The Best Band in Maine is Sylvia

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Back in August we asked you to help us find the best unsigned bands in America. After listening to hundreds of submissions, we finally narrowed down our pick for the most Stephen Kingest state in the union. The best band in Maine is Sylvia.

Sylvia slaughter with a fervor that makes Stalin jealous.

I strolled down the block to the inimitable Geno’s, a true pillar of Portland’s metal community, in October to check out Steve Austin’s Today is the Day and the ‘controversial’ Lord Mantis, having been promised that I’d surely see something worth seeing. I certainly did! But what was most interesting wasn’t Today is the Day (they were really good, as expected, and I wish Steve Austin and merchandise man Trevor Thomas all the best in recovering from the crash of their touring van!) or the relentlessly boring Lord Mantis. It was Portland’s Sylvia, who opened the night up by crushing faces and looking like they had a swell time in the process.

A four-piece blackened-sludge outfit, Sylvia showed me the error of my ways- why hadn’t I indulged in the excellent Southern Maine metal community sooner?! Sylvia offer varying speeds and tempos, accelerating to enable thunderous drum beats replete with furious guitar riffs that crush souls… before abruptly taking a foot off the gas to pummel you into submission with lurching, sinister breakdowns. This effect is best illustrated by the lead track from their most recent full-length, self-titled album.

With a slow, droning intro, the action speeds up suddenly at the 1:50 mark- and doesn’t offer any reprieve until dispatching the near-lifeless corpses of listeners and plebeians around 3:45, allowing the discarded victims a chance to slowly drift off to embrace the cool embrace of the void… before coming back to finish the job at 4:45 with a hatchet. Sylvia are ruthless, man.

My favorite track in listening to them was the closer from the aforementioned Sylvia, entitled “Ukelelian.” “Ukelelian” offers some of their trademark tempo play and really calls to mind the early days of Isis (think The Red Sea and Celestial-era Isis) during the slower sections. As a big Isis fan-boy, I consider this to be a flattering comparison. They certainly differ, though, with the inclusion of faster, more aggressive sections in their music, a trait Isis lacked… and one that really makes the breakdowns in Sylvia more brutal and punishing courtesy of the contrast.

Sylvia don’t seem to be particularly active on the internet/social media, but you can get periodic updates and buy music from the following places: FacebookBandcampEncyclopedia Metallum.


The Toilet ov Hell is on an absurd quest to find the best unsigned band in each state of this glorious union. The purpose? To shine the spotlight on bands that deserve more exposure. Also, we’re going to determine once and for all the greatest state in the nation. Each state winner is decided by a collection of 25 judges. After we’ve announced the winner of each state, we’re gonna throw them all in a winner-take-all bracket and leave the votes up to you. Who will be the best unsigned band in the United States? Which state is superior? We can’t wait to find out.

Previous winners:

Alabama — Phylum
Alaska — Terraform
Arizona – Take Over And Destroy
Arkansas – Torii
California – Destroy Judas
Colorado – The Sleer
Connecticut – Autumn’s Eyes
Delaware – Sloss
Florida – Capracide
Georgia – Lost Hours
Hawaii – Darkest Path
Idaho – Rotten Hand
Illinois – Deus Ex
Indiana – Thorr-Axe
Kansas – Bummer
Kentucky – Ad Infinitum
Louisiana – Withering Light

(Photo VIA)

  • Death

    This I can dig. I may even go ahead and throw my 5 euros to these guys.

  • VV.

    i dig

  • Tom Waits For Better Days

    This ain’t half bad. I’m not gonna buy their album… yet. But I’m keeping an eye.

  • congrats on your second article, Steve!!

    • Herr Schmitty

      I had to get off my lazy ass and support my state, now!

  • Akercocke ov Steele
  • The Satan Ov Hell

    I sometimes forget Maine exists.

  • Tis the season, bitches.

    http://youtu.be/HtWADEdKN6c

  • KJM

    Wow, the Metal scene up North has progressed.

    • BLVKKBEVRD DVRKWORK

      Hopefully the pacific nw has some atmospheric black metal love in this series…

      • I’ve always been amazed why Chicago isn’t a black metal hub. Long, cold winters and wintery atmospheres, plenty of death, etc. should make for some espically awesome American black metal.

        • KJM

          I know, makes Boston look almost like Los Angeles half the time, ditto with Minneapolis.

          • Detroit and Flint should be making more grim black metal too.

          • KJM

            At least something with a little more substance than that King 810 rubbish.

          • I like King 810. More the gimmick than anything, and it’s simple and unapologeticly violent music. I don’t expect them to last long though. Their CD, despite the push, only sold 2000 copies (shit by Roadrunner’s corporate standards), their felony status, and their numbnut antics in general.

          • KJM

            I can’t see them as anything more than a comedy act, and they seem determined to shoot themselves in the foot(career-wise) at every opportunity.

    • Herr Schmitty

      It has! Today is the Day, Falls of Rauros, Sylvia… there are a number of other good’uns up here too!

      • KJM

        Looks like Geno’s is the place to be now. It was years ago too but for entirely different reasons. The Asylum needs to try and reach out to more national acts too(not that they haven’t been getting any). Playing Portland can be a hard sell to acts that have neither the budget or the desire to go further North than Boston.

  • VV.

    Good write-up, Shmitty.

    • Herr Schmitty

      Grazzi, Il Presidente!

      • Tom Waits For Better Days

        Your Smithwick!? Obvious now that I think of it, how the heck did I not get that

        • Herr Schmitty

          Even my aliases are thinly veiled. I’m not a particularly private compadre 😉

  • BLVKKBEVRD DVRKWORK
  • Lacertilian

    Bummer still wins.

  • KJM

    OFF TOPIC: For those who were wondering if Opeth’s US tour would be worth catching, here’s the set list they’re going with from the Chicago show.

    t01 Eternal Rains Will Come

    t02 Cusp of Eternity

    t03 The Drapery Falls

    t04 The Moor

    t05 Windowpane

    t06 The Lotus Eater

    t07 The Grand Conjuration

    t08 Deliverance

    I’m still on the fence, may hold out for a full headline tour.

    • I’d skip, personally.

      • KJM

        They did 1/3 of these songs when I saw Opeth back in 2012 and that was a double bill as well. I’d rather see a full headline tour with one solid support act than this, especially considering I’m not big on Red Fang or In Flames.

        • Saw them way back when on their Damnation tour, interviewed Mikael, and sadly only got an acoustic show. Porcupine Tree wasn’t bad, but I haven’t quite been able to get into PT since. I’m one of those assholes who would rather they do 75% old stuff, and 25% mellow numbers in between.

          • KJM

            I like ‘Fear Of A Blank Planet’ a lot but that’s about it for PT.

  • Dental_Damnation

    Can we do a Canadian version of this sometime? Im sure there’s enough fellow Canucks on here to put a list per province together

    • Yep! It’ll take a long while to get through the US (this thing is a fucking challenge) but when we wrap it up I’d like to do this with our neighbors to the north.

      • JWG

        I’d be into this just to see if there’s anything going on in any one of the three Canadian territories way up north.

        Metal Archives lists just one active band from each of Yukon (of a past 4 – one split up and two moved) and NWT. Both utterly predictably from their respective Capital Cities.

        And then there’s Nunavut’s one and only:

        http://www.metal-archives.com/bands/Northern_Haze/3540345237

  • Renan Ribeiro

    I stopped reading and clicked play once I read “blackened sludge”

    After two chords, count me in, this is fucking great