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Sylvan Realm - Not Following Any Blueprint

By: Mike Sloan

Sylvan Realm has been around in one form or another for a few years but it wasnít until recently that we at Blistering got our grubby mitts on the bandís debut full-length album The Lodge of Transcendence. Though the album officially was released during the latter stages of 2011, The Lodge of Transcendence wasnít exactly easy to track down, thus our fashionably late review.

Whatever the case may be, itís actually the perfect time to be introduced to that album because the band, led by guitarist/vocalist Sylvan Schneider, is one of the more interesting newer ones in all of metal. Demonstrating a sound that is equally as gripping as it is diverse, Sylvan Realm is not your typical black metal band. In fact, Schneider himself openly admits that his band isnít black metal all; rather a perfect concoction of every genre of music he and his fellow bandmates consume on a daily basis.

Schneider was kind of enough to take some time out of his day to chat with us about
The Lodge of Transcendence and its follow-up, which was scheduled to be recorded just a few weeks after we spoke. A candid, honest man, Schneider wears his influences on his sleeves and is ready to take the metal world by storm, even it means confounding some who ingest his music.

Blistering.com: First off, congrats on The Lodge of Transcendence. This was one of those albums that slipped through the cracks when it came out initially but it seems people (media, fans) are finally catching on. Itís gotten plenty of positive reviews. Are you pleased and satisfied with the overall final product?

Sylvan Schneider:
Yeah Iím quite happy with the product, the album. It was quite a big idea in my head, a way to mix and infuse all the different ideas and styles that I listen to. Taking those influences and making into an album and giving it a unique style or sound was a challenge. I tried to create something original and not play just some orthodox style. So Iím very happy with how it turned out.

As far as the reviews go, Iíve gotten some really great reviews. Iíve gotten some haters, too, but I think every band is going to have mixed reviews for their albums. But those negative reviews have been just as interesting as the positive reviews. I think Ė speaking of the negative reviewers Ė some of them were confused because they maybe didnít know what to expect or that maybe they expected one thing and got something else. I think some of the negative reviewers were expecting just some sort of straightforward black metal album. I think some of them expected or even wanted Sylvan Realm to be your typical American black metal band or whatever. I donít consider our music to be black metal, even though there are plenty of black metal influence. I grew up listening to black metal. Itís definitely not a straightforward black metal release at all. I think some people were put off by that because they were expecting an orthodox black metal album but then they got something with all sorts of different styles and genres. I think it threw some people off.

Blistering.com: When you read these reviews, the ones where you can tell the reviewer was expecting something else and was put off by your sound; do you shrug it off as laziness on the part of said reviewer? Or is there some validity in their opinion because they just donít like what youíve created?

Iím not 100% sure. I canít say for sure itís someone being lazy because itís hard to tell if thatís the case. I donít think itíd be fair to call someone ďlazyĒ because I honestly donít know. However, I know my music is certainly not for everyone. I was saying this to someone else for another interview recently: I think it has to do with someoneís musical pallet. I think many fans or media arenít overly adventurous and prefer to stick to their orthodox stance. When they want to hear black metal, they pretty much just stick to their Immortal, Gorgoroth and Burzum albums. But when they pick up a Sylvan Realm CD, they are put off because they think black metal should sound only this way or that way. Then they hear my album and theyíre put off by it because their pallet isnít used to it and they donít know what to do with it. Iím guessing those are people who donít listen to a wide variety of music. Yes, I play dark, very extreme metal but youíll also hear Deep Purple influences, Judas Priest, King Diamond, EmperorÖ all kinds of stuff going on. All I can guess is that itís reviewers who arenít really adventurous with what they listen to. They probably donít listen to all the different types of styles that I put into my music.

Blistering.com: With that said and considering how many different influences you have within your music, when you are creating a new song and you realize that your riff sounds too similar to someone else, do you scrap it because it may be too similar? Or do you keep that riff and just alter it sound as unique as possible?

Iíd probably go with it, but when I am writing riffs for new songs, I try to not sound like anybody else but at the same time Iím not afraid to let my influences shine through. I donít think thereís been too many times where Iím writing a riff and Iíll go, ďOh this sounds too much like Judas PriestĒ or ďThis sounds too much like TestamentĒ or anything like that. But at the same time, I think itís pretty cool if someone can pick up a riff and figure out kind of where it came from, the influences that kind of created that riff. With that said, I usually just stay with it. I try to stay original but at the same time I sometimes like to have my influences shine through. I donít think Iíd throw something away that Iím working on if itís good, but then halfway through I realize that Ė oops Ė it sounds a little too much like another band. Iíll go with it if Iím proud of it and think itís a good riff.

Blistering.com: There are hundreds of thousands of rock/metal albums out there and the music has been going strong for decades. After all these years and after literally millions of riffs put to record, itís as if every note structure has already been done. How hard is it to not only come up with a good riff, but a full song that is totally original or unique?

Thatís a very good question. Youíre right; there are hundreds of thousands of bands and albums and today we have black metal, death metal, folk metal, beer metal [chuckles], thrash, etc. There are so many bands out there and it is challenging to stay original, ahead of the curve, unique or whatever term you might use. For me, when I started Sylvan Realm, I wanted to start something that was as original and unique and different as possible. For whatever reason, itís always been kind of easy for me to stay unique and create a different sound. Like we were talking about earlier, I listen to so many different styles and genres of music. Just by incorporating jazz, blues, gothic, avant-garde, different kinds of metal and mixing it all together all comes natural to me.

The other thing that has helped me is during the recording process, Iíve always been mindful of what kind of gear Iím using and what tones Iím making. The amps and the instruments that I use arenít just some generic or run-of-the-mill equipment. I spent a lot of time researching and studying the equipment. I guess it is challenging to create something new and creative but for whatever reason, it just kind of comes natural to me. The goal of the band is to infuse all the different influences together.

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