog, rock and ambient now blends well and the rock factor is really there.
Not that they have turned into a full blown metallic monster. But this collection of songs at last move around, sometimes heavy, sometimes fragile and everything in between. Thus creating a mood and experience. Also more vocals this time, and that also helps getting into the music. This time 7 songs and 44 minutes on the album, with highlights for me being Signal To Noise, Fragile and Coda. The voice of Richard de Geest might still remind me a bit of The Mission, there is no doubt that he can carry a tune and really reaches out to the audience.
So for me the band are on the right track with this album. It is colourful, moody and versatile. Dutch label Freia-Music did the right thing and I congratulate all parties with this recommended release!
Dutch proggers Sylvium were featured here before with their instrumental EP Purified. Since that release, a lot has happened for the one man project around Ben van Gastel (guitars and keyboards). First they expanded to a real band and by now are a 6 piece. They participated successfully in the Dutch Exposure competition and now we have their first full length on offer. That is, full length? With just over 41 minutes that is open to debate. Yet those minutes are the sum of 6 tracks, so the in-crowd will no doubt be pleased.
So what have all these changes lead to? The album title refers to anxiety, a feeling of tension. fear or concern. In all honesty, the music does not give me the creeps. In my ears it is a mostly mellow affair with no real stand out tracks, let alone overly suspense. There are now vocals added to the songs Weathering and Surround. Which made me think a bit of eighties band The Mission, but with more prominent keyboards. On board is renowned bass player Gijs Koopman, and his chops are fairly prominent in the mix.
This does not mean the album is not enjoyable. In fact it is easy to connect to it. It has a certain flow but overal could use a bit more variation in my opinion. An injection of different colours to make it less bland. However, looking at the cover, maybe this is what they were after…
It is not often that an EP gets some words on these pages. But in case of new Dutch band Sylvium I am only happy to oblige. And maybe even stranger when one knows this is instrumental progressive rock… But if you are still reading, then let´s go on.
This EP has 3 songs on it, Crash, Media and Solution. And with a playing time of 21 minutes (in some genres that is an album´s worth) you can do the math, songs of about 7 minutes each. What I like about it is that the band do not shy away from experimenting with moods, arrangements, tempo´s and even the odd use of soundclips from probably TV. The way more ambient moods are morphed into classic progressive rock with lots of groove, guitar and Hammond is really worthwhile. Porcupine Tree you say? Or Pure Reason Revolution? Yeah, I guess that could be a reference.
An interesting way of getting to know the band and something anybody into the bands mentioned, progressive rock and or more ambient music, should give a try!