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(Sylvan) - "Posthumous Silence": {The Show}

Reviewed by:

Paul M. Roy

(78) Minutes
Release Date:



(Performance Date) - "September 2007"

Band Members: Marco Glühmann / vocals Matthias Harder / drums
  Sebastian Harnack / bass Jan Petersen / guitars
  Volker Söhl / keyboards Guido Bungenstock / guitars
  Stephanie Hundertmark / cello Petra Schechter / choir
  Miriam Schell / choir Stefanie Richter / choir
Track Listing: 1.)-Eternity Ends [1:55] 9.)-A Sad Sympathy [1:42]
  2.)-Bequest of Tears [3:07] 10.)-Questions [6:59]
  3.)-In Chains [8:58] 11.)- Answer to Life [6:08]
  4.)-Bitter Symphony [1:30] 12.)-Message From the Past [2:58]
  5.)-Pane of Truth [9:05] 13.)-The Last Embrace [4:05]
  6.)-No Earthly Reason [1:54] 14.)-A Kind of Eden [3:52]
  7.)-Forgotten Virtue [7:06] 15.)- Posthumous Silence [9:57]
  8.)-The Colors Changed [6:48]  


Sylvan are a German neo-progressive rock band whose sound is most often compared to their British contemporaries IQ and Marillion. Don't let the neo-prog label scare you off though, as these guys fall into the melodic pop/rock category just as easily. The band released their debut album, Deliverance, in 1999 and have gone on to release five other studio albums, with 2007's Presets being their latest. The previous year Sylvan delivered the magnificent concept album, Posthumous Silence, which is the feature of this first live concert DVD from the band, Posthumous Silence: The Show. And what a debut DVD it is.***

Although I have never found the music of Sylvan to be quite as compelling as the two other bands I mentioned previously, they are still one of the top bands of the genre. Posthumous Silence was probably the high water mark for this band so far, but the 18-minute bonus performance of "Artificial Paradise", from their 2002 album of the same name, shows how that one was just as impressive.***

The thing that struck me the most about this video was just how good the production values of both the concert and the DVD were. For such a modestly successful band as Sylvan, with what I assume was a pretty modest budget, this production looks about as big budget as it gets. The DVD features a complete, one-off performance of Sylvan's critically acclaimed 2006 concept album, Posthumous Silence, which was filmed at the Kampnagel in Hamburg, Germany, on September 1st, 2007.***

The bonus features includes time-lapse footage of how the huge stage was custom built just for this show. The quality of the stage production and light show rivals that of any theater-sized concert I have ever seen, and this DVD presents it marvelously. The show begins with a transparent curtain draped over the entire stage with the Posthumous Silence album cover artwork and some film depicting various eerie landscape images are projected upon it, while the haunting leadoff track, "Eternity Ends", plays in the background.***

This smoothly transitions into the stunning ballad "Bequest Of Tears", where keyboardist Volker Sohl, cellist Stefanie Richter, and singer Marco Gluhmann are dimly illuminated by spotlights from behind the curtain. The drama and intensity continues to build until the curtain finally dramatically falls to the front of the stage, and the full light show kicks into gear as the band launches into the heavy rocker "In Chains". Very cool opening sequence.***

The strongest material on the Posthumous Silence album for me was the slower, atmospheric ballads such as "Pane Of Truth" and "The Colors Changed", and they also provide the highlights for this show. During "The Colors Changed" several people in the audience spontaneously started waving colored glow sticks above their heads in harmony with the music, and this made an already charming performance all the more charming. The real highlight of the show comes at the end though, when the band brings this heartbreaking story to an amazing conclusion via the epic Posthumous Silence title track.***

For this special performance the band was augmented by an additional guitarist, a cello player, and three female backup vocalists. Also of note is the fact that this was the first live Sylvan performance by new guitarist Jan Petersen, but his excellent playing did not make this fact obvious. Although Guido Bungenstock was only listed as a guest guitarist, he actually handled most of the key guitar solos throughout the show.***

Although Marco Gluhmann sings all of the songs in English, his vocals are heavily German accented and can be very difficult to understand. The special features include an audio commentary by the band (in German) as well as English and German subtitles, which translate all of the song lyrics, but not the commentary. The subject matter of the Posthumous Silence album was certainly no light-hearted affair, as it is essentially the story of a grieving father reading the diary of his daughter who had recently committed suicide.***

Other special features include "In the Studio 2005-2006" (behind-the-scenes of the recording of the Posthumous Silence and Presets albums), "34 Days" (behind-the-scenes footage of the production of the show), interviews with the band and crew, a slide show, time-lapse footage of the stage show being constructed, and the bonus performance of "Artificial Paradise". The special features are quite extensive and would be very entertaining - IF YOU SPREKEN ZIE DEUTSCH! Some English subtitles would have made them worth watching for us non-German speakers.***

As I mentioned previously, the production quality of the DVD is first-rate. Audio is provided in both Dolby Digital 5.1 surround and stereo, and the tracks sound nearly flawless. The video is presented in 16:9 widescreen and the picture is crystal clear and sharp, and the extraordinary amount of lights and colors on stage are presented flawlessly. The camera work was superb, for the most part, but the director did get carried away with some hyper fast cuts during some of the heavier song parts.***

Sylvan really hit this one out of the park, and Posthumous Silence: The Show comes highly recommend. I anxiously await their follow up DVD, which hopefully will feature songs from all of their albums, and will also meet the high standards of this release.***



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