Sylvaine
Atoms Aligned, Coming Undone


4.0
excellent

Review

by Chamberbelain CONTRIBUTOR (198 Reviews)
October 31st, 2018 | 27 replies


Release Date: 2018 | Tracklist

Review Summary: An album that is as intimately personal as it is universally relatable.

Not so long ago it felt like every new discovery in metal came in the form of an atmospheric post-metal band. Groups such as Skuggsja, Sumac and Oathbreaker stemmed from already established artists while a fresh onslaught of bands- Dynfari, Svalbard, Harakiri for the Sky and Departe, to name a few- either entered the fray or started to gain increased attention. Now that particular subgenre is less bottlenecked than it was, the ones who managed to squeeze through can no longer blend in with the rest of the crowd. Consequently, they are more visible and more susceptible to scrutiny than they once were. Due to the sheer number of bands who were producing similar icy soundscapes, another artist by the name of Sylvaine never received the initial level of acclaim that she deserved.

Sylvaine is a Norwegian solo-instrumentalist who released her fantastic sophomore album in 2016. Appropriately titled, “Wistful” illustrated a serene environment in which reflective melodies entwined with ethereal vocals danced around airily. Looking back, with those kinds of attributes, Sylvaine was destined to be one of the artists who would soon stand above the rest of the crowd. Thus, her third album “Atoms Aligned, Coming Undone” faces the bold task of refining her previous efforts as well as setting the standard for the current quieter state of atmospheric post metal.

Immediately, the title track introduces a peculiar bass line unlike her previous efforts yet exuding an oddly familiar feeling. Dejected, this dark riff slinks around throughout the duration of the song. However, despite its forlorn mood, it acts as an unexpected backbone to support the emotional burden Sylvaine’s beautiful wails and swelling guitars during the song’s gradual climax. Further examples of maturity and diversity are unearthed during “Abeyance” where her characteristic smoky slivery shade takes on an iridescent hue. No less emotionally piercing, the guitars and her misty voice appear to emit an array of sentiments both spiritual and physical. Like feeling peacefully numb or warm but anxious at the same time.

Considering the template of the album is drawn from feeling trapped inside the human body, longing to reach something greater which resides outside our weaker selves, opposition is the chief expression throughout “Atoms Aligned, Coming Undone”, whether it describes the duality between physical and spiritual, as the album’s influence describes, or simply combining opposing sonic forces in an attempt to create something one can truly immerse themselves in. “L’Appel du Vide” is a highly emotional track that is tangible both spiritually and physically. Standing at the edge of a cliff, Sylvaine’s tender, peaceful voice is a warm breath against your skin as the cold breeze of guitars rushes through your hair. It sounds contemplative as if, looking out at the landscape, you ask yourself “what if I took one more, one final step forward…” A brief pause, then falling. Falling into the enveloping darkness but blissfully free. Sylvaine does not sing or wail during this climax which intensifies the song’s pensive, private and personal demeanour. A rather depressing, but exquisite way to conclude an album.

Every aspect of “Atoms Aligned, Coming Undone” appears amplified in comparison to Sylvaine’s previous two albums. Sylvaine’s ethereal and ambient elements havenever faltered before, and nor do they on this album. In keeping with the sense of duality this album resonates, her clean vocals are more than blindingly radiant but also heart-breaking and bitterly nostalgic. On the other, darker end of the scale, rough guitars that snarled at the sight of adversity now bite and tear at its opponent while her improved harsh vocals mimic a similar attitude. “Morklagt” unleashes the wild side or Sylvaine best where her patient gliding vocals are punished by pure, Nordic black metal tremolo that would make the forerunners of the genre crack a wry smile in approval. Guitars make a stormy rumble rather than an icy blast, glassy, glacial cries are shattered by fierce screeches. The explosion of sudden intensity is both wondrous and terrifying, like watching a lightning storm draw near.

At face value, “Atoms Aligned, Coming Undone” is an outstanding piece of work considering how one person has created something so expansive; an album that is as intimately personal as it is universally relatable. Beneath that, however, lies music that is plagued with doubt, anxiety, regret, longing and desperation but all it takes is to conjure the faintest spark of hope to dispel these forces and Sylvaine launches her audience into blissful catharsis. If the album’s inspiration was drawn from feeling trapped in herself yet yearning for some higher power, then this is the sound of Sylvaine within touching distance of that greatness.



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user ratings (36)
Chart.
3.7
great


Comments:Add a Comment 
Chamberbelain
Contributing Reviewer
October 31st 2018


112 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Album streaming in full here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yQ_bmkCiBa4

Digging: Sylvaine - Atoms Aligned, Coming Undone

Ashtiel
October 31st 2018


206 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

gonna listen to this thing soon and pretty sure it's already out and about in 320 kbps



real excited either way

Digging: Azusa - Heavy Yoke

DungeonBoy
October 31st 2018


4917 Comments


I love how in 2018 several major labels now upload their albums in full for youtube streaming cause they know someone else is just going to anyways..

Sounding more like Alcest then the last album which is a-okay in my book.

Didn't see it in the review but I believe Neige did the drums on this

Digging: Vouna - Vouna

teamster
October 31st 2018


3324 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I’ll wait for a FLAC version before I give this a go. Streaming does not do music justice. Excellent review and thanks.

Digging: SOM - The Fall

Dewinged
October 31st 2018


12170 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Oh sweet! I was really looking forward to the follow up to Wistful. I was gonna wait for the official stream tomorrow but I might just peep that link. Great stuff as always Chamb.

Digging: Azusa - Heavy Yoke

NocteDominum
Contributing Reviewer
November 1st 2018


9091 Comments


Gonna have to get on this, the Alcest name drops are piling some serious interest

Chamberbelain
Contributing Reviewer
November 1st 2018


112 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Neige did some of the drums, her father did some others but o didn't want to draw attention away from her own efforts in my review. I also feel like a lot of people know sylvaine through the alcest input anyway.

Dewinged
November 1st 2018


12170 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Yeah I knew it from her first album but wasn't sure if Neige did smth for this one.

DungeonBoy
November 1st 2018


4917 Comments


I wish my dad would record drums for me. Gonna jam this in full today

DarkNoctus
November 1st 2018


10527 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

i cannot express how massive a leap in quality this is over her other material



holy shit

Digging: Antimatter - Black Market Enlightenment

RikRoach7
November 1st 2018


3568 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

It's her best for sure. Still kinda feels like an Alcest spin-off a lot of the time, but it's a very satisfying listen from start to finish nonetheless.

teamster
November 1st 2018


3324 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

That picture of her with that purple goo all over her face is the fucking shit...

DarkNoctus
November 1st 2018


10527 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

i'm happy with all the alcest spin-offs in the world provided they're done this well

Dewinged
November 1st 2018


12170 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Yeah came here to say the same, huge improvement on Wistful but she can't shake off the Alcest shadow (not that she needs to). This is a delight.

Ashtiel
November 2nd 2018


206 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

suitably cathartic and really beautiful at times.





JesperL
November 2nd 2018


312 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

damn, this really fits the season.

DarkNoctus
November 2nd 2018


10527 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

this is a lot closer to old les discrets than alcest imo

RikRoach7
November 3rd 2018


3568 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

There's definitely a lot of Ariettes Oubliées on this, agreed (Mørklagt's subdued section reminds me of Au Creux d l'Hiver). Les Discrets have always been close to Alcest in sound though, so it's automatically both.

teamster
November 3rd 2018


3324 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

This , Anomalie , Lantlos , Numenorean ...Fen are writing new material as we speak ...new shit on the horizon friends !!!

CaptainDooRight
November 9th 2018


2589 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

love this



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