Thursday, July 24, 2014


Sylvus - Upon the Onyx Throne
Self-Released, 2013
Genre: Black Metal

1. Timeless, Lightless
2. Astral Genocide
3. The Beating of Black Wings
4. Ravens Cleaning Bones
5. Invoking Oblivion
6. The Denial of Transcendence
7. Empty Havoc
8. Onyx Throne

Here it is, finally arrived the brand new full-length from this great band. "Upon the Onyx Throne" really steps the bands art up in the right direction. Another thing I've been waiting for them to make is a real booklet for the cassettes! Here we not only have a cover design, but a proper booklet that is two sided and includes liner notes and at least one more picture of art, even if it is an animal skull. It still works great with the layout they put together. Anyway, the booklet is pro-printed and so is the cassette. I'm sure its limited to some small number, but the limitation is not listed on the release.

"Upon the Onyx Throne" is basically Sylvus' highest level of work. Here they blend together the atmosphere from the self-titled with the immense riffing of the EP. The end result is something truly compelling to listen to. They've even included two songs from the EP to be re-recorded here, one of which is my favorite song "The Beating of Black Wings", which does work amidst the newly written material. I feel like this recording of "The Beating of Black Wings" gives it a lot more of an atmospheric edge than the prior version. Even the re-recorded version of "Empty Havoc" sounds immensely more atmospheric than before. The opening song "Timeless, Lightless" is a really immense song and it seems they are drawing some serious influence from the Qu├ębec atmospheric scene. Some the guitar arrangements just sit in the wake of Monarque and Forteresse to a truly beautiful result. They even manage to include some really intense grinding riffs in songs like "Astral Genocide", which actually sound quite good blended in with the more atmospheric pieces. There isn't a single bad song on this release and every song is well written making this the best Sylvus recording for sure. If you've liked what Sylvus was producing prior to this, you'll be really stunned with what they put together on this release.

While "Upon the Onyx Throne" really hits an immense high point for the project, there is also a sad piece to be told here. Upon releasing this the band is now on hiatus. I spoke with Darcy about this recently and he mentioned how he was going out West to work on some personal stuff and I wish him well in that work. But it is still very sad to see his project hit this immense high point only to be put on hold. I hope the ranks of Sylvus will return in the future, regardless of how long it takes. I know that Anastasia is working with her project Sortilegia and hopefully that will be going strong in the future too. Still... I wish I had been able to see Sylvus live one more time before the project was put on hold.

Sylvus - Sylvus/The Beating of Black Wings
Self-Released, 2012
Genre: Black Metal

1. I
2. II
3. III
4. IV
5. V
6. Slaves to the Wyrm
7. The Beating of Black Wings
8. Empty Havoc
9. The Spiritlord (Windir Cover)

Here is a rare treat if you missed out on the prior two releases from Sylvus. This compilation is a cassette only release and is limited to 100 hand-numbered copies, where I own #84. The cover is essentially the same as that found on "The Beating of Black Wings", but this time it is cast onto a white background and is on a white dubbed tape.

Even though it is not listed on the cassette track list, this tape also has the bonus song of Windir's "The Spiritlord". Apparently this was recorded during the "Sylvus" session and was not released prior to this. I'm glad they've included it here, because they did quite a good job on covering a legendary band. So, if you've missed out on the prior Sylvus material, this is certainly worth checking out if you can track down a copy.

Sylvus - The Beating of Black Wings
Self-Released, 2011
Genre: Black Metal

1. Slaves to the Wyrm
2. The Beating of Black Wings
3. Empty Havoc

After a successful debut, Sylvus return in the following year with this three track EP. Released on cassette which comes with just a basic cover, no interior design, and on a black dubbed tape. This is limited to 100 copies, but nothing is listed on the actual cassette stating the limitation.

After a strong debut, I expected Sylvus to write some more solid material, though I am surprised they have returned with new material so quickly. The musical approach is fairly different from the debut and more focus is put on riffing that really stands out and catches the listeners ear. The cold atmosphere is still there, but it's just not as dense as the debut. To be honest though, I think this is more where Sylvus' sound is the most comfortable. Just the right amount of cold infused to give it an icy edge, but focusing on really interesting riffs to catch our ears. The opening riff of the title track just makes me stand at rapt attention. I really just want this riff to go on forever, that is how spectacular it is. Then it falls into a sort of early Satyricon style blended with a more modern form, which is just amazing to listen to. I first heard Sylvus in 2012 when I saw them perform live at Messe des Morts and it was this song that really struck a chord with me and I realized I needed to get this bands material. Ever since then I've been trying to get what I can of their material.

In the end this is an incredible collection of songs from the project. I really think this is bringing Sylvus in a much stronger direction for their sound and I really look forward to what will be released in the future. This EP is what really put Sylvus on the must hear map of Black Metal.

Sylvus - Sylvus
Self-Released, 2010
Genre: Black Metal

1. I
2. II
3. III
4. IV
5. V

Even though there are Sylvus demos prior to this release, this is really where my Sylvus collection begins. I think this is also where the band wants new listeners to start out. That is certainly understandable if they believe their prior material to be less than presentable or much weaker than their current incarnation.

"Sylvus" also strikes out as the bands debut full-length. I never was able to get a stand alone copy of this, but am reliant on the download from their website. This is unfortunate since owning a piece of music is important to me. Sylvus seem to be part of the incredible growth Canada is experiencing in Black Metal today. This really is a solid debut release, albeit it doesn't stray into really groundbreaking territories. It has a fairly older feel to the music due to its more primitive nature. This probably really fits in with the Sylvus concept of nature similar to the early Norwegian scene. So the riffing is solid and safe for the most part. The Sylvus atmosphere is very cold and the production really helps that feel. Darcy's vocals feel as if they are screamed from afar, but they are still solidly in the mix which really works well for them. "III" changes things up a little more by opening with a much Thrashier styled guitar line. This eventually breaks down into some very cold and dark riffing, which is where Sylvus seems to draw a lot of its presentation. I think the strong adherence to building that atmosphere is where Sylvus really does stand out as a band. Sure, it's a tried and true atmosphere, but they really did a wonderful job with it. Just listen to "IV" they really hit some serious atmospheric highs with the riffs on that song.

In the end this is a rather strong debut. They have all the necessary elements to compose great Black Metal, now we just need them to get to that level. The debut is very good, but that's all it sort of is for me. I didn't truly stand in awe of the creation... but as with many bands, I think Sylvus is on their way to potentially achieving that level of quality in their compositions.

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