Nova by Sylvaine

Release date: March 4, 2022
Label: Season of Mist

It was a hot and muggy day here in Texas. And I’m going out for another walk, listening to this transfix release from the Season of Mist label of Norwegian multi-instrumentalist Kathrine Shepard, founder of Sylvaine. Her music tackles themes of confliction, struggling to adapt, and extreme range of emotions that the human race has to go through.

Kathrine is no fluke. She takes it beyond the classical structures of songs that go from electric guitars, unplugged recorded in lavender and black bedrooms to volcanic scenarios on how her vision can go through the next logical step.

Taken its name from the play by French poet Paul Verlaine, Sylvaine’s fourth release is a follow-up to her 2018 release; Atoms Aligned, Coming Undone. It sees Shepard spreading her wings throughout the entire mountain ranges of Norway.

Three years in the making, Nova is like a spiritual awakening by finding your inner self. For Kathrine, she brings everything to the kitchen table by tackling the skeletons in the closes that can be filled with a huge amount of dark secrets that are going to be released to the public like there’s no tomorrow.

From the moment the opening title-track begins, Kathrine begins this Gregorian chant in the middle of this ice storm that has been in this mountain top for decades. She calls out to the gods with some Floydian chords setting up this massive painting brought to life.

You feel her pain, her suffering, but Kathrine is a fighter as she sings in the style of iamthemorning’s Mariana Semkina. Then, all hell has broken loose in a tidal waving punch.

She transforms herself into a vicious, snarling beast, shrieking in uncharted territories on ‘Mono No Aware’. Mansiaux just pounds the shit out of those drums before Shepard calms herself down despite the danger she’s in. Not only that she might hurt someone else, but if she did, her characterisation in the song might pay the ultimate price in the end.

 

‘Nowhere, Still Somewhere’ sounds like music that Kathrine had wrote for the 2019 video game opus, Blasphemous. It has this symphonic approach that she channels, not knowing that the spiritual journey she’s embarking on.

It’s a long hard road to find your inner self, but the path with angelic vocals, Kathrine pours her heart out from all of the suffering she had to go through. With the 11-minute epic ‘Fortapt’, this is Sylvaine creating her own version of a suite, channeling both Edenbridge’s ‘The Bonding’ and Pink Floyd’s unsung masterpiece, ‘Atom Heart Mother’.

This is an epic battle between the forces of good and evil clashing in one magnetic showdown that becomes a spaghetti western gore fest turned into a bloody aftermath with Kathrine picking up the pieces and not backing down without a fight. After the epic, she swims to shore in this post-rock environment with the styles of Within Temptation’s Sharon Den Adel’s ‘I Close My Eyes So I Can See’.

With Dorian’s temperature-risen drum segment, she screams for the last few minutes by fighting back tears and starting a new chapter in the character’s life. The closer, ‘Everything Must Come to an End’, is Sylvaine’s book ending the story of Nova. She takes the long and winding road in the middle of a deserted island, rebuilding her life and where the next story will go.

The mournful arrangements lets listeners know that she’s starting a new chapter in her life. But she’ll never be the same again as the present will haunt her in the years to come. The bonus track ‘Dissolution’ is Kathrine channeling both Steven Wilson’s Insurgentes and Porcupine Tree’s ‘The Joke’s on You’.

Shimmering guitar landscape and horizon vocals, she tips her hat to the maestro and gives it that massive tight rope walk to know that there’s something special cooking inside her kitchen. And we’ll never know what Kathrine will think of next.

Nova is Sylvaine’s gem. The sparking diamond in the rough is glowing brighter than ever. It is heavier, emotional, and nastier than ever! Yet it is a promising release, and an awakening that Kathrine has unleashed.

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