Nad Sylvan - The Bride Said No2015’s Courting the Widow by the dandyish Nad Sylvan was a sadly overlooked little gem. It’s one of my favorite prog releases in recent years and was perhaps unfortunate to miss out on my 2015 list. It featured accomplished prog in the vein of the ’70s but most importantly had a charming joviality and insincerity which made it a genuine pleasure to hear. I was therefore only too happy to find that a sequel was primed for release called The Bride Said No. The intervening 2 years have done nothing to quell Nad’s love for storytelling but I was more interested to hear if the ubiquitous Genesis influence had at all subsided.

I previously took flak for daring to suggest that Nad’s voice sounds quite like Peter Gabriel, and his music like Genesis. I’ll dare to say it again; it’s sort of the point. He toured with Genesis as Gabriel’s replacement and as such needed the vocals and charisma to fill those illustrious shoes. His soulful croons sit atop progressive rock which is heavily indebted to the 70s, utilizing the entire repertoire of guitar noodlings, organs, flutes, harpsichords, pianos and the kitchen sink. I would say that there’s a decidedly more modern feel this time around: instrumental tones and the overall feel are slightly harsher but aren’t necessarily a problem. The largest musical update is the heavier passages which feature actual metal riffs. The groove-laden guitar lead on “The White Crown” wouldn’t be out of place on a Pantera record, for example. These few passages are a surprising but not unwelcome addition to Nad’s tool-kit.

As with Courting the Widow, however, the music’s narrative is the greatest boon to The Bride Said No. It retains the almost musical theater feel I noted before but this time to a greater extent as the story sounds quite cohesive. Courting the Widow told numerous little tales to my ears but this album tracks a single narrative of the Bride. “The Quartermaster” and “The White Crown” on the record’s front half are a tonal continuation from before, retaining that frivolity. But the back half definitely takes a turn for the darker: I wonder what evil the Bride has undertaken on “What Have You Done” and why exactly it is that the Bride said no on the title track. I’d be interested to read the lyrics to get a grasp on all that transpires. Nad Sylvan is a compelling storyteller and the arc constructed ensures that The Bride Said No is ultimately a satisfying listen.

Nad Sylvan 2017This tale arguably feels more cohesive as a result of greater stylistic consistency. Mid-paced, measured material is prevalent here, especially past the record’s opening. However, this more subdued regularity means that the fun factor from Courting the Widow is much less present. So while the concept is executed more thoroughly, it detracts from the enjoyment I gleaned. Certainly, by “Crime of Passion” and “A French Kiss in an Italian Cafe” towards the end, The Bride Said No starts to feel overly long. The former is chaotic to fit the plot but it isn’t a great track itself, while the latter plods with little temporal variation. A further consequence of the lesser lively and melodic characteristics is a lack of stand-out moments. Though The Bride Said No has definitely grown on me, I was initially disappointed by this next to the great individual songs boasted by Courting the Widow.

Nonetheless, what remains is still a fulfilling prog album. My gut response faded and has been replaced by appreciation for the subtler hooks and greater profundity. The relatively dynamic master and excellently-produced drums certainly sweeten the deal and the cohesive feel of The Bride Said No leaves things on a positive note. I feel harsh relentlessly comparing it to Courting the Widow but that’s inevitable when I was so enamored previously. If nothing else, I hope Nad gains respect from those who scoffed at the Gabriel comparison because he deserves that.

Rating: 3.0/5.0
DR: 10 | Format Reviewed: 192 kbps MP3
Label: Inside Out Music |
Releases worldwide: May 26th, 2017

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  • a glass o’ milk

    Saw him live supporting Steve Hackett this year, so I am curious about this one…

    • brutal_sushi

      Ditto… Side note, the guy playing the wind instruments and the keys, and other thangs… how sick of musician was he?!

      • a glass o’ milk

        yeah he pretty much owned the show

  • HeavyMetalHamster

    Looks like Dee Snider’s younger sister.

    • Sean Sky

      It is

      • HeavyMetalHamster

        Well then…..

  • Martin Knap

    The bride is not legally entitled to say no.

  • Tofu muncher

    I never heard of this dude before. But you had me at Gabriel’s replacement, and was not disappointed.

  • Why does so much prog feature the Muppets singing the chorus? Discuss.

    • Drew Music

      Because they all love the work of their amphibious leader/frontfrog in Haken. Green with envy, they know it ain’t easy, but the Muppets will one day rule over all that is metal.
      Haken stahted wit the frog and now we here.
      For real, though, there are a few moments during Cockroach King which I absolutely refuse to believe were performed by anyone other than Kermit.

  • Huck N’ Roll

    To me it brings to mind Jethro Tull more than Peter Gabriel. It’s a good album regardless, though.

    • AnnieK13

      I really hear the Gabriel or more Gabriel era Genesis…

    • Thatguy

      Really? Definitely Gabriel and Genesis. Yawn.

  • Antilight

    At about 1:02 into the song I suddenly wanted some of Mom’s Spaghetti.

  • AnnieK13

    I can see why you mention Gabriel but for me Peter Gabriel occupies a special place in my heart and this may share some elements and similarities but is nowhere in the same league. I was lucky enough to see Mr. Gabriel in his prime a number of times and no one else has ever come close live – I saw the tours for Gabriel 3, Security and So. Entire stadium filled in a sold out show and you could have heard a pin drop in the quiet moments, just completely spellbinding.

    • El_Cuervo

      I was pretty much addressing you when I said I took flak haha. I remember you from the past review.

      • AnnieK13

        Yeah – it’s hard for me to let go of my college era ‘gabriel is god’ bias and listen with an open mind to anyone compared to him.

        However, I see this album has made its way on to Amazon unlimited so I fully intend to give it a few listens.

  • Jolund

    This album was quite a bit better than I’d expected.
    It really was solid pleasure all the way.
    Nad gets a 4,8/5

  • RamonTaberna

    I think Nad Sylvan has never been on tour with Genesis, or am I wrong?