‘The Regal Bastard’ is the third in the self-proclaimed Vampire trilogy, following on from 2015’s ‘Courting The Widow’ and 2017’s ‘The Bride Said No’. Sylvan has written, arranged, produced and mixed this release (no mean feat) but has had a lot of help from luminaries in the world of Prog such as ex-Genesis guitarist Steve Hackett (whose band Sylvan fronts when not immersed in his own music); another guitarist in Guthrie Govan, best known for his work with Steven Wilson; Tony Levin; Jonas Rheingold of The Flower Kings; Nick D’Virgilio of Spock’s Beard and Big Big Train fame on drums; and Nick Beggs on backing vocals.
This release opens with ‘I Am the Sea’, which features a slightly sinister intro before developing over the course of its 8 minute length with a catchily melodic chorus and some excellent guitar work. The rest of the album, over the remaining 8 songs (including 2 bonus tracks) is very much a mixed bag.
There is what you would conceivably term ‘conventional’ prog in the title track that runs for 12 minutes, has some fabulous keyboard interludes and is well constructed; ‘Leave Me On These Waters’, which is slow paced in the style of a ballad with more superb guitar; and ‘The Lake Isle of Innisfree’ which, again, is balladic in style with some gentle acoustic guitar.
However, there are also tracks such as ‘Meet Your Maker’, which is funky in an almost reggae style with soulful female backing vocals and a slightly camp vibe and ‘Whoa (Always Been Without You)’, featuring a funk feel courtesy of the bass playing. And, just to add a layer of eccentricity, there is a sprinkling of harpsicord here and there to add to the melting pot.
I have to confess that I wasn’t familiar with Sylvan’s work and, on first listen, I thought, what the hell is this? However, on repeated plays the record has most definitely grown on me to the extent that I am eager to explore the aforementioned previous releases in this trilogy. As previously stated, this is very much a mixed bag of a release but Sylvan has the skill and artistry to pull the disparate elements into one, very listenable whole.
THE REGAL BASTARD
Review by Dave Uphill
5th July 2019
1) I Am the Sea
3) Whoa (Always Been Without You)
4) Meet Your Maker
5) The Regal Bastard
6) Leave Me on These Waters
7) Honey I'm Home
8) DIva Time
9) The Lake Isle of Innisfree
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:
"...very much a mixed bag of a release but Sylvan has the skill and artistry to pull the disparate elements into one, very listenable whole."