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I have been a fan of the band for years now. I interviewed them back in 2009 for the Prognaut.com and we shared some good insights on their last album Force of Gravity.
Sceneries however, is an epic emotional departure from the past bringing the band's full force of personality forward. The emotions and individual band personalities drive each track on this album at full volume leaving nothing behind in the wake. With FoG the band celebrated their first decade as a band. Sceneries is a bold and visionary look at where they may be taking their sound in the next ten.
Sceneries is an incredible way to launch the next ten years, with an over 90 minute double – album full of epic songs drenched in emotion, full of deep lyrics brought to the stage with powerful vocals, brilliant piano and keyboards, amazing new guitar sounds, warm bass, and powerful drums.
Sylvan needs no introduction to most prog fans, but in case this is your initial review, the band is from Hamburg, Germany. Marco Gluhmann provides dynamic vocals; Volker Sohl is the master of the keyboard and his piano keys light up this album as with every album in the catalog; Jan Petersen handles all of the heavy electric and acoustic guitar work; Sebastian Harnack provides the steady bass; and Mattias Harder slams the heaviest drum licks I've heard on a Sylvan album.
Is Sceneries Sylvan's best album? Not yet. The lyrics and drums are amazing and strong, but the melodies take more time to grow on you than some of their instantly welcoming melodies like Presets or say This World is not for Me, or even Given, Used, Forgotten. But if you give this album time to grow, the melodies and more importantly the lyrics and emotions will stay with you for a long time.
You can hear in this production that this band put every effort into making this a new departure. Opening their hearts, emotions, and deepest feelings for all to see. You can't help but be swept away with their emotions as you read the lyrics, hear the vocals and rise and fall with the musical images they create. In volume it is easily their most powerful album yet.
If you're ready to dig deep into feeling again this may be the album of the year for you.
Chapter 1: The Fountain of Glow opens this powerful emotional trek with the first deep lyrics, "Heart, you bleed away. Days you're dyed in crimson". The music harkens back to some of the opening sounds of the final track on Force of Gravity - Vapour Trail. But the lyrics are deeper and more powerful, "Open up, step out…a flame unfurled…into a brand-new once threatening world. I walk with a smile; this smile's my arm to shoot out a fire that causes no harm. Explode, blazing fire, outshine the dark, please warm and revive my heart!" Marco's vocals take it over the top with high reaching notes, as the band matches the emotion with solid bass, launching guitar chords, and their signature keyboard/piano expertise. Another favorite lyric on this track is, "Then an angel brings you heaven! Inflame your heart with just one smile!" The closing lyrics help make this one of the best tracks on the album; "Love is the fountain, the fountain of glow. Where hearts can catch fire and passion can grow. Vibrant and truthful, a radiant flame, that creates with its power both pleasure and pain".
Chapter 2: Share the World with Me opens with soft acoustic guitar and Marco's vocals, "When I look ahead, where the mountains rise. Where the winding path stretches out of sight. With my wish in mind – see the peak of snow. I simply pack my things…and go". Then the wonderful piano joins in and you have found my favorite song on the album. You can surely visualize those mountains straight out of that amazing opening. The piano solos that come soon after the glorious fountain of vocal accent on, "Gonna make it right – and I breathe in. Gonna make it right my own way. Take it as it comes – simply feel it. Take it without thoughts, without pains", are amazing. Such a visual song. Hopefully there will be a forthcoming video to support this track. The electric guitar solos on this track are also otherworldly. But it's the piano that steals the show as always with this band.
"High up here on ancient ground. High above the stones". Yes, this song does take you to those heights. The lyrics, "Though I sit here alone, you were never gone. Please share the world with me", helps capture the feeling the band has for its friends and fans so well.
Chapter 3: The Words You Hide opens quietly with beautiful piano and Marco's almost whispered vocals, "Where do we go? How strange, but I don't know! The words you hide, would they mean more than the things you show?" Then the music takes a deeper, darker plunge, with orchestration full of strings, keyboards, bass, darker electric guitar chords and heavy drums filling the soundscape. The bells only add more drama and finality to the sound.
"Future…unsure…failure…am I? How do they see you…perceive you? Not fair!" Then, a look back in time to better days, "Once in a lullaby, songs from another time…so bright. Hear our melody; bring back this time to me…tonight…here tonight!" More great lyrics fill this track full of light, "Breathe with you now, yes I breathe in your beat. While we breathe we compose our own symphonies…Fills my own wordless silence with our old melody".
The third section of this song has a very dramatic opening to it filled with stunning piano, electric guitar and power drums, and more of those great lyrics, "Melody, where are you gone? If I lift my head…what will I see? Look up, look up now. No sound but only icy wind…again". This section and the closing section take this song to the top as another of the best tracks on this epic album. The guitar and piano solos are simply amazing. Up to the powerful standards of such classic Sylvan tracks as some of my favorites, like the epic Presets, Artificial Paradise, and This World is not for Me. "Come this way, please, come with me…its full of light and full of melodies". In an album full of epics this song stands out.
Chapter 4: The Waters I Travelled opens full of power and glory with drums beating, piano riding high on the electric guitar as it launches far and wide with solid bass keeping pace. Marco brings in some modulated voice, similar to some of the variations he used on some of the tracks from FoG. The lyrics need no introduction, "Vastness around me, waves and endless sea. Swim hastily, scared by unknown deeps…wake up!" The added rapping to the mix helps provide that change of tempo which FoG initiated.
After the heavy and powerful opening the track calms down to beautiful soft piano and slow plucked electric guitar with soft drums and those flighty keyboards surrounding the soundscape. The lyrics lay out the storyline, "Awake on a salving shore. The surges have ceased from me. It seems that a saving stream somehow has brought me here. Feel someone is holding me. And while all my fears dry out, it dawns on me, you're here".
One of the best sections features Marco singing, "Light up…the sea", with the piano punctuating the immediacy and desire with passion.
The best lyrical sections of the song, "Something is rising now…I start to feel it now. Still subtle not so far away. Below the surface of my life. But you taught me to face it. You made me aware of my own line. Little beacon you're my guide. That's why I care, why I feel, why you shine night and day. That's why I'm gracious that your light chases my secret fear away". The deep bass adds power and magic to the track.
Chapter 5: Farewell to Old Friends opens with soft acoustic guitar and Marco's vocals storytelling through the powerful lyrics, "Feels just like yesterday when I entered that place. Rather by accident than really by fate. The old man immediately his eyes watched my soul. When I sat in front of him he made me recall".
Then the darker keyboards and slow progressive guitar melodies begin to build. As if we are all regressing into the dream or memory with the band. "I went on a journey to distant galaxies. Here I could avoid the rain. In my iron rocket, searching for a golden sun".
More excellent lyrics, "Learn to let go don't endure it in vain. Know that a rainbow follows close upon rain…Farewell to old friends but a welcome to life…that's a reason to survive!"
Like a rocket, the second to last section of this closing epic roars to a start with some cool blistering guitar and orchestration taking me back to Vapour Trail off FoG. Only this time darker and maybe even more powerful. The strings and orchestration only add to the epic nature of the music unfolding before me.
Chapter 1: The Fountain of Glow
Chapter 2: Share the World with Me
Chapter 3: The Words You Hide
Chapter 4: The Waters I Travelled
Chapter 5: Farewell to Old Friends
Added: January 23rd 2012
Reviewer: Mark Johnson
Related Link: Sylvan.de
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