19 April 2024

Sylvaine – Nova

Releasedate: 04 March 2022
Label: Season of Mist


Sylvaine is a one-woman band founded by the multi-instrumentalist, composer and band leader Katherine Shepard. Following “Atoms Aligned Coming Undone” (2018), Sylvaine (a play on the name of one of her beloved French poets, Paul Verlaine) gives us “Nova”, an album that is both a musical and personal reawakening of a singer/composer finding her way in this world.


Nova” greets us with the album opener “Nova”, a purely magical song! I could feel the Nordic (Myrkur-like) vibes here right away. The spirit of the nature is well-intertwined with the melancholy; the night and the moon energy is prominent in this song. Considering that Sylvaine composed the album after having experienced a personal loss, I could feel her pouring out her emotions and speaking right from the heart. Therefore, there is definitely a personal approach. What a start! With “Mono No Aware”, “Nowhere, Still Somewhere” and “Fortapt”, Sylvaine shows us her progressive, harsher and post-metal side with a touch of black metal. There is the well-crafted harmony of Sylvaine’s harsh and clean vocals with a fine but raw production. Especially in “Mono No Aware”, I could hear her Norwegian roots with that black-metal sound. The way the styles are combined with her angelic voice make the album flow.


At this point, I can’t help but emphasize on “Fortapt”. This is the essence of the album and where she shines, where the emotions are at peak. This 11-minute song flows immensely, building layers and taking us listeners to different emotions. The arrangements and the transitions are perfect, leaving us at awe. Another highlight is “Everything Must Come to an End”, where, just like the opener “Nova”, her softer side and clean vocals are on the spotlight.

Despite the magic of the album, there is just one flaw I want to point at (and most of you familiar with this genre have recognized right away probably), mainly the strong similarity of Sylvaine‘s sound to Alcest‘s. While listening to “Nowhere, Still Somewhere” and the bonus track “Dissolution”, I thought to myself “Wait, isn’t this the exact same melody from Alcest’s song “Sapphire“?”. Sylvaine definitely has the uniqueness and power to capture the listener but I think that she will even shine more and stand out if she could get away a bit further from that Alcest sound we know while maintaining her essence. Surely this doesn’t mean that she is an Alcest copy but the resemblance is out there and obvious. Either way, Nova is a fantastic record that I enjoyed from beginning to the end.


Nova is definitely recommended to the lovers of post-metal genre, and in particular to the lovers of that Nordic sound as well. It’s magical and the songs come straight from the heart. If you are an Alcest and/or Myrkur fan, you will even love this album more!


Recording Line up:
  • Sylvaine – vocals, guitars, bass, synths, arrangements
  • Dorian Mansiaux – drums

01. Nova
02. Mono No Aware
03. Nowhere, Still Somewhere
04. Fortapt
05. I Close My Eyes So I Can See
06. Everything Must Come To An End
07. Dissolution [Bonus Track]