Rising tension caused by strings, a high dissonance on the piano: What sounds like the score to a horror movie is actually the intro of Seylen.‘s new record Gray. The little details, such as said dissonance on the piano, are to be found in the following song as well; starting off heavy-hitting, it turns totally clean and thus creates a surprising contrast immediately after the introduction. A slight feeling of similarity to bands like Hypno5e flushes through ones mind. It might be coincidence, but I think that this band got a lot of inspiration from their compatriots.
That being said, one can observe a high amount of contrast within the next songs; in fact, there is an overwhelming mix of groove, riffing and ambient clean parts, as to be heard in “Gray Matter”. This track also works with the piano dissonances out of “Dorian” and is like a second part of it, while being the almost 9-minute-long main song.
Gray also contains a three-piece song, entitled “Choreograph“. After a smooth introduction, the main part starts with a groovy Gojira-esque riff, which practically oozes their vibe due to the iconic guitar slide. At this point, it is visible that Seylen. are heavily inspired by the French metal scene, which is not a bad thing at all! Of course, France is not Norway or Sweden, but they too have a lot of important metal bands who created something new and inspired others. The song itself stays groovy and brings in new contrasts with ambient clean parts, backed by spoken vocals as well as convincing cleans.
The three-piece song would also work as a little EP, as it quotes itself and builds up on every single part within it to come to a climax. It does not seem misplaced at all, too, as the internal dramaturgy of Gray continues with the second part of “Silenthood“, which was in turn split in two parts to fit around “Choreograph”. Gray finds its end with “Holder’s Comma”, a song marked by a repetitive piano melody in its ending. It strongly affects the epic ending and stretches out a little bit, while creating an overwhelming power. Atmospheric drumming, tremolo guitars and said melody create a very ambient vibe that’s followed by clean vocals and some background noises, which then mark the end of Gray.
One problem of this record might be the fact that a lot of its songs start off similarly: Clean guitar playing, building up an ambiance, locking into a groove and then taking the distortion out again. This might result in a lack of variety, as it simply happens way too often on Gray. But then again, Seylen. have shown a lot of diversity and creativity in the way they composed their songs. Their vocalist also works with a pretty good range, switching between spoken word, screams, growls, cleans and even whispered vocals, which bring in even more different feelings to the musical concept. This diverse vocal work fits in pretty well with the musical concept, as it deals mostly with contrasts between heavy and soft. Needless to say, the production of Gray also represents the record’s vibe to a tee; it is bright, but also organic and natural.
Overall Gray is a very creative, diverse and exciting record, that almost every fan of prog metal can enjoy. As most of its songs are pretty long, the full eleven-track record is more than an hour of music that won’t get you bored! Seylen. have a clear vision of their songwriting and do not not stray from it that often. However, this poses no problem, as their concept is truly full of facets. One will be able to at least enjoy either the beautiful clean passages or the heavy hitting breaks. These contrasts work out well and will give Seylen. an interesting perspective for the future. Perhaps they should look into adding even more hidden details, more orchestration and maybe blastbeats, because then they will most definitely be able to come up with great music once again! Chapeau!
Notable Tracks: “Gray Matter”, “Choreograph“, “Holder’s Comma”
FFO: Hypno5e, Gojira, The Ocean