I got this album the same week as I received the new Nightwish to review. “So What?” some might ask, “Who Cares? Get on with the review” others may insist, but I bring this up because when you listen to where both bands are at the moment, it’s a bit of a stretch that the two can be categorized in the same genre, let alone Sirenia be considered ‘for fans of Nightwish’ on various forums and other sites (which is that usual it’s-got-a-female-singer-who-else-is-successful-and-has-one-too-oh-yes-Nightwish-they’ll-do attitude). Sirenia are Symphonic Metal, yes, but much heavier, contain harsh and clean male vocals, write very heavy bombastic, epic, unpredictable songs and have actually had the same singer for four albums in a row (Nightwish struggle on this one…). If you like Nightwish’s heavier side there will be something about Sirenia you will love, but if you want folk-influenced catchy hits, then maybe look elsewhere. Enough of Nightwish, lets crack on with Sirenia…
If you’d like an in-depth look at their previous release it’s comprehensively covered by the editor elsewhere on Ave Noctum and I’m sure he (and other fans) will be pleased to hear there has been no radical musical departure since then (and also very pleased that there is no ‘Ditt Endelikt 2’ I’m sure!). That review also does an admirable job of recounting the band’s history too so I’ll leap at the opportunity to be a lazy shite and move straight on to the new album (cheers Pete!). Sirenia’s seventh album (if only there was a hint to this in the title…) still finds the band leaning towards the epic and they still don’t do catchy you-tube friendly ’30 seconds in and you know the song’ type ditties (thankfully). Nope, songwriter and multi instrumentalist Morten Veland has a penchant for the epic and grandiose – as long as it’s wrapped up in powerful, atmospheric, full-on Metal. Yes they’ve found their niche (somewhere in the ballpark of Epica if pushed for a similar comparison) but there is always something around each metaphorical corner waiting to catch you out.
So, although Sirenia don’t really do “catchy” as such, ‘The Silver Eye’ has a hook/chorus as memorable as anything you will hear in this genre. They are, as mentioned earlier Symphonic Metal…yet ‘Elixir’ is one of the finest pieces of Gothic Metal I’ve heard in years, echoing the best of Charon and To/Die/For. Actually, Sirenia are so unpredictable that when met with the opening strains of ‘Contemptuous Quitus’ I thought I was in for a rather interesting cover of Bon Jovi’s ‘It’s My Life’. Now even though this now looks bad for me knowing a Bon Jovi track well enough to draw a comparison, it actually reflects better on Sirenia. Granted, it’s only the opening few bars that have a slight sound of it, but the fact that I thought Sirenia COULD and MIGHT cover a Bon Jovi track is yet another example of their virtuosity and unpredictability (Betcha thought I couldn’t pull THAT back to be a compliment for Sirenia eh?…no, neither did I for a moment there…). This album, like their previous offerings, is a journey that has as much to offer on the first listen as it does on it’s tenth. Sirenia are still crafting and developing their sound. There are unexpected time-changes, mood swings, heaviness bordering on Viking Metal balanced with sweet angelic moments, and they all gel perfectly together to give Sirenia their own unique sound.
Actually, “The Seventh Life Path” does just enough to hook you in. Then, once you are in there, being bombarded by all manor of intricacies and dynamics, it’s hard to find the compulsion to leave again. So basically, Sirenia are for fans of…Sirenia. It’s simple really. They have earned that personal tag by releasing top quality Heavy Symphonic Metal albums one after another in their own style, following their own instincts. “The Seventh Life Path” is just the latest gem in that impressive catalogue.
(8/10 Andy Barker)