NAD SYLVAN - The Bride Said No

Nad Sylvan - The Bride Said No

8 songs
52:59 minutes
***** ***


Swedish artist Nad Sylvan has been making music since the late Seventies. A first solo album in the Nineties is nowadays mostly overlooked, and probably quite rightly so as it was a strange androgynous housewife pop effort. In the first decade of the new millennium, Sylvan began making an impression in the progressive rock scene with the two bands Unifaun and Agents Of Mercy, but it was only while being the singer of Steve Hackett’s Genesis Revisited tour that he finally got a wider exposure.

Two years ago, Nad Sylvan released the first part of his vampire trilogy. Courting The Widow was a wonderful sprawling retro prog effort, coming even with a twenty-minute epic. His Gabrielesque voice made sure that many early Genesis fans would like the album. Now he’s back with the trilogy’s second part, The Bride Said No, and has announced that the album would have a more modern sound. This is right, and quite radically changes the mood, for better or worse, depending on the song. After a rather non-descript short intro which is used as a mood setter, we get with The Quartermaster a great dynamic start into the album. Some of the keyboards may sound a little more Eighties than Seventies, but this is still vintage prog. Above all, it is in my opinion Nad Sylvan’s best song so far. It is rousing and moving at the same time. There’s maybe a hint of kitsch, but Sylvan’s androgynous nature wouldn’t be complete without that. When The Music Dies is a seven-minute long ballad with a memorable chorus and rather modern sounding drums. Maybe a little on the long side, but all in all a rewarding listening experience. Another highlight comes with The White Crown, a totally crazy prog song that is indebted a lot to musicals. The six-minute song comes with a lot of twists and turns, and the sometimes cartoonish vocals remind of Gabriel-era Genesis tracks Harold The Barrel and Get ‘em Out By Friday. The next three tracks are somewhat disappointing though, and they make up twenty minutes of the album. The eight-minute long What Have You Done starts as a ballad which is a duet between Sylvan and Jade Ell, and then ends in a really long dual guitar solo courtesy of guitar heroes Steve Hackett and Gowan Guthrie. Both can play, but this is more a ballad turned into a blues track than something I would expect on a progressive rock album. Crime Of Passion is a more rocking track once again, but from a composition point of view not Sylvan at his strongest. The same can be said about yet another ballad A French Kiss In An Italian Café. This is a very sentimental track, and while I expect Sylvan to play around with kitsch, he’s overdoing it on this track. In the end, we get the twelve and a half minutes long title track, and this is where Nad Sylvan once again delivers. It’s a very varied track with many different parts, and yet another duet with Jade Ell, making this mammoth track sometimes sound like a Jim Steinman produced Meat Loaf track. Strange but also strangely appealing!

While The Bride Said No starts with three really insane songs and ends with a conciliatory long track, it lags a little in the middle. Courting The Window was a more conservative record, maybe with less highlights, but also without any clear weak spots. The new album could have been so much better, and maybe it is no coincidence that the weaker tracks are put in the second half of the album. And still, Nad Sylvan is a really great vocalist who can conjure wonderful atmospheres. Maybe he’s just more at ease in a retro setting, considering that his vampire story is also not from this century.

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