Force of Gravity is yet the seventh album of Sylvan in less than eleven years and they still are one of the most innovating prog rock bands from Germany. After the excellent concept album Posthumous Silence and the follow-up Presets the line-up of the band slightly changed. The new lead guitarist Jan Petersen replaced Kay Söhl, twin brother of keyboardist Volker Söhl. The influences of the new guitarist are evident. Some heavier tracks like Follow Me, King Porn and God Of Rubbish differ thoroughly from the symphonic songs of the first three albums. On the previous album Presets, I got the impression that Marco Glühmann was forcing his voice to reach the higher regions, but on Force Of Gravity he’s obviously more in control (see concert review).
The title track is typical for the new musical direction of the band. After a short heavy riff, Glühmann’s strong and emotional voice grabs you immediately by the throat. Follow Me is a heavy modern rock song in the vein of Blind Ego with several hard-edged riffs and agitating vocals. Isle In Me is one of the best songs. It’s a piano ballad with a beautiful chorus, fine keyboard orchestrations and at the end a beautiful guitar solo by Jan Petersen. Embedded has repeating and lingering chords, similar to those The Edge used with U2. On Turn Of The Tide, the piano starts rather dreamy, but in the middle-section, Glühmann’s dark voice creates an ominous and threatening atmosphere. Strong vocal lines in From The Silence while Matthias Harder is firmly hitting the drums. Another track that makes this album worth wile is Midnight Sun. On this ballad, dominated by violin and piano, Marco Glühmann gets vocal assistance by Miriam Schell. King Porn obviously is an indictment against the sex industry. You can hear the bitterness and frustrations of Marco while singing, shouting and spitting the lyrics into the microphone. After this heavy piece, Episode 609 is quite an oasis with a nice chorus, a bass solo by Sebastian Harnack and in the end a short guitar solo. God Of Rubbish is just heavy rock with no interesting hooks or breaks at all. This certainly is not one of my favourites. The final track is not only the longest, but in my opinion also the best track. Vapour Trail begins slowly with violins, but gradually the song changes into a biting piece with a dark atmosphere. The middle section is melodic with piano and has different fluent guitar solos. You’ll be put on the wrong track by the combination of jazzy vocals and heavy riffs, but in the end, the song becomes melodic again with the finest guitar solo of the entire album.
Unfortunately, I don’t know how to describe the last two minutes of Force of Gravity, but they are just brilliant and exceptionally good. This new album of Sylvan is an excellent successor of their somewhat mediocre predecessor.
****+ Cor Smeets (edited by Peter Willemsen)
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