Review: Nova by Sylvaine – Nothing new, but fascinating nonetheless (France/Norway, 2022)
Last Updated on 6. August 2022 by Oliver
New discovery from France: Sylvaine play Blackgaze – a heavy metal subgenre that (surprise!) incorporates elements of Black Metal and Shoegaze. A pleasing mix that lives from the contrasts of violent outbursts and quiet parts.
The style was made famous by French band Alcest and frontman Neige. A lively scene has developed behind the pioneers, which regularly supplies genre fans with new music. I dare to make a prognosis: Sylvaine will make it into the top league with their fourth album “Nova” – the disc really has something, although it’s not perfect.
Sylvaine have a charismatic singer
This group is also based in France, although singer and multi-instrumentalist Kathrine Shepard (stage name: Sylvaine) is actually from Norway. That’s not her only association with Alcest, though – after all, she was also featured on vocals on their most recent work, Spiritual Instinct and Kodama. Her voice, which can be extremely fragile one moment and then yell violently in the best Black Metal manner the next, is clearly the focus of attention on “Nova”.
The title track still revels in floating sounds that would not have been out of place even on an Enya record from the 1990s. Then the ten-minute “Mono No Aware” blows through the eardrum properly. Again and again the mood changes between dreamy and aggressive. Kathrine proves that behind her fairy-like appearance with the long blond hair – for example on the album cover as a real eye-catcher – there is an extremely versatile vocal artist. Her growls have a particularly strong effect after the quiet start.
Video for “Nowhere, Still Somewhere”
“Nowhere, Still Somewhere” exerts a similar fascination for almost four minutes. The beautiful melodies in the chorus regularly draw you into the music. The song could even be really successful as a single release. No wonder Sylvaine also produced a video for it.
This style continues in the next tracks – and just when the play of colors between dark and white threatens to become boring, Sylvaine conjures up a dreamy closing song – not only because of the title – with “Everything Must Come To An End”. The angelic voice of the singer is once again properly expressed over the leitmotif, which is played first on the guitar and at the end on a violin. Anyone who doesn’t get goosebumps here must be an unfeeling robot.
Blackgaze according to a well-known pattern
When it’s at its most beautiful, you should stop: The band follows this advice – although there is a bonus track with “Dissolution” – but it rightly stayed and can’t add anything new to the work. In any case, “Nova” – even if the Latin translation may suggest otherwise – relies on ingredients that are typical of the genre. The female component is certainly unusual – Blackgaze used to be a male domain. This should ensure Sylvaine a lot of attention in future appearances.
However, if you expect really progressive music, you’ve come to the wrong place with the band. It moves between the well-known opposites: All songs start quietly and increase in the finale in a “wall of sound” caused by the guitar, which is reinforced with the help of drum blastbeats. Exceptions are – as mentioned – the first and last track. This, however, is a clever approach because it gives the record an inner coherence.
Sylvaine: a band to keep an eye on
Despite my slight criticism, I now have Sylvaine on my radar and will definitely attend a concert if there is one near me. But I’m particularly excited to see how the follow-up album will turn out. If they manage to swim free from the tight shackles of the Blackgaze genre like Alcest did with “Shelter” in 2014, they have a similar bright future ahead of them.
Bewertung: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (8 out of 12 points)
Album: Sylvaine – Nova (2022)
Runtime: 50 Min.
Label: Season of Mist
Format: Digital, CD, Vinyl
2. Mono No Aware
3. Nowhere, Still Somewhere
5. I Close My Eyes So I Can See
6. Everything Must Come To An End
7. Dissolution (Bonus)
Sylvaine on the web: