sToa
(Silmand)
2008
Crank this to 8.5 of 11
Genre:
Neo-Classical Goth
Sounds Like:
Autumn Tears, Clan of Xymox
sToa's 2008 masterpiece is one that will soothe the dark side of your spirit.  Easily one of the most calming and enthralling obscure albums we have come across in a long time.  Silmand is a sonic whirlwind covering gothic theatrical and ethereal landscapes. Mandy Bernhardt's majestic vocals are overlaid with a diverse range of instruments such as the organ, synth, harp, flute, cello, and unique percussion.

sToa formed in 1991 by German creator Olaf Parusel (composition/arrangement), have only put out 4 albums in the span of 17 years. After a long hiatus sToa has returned with a vengeance. Adding several new artists to their arsenal such as the Australian multi-instrumentalist Louisa John-Krol.  The mainstay throughout the album is Olaf's awe inspiring piano work. Silmand has become a mainstay in our heavy rotation primarily for its relaxing and otherworldly feel. The first five tracks feature Mandy's soft vocals in a variety of different lights.  The album quickly turns on "My Last Way", as we are hit with some classic malevolent male tenor vocals that will startle you. Track eight, "Ways" is one of our favorites, providing imagery of an apparition playing piano in a dark musty attic space. A track that is well suited for the classic film The Changeling.

After many listens you will continue to discover some new elements. The 'neo-classical' style is accentuated on "La Lune Blanche" and "Iter Devium". "So Many Clouds" provides a very pious and healing touch. Track 13, Lacitum, is a terrific closer featuring a piano arrangement that will stop you in your tracks. So melancholy and powerful.

Silmand is a wonderful escape. from the every day.  This is a genre where the vast majority of artists often take things way over the top. sToa, however, are raw and authentic and have taken their time to put out an album that is so well balanced and mood inducing. We highly recommend picking this one up if you are looking for a spiritual diversion. We will certainly pursue further the previous works by sToa. - 1/31/2014

Standout Tracks: My Last Way, So Many Clouds
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