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Sylvan: Posthumous Silence

This is a concept record and here's the storyline in one sentence:

A man gets to really know his daughter for the first time by reading her diaries ... after she has committed suicide.

So it's obvious that this is an extremely moving  piece - but besides that, Posthumous Silence is simply an excellent album in every sense. Very progressive by all understandings of that term, in the symphonic style of that genre, but with one foot in the neo camp and just a toe dipped tentatively into prog-metal. The musicianship is outstanding, the songwriting is strong and the overall impression after hearing this music is that after a after their 7-year apprenticeship, Sylvan has outshone its back catalog of 4 better-than-average records and announced its presence in the progressive music world with a bang.

The storyline follows the father's reading of the diaries, and is delivered by Marco Glühmann's perfectly controlled, passionate singing. His delivery is lightly accented and the lyrics are tainted with ESL grammar - but the meaning is clear and Marco's performance is out of music's top drawer. The point of view often shifts to the girl's perspective - and you can't help thinking that the telling would have been still more effective if they'd recruited a good female vocalist for those sections. Besides the vocals, the sentiments are effectively conveyed by very good guitar work that is Gilmouresque  in parts, by occasional cellos and orchestral sounds, and by that most poignant plectrum on the heartstrings, lots of well-played piano. Occasional voice-overs and sound inserts also move the story forward. these don't stand the test of multiple replays, so it's fortunate that they're rare and brief.

In the tradition of good prog concept pieces Posthumous Silence runs through shift after shift in tempo, key, and time signature, there are long, well-layered instrumental sections, and each song runs smoothly into the next to yield a consistent, cohesive body of work.

The details of the story are somewhat convoluted because the girl runs through the gamut of emotions – desperate then relieved, hopeless then hopeful, and she's eventually resigned to her decision; while - as you'd expect - the father is feeling heartbroken throughout the course of the hour and ten minutes. So the album is best appreciated if you go to the band's web site at least once and follow both the storyline and lyrics closely. That will change it from a lot of of overblown emotional stuff into a meaningful listening experience, from just very good to really excellent. In a perfect world, there would be a tighter coalescence between the good songwriting and the moving storyline. But that observation isn't enough to reduce the album's well-earned 5-star rating.

Track Listing:
01. Eternity ends
02. Bequest of tears
03. In chains
04. Bitter symphony
05. Pane of truth
06. No earthly reason
07. Forgotten virtue
08. The colors changed
09. A sad sympathy
10. Questions
11. Answer to life
12. Message from the past
13. The last embrace
14. A kind of eden
15. Posthumous silence

Added: June 12th 2006
Reviewer: Duncan Glenday
Related Link: Sylvan's Web Site
Hits: 8948
Language: english

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