The Sylmarillion – Album review

Proving that rock is far from dead, The Sylmarillion’s first release also affirms that the genre is a far more interesting beast than the one-trick-pony that’s galloped Can-rock staples like Nickelback to the realm of slick tour buses and multi-page riders.

It’s easy to forget that there was a time when rock stations played everything from Dylan to Zeppelin, and arguments about what’s rock and what’s not were seldom heard. Sylmarillion, yet another great band from Winnipeg’s bustling indie rock scene, defies the current video/single approach to album making, and the notion that a record need only contain a good song or two and a consistent, identifiable sound throughout.

Syl’s self-titled debut melds everything from folk to grunge to hints of 70’s glam rock into a unique yet accessible sound that is steeped in raw emotion without edging in to pathos. The production is a little rough – in parts the instruments sound rather flat – but the performances are moving and the band is tight. Lyrically and musically, Syl provide a visceral and intimate connection with the listener that many overproduced rock albums cannot.

A listen to the newer studio versions of the singles (available on Syl’s website) show how much this band has grown in a short time, and the production on these newer tracks is a perfect blend of indie-rock edge and a slick, radio-friendly style that perfectly showcases each instrument while maintaining a very cohesive sound. She Rises is an obvious first single. Like Tal Bachman’s 1999 hit, She’s So High, the song is perfect for summertime radio, and the b-side 303 is a great introduction to the band’s rockier side.

Other album highlights include the driving and mournful Just One, the middle-eastern tinged guitars on Damage Control, and the powerful acoustic track Monstrosity, which proves that rough edges and intensity can easily coexist with lush melodies and thoughtful lyrics. Syl’s debut will make you yearn for the days of the AOR rock stations, where late at night you could hear any track off of an album at the whim of a great eclectic DJ. There is no filler on this album.

Visit the Sylmarillion website and download the three free mp3 tracks that are available. You might find your next favourite band.