REVIEW: Sirenia – Riddles, Ruins & Revelations

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Norwegian symphonic/Gothic metal outfit SIRENIA has been a well-established value in the scene for quite some time now. Founded back in 2001 by allrounder Morten Veland, also known for his work with former Gothic metal act TRISTANIA, the band has built an impressive repertoire and equally enthusiastic fanbase. Alliteration-loving Veland has outdone himself again with a new album that really has a ring to it: “Riddles, Ruins & Revelations,” out on February 12th, 2021, via Napalm Records. Check out our interview with the band here.

Opening track “Addiction No. 1” kicks in the door with the perfect combination of catchiness and a certain kind of edginess I have always appreciated in SIRENIA‘s music. The edginess I speak of continues to set them apart in the symphonic/Gothic metal landscape, a road paved with modern influences and experimental soundscapes. This time, electronic beats set the tone for a remarkably infectious record. Followed by “Towards An Early Grave,” a curtain of darkness slowly envelops the thumping dance waves and brings us closer to SIRENIA’s original musical identity.

Mezzo-soprano Emmanuelle Zoldan is classically trained and has effortlessly adjusted to the spotlight as charismatic frontwoman. She showcases her awe-striking vocal range in “Into Infinity,” a bombastic display of operatic bliss. The song structure in “Downwards Spiral” is very entertaining, with a brilliant interaction, not only between drums and synths, but also Emmanuelle Zoldan and guest vocalist Joakim Næss. It has the catchiest hooks on the album, and even sports a dance breakdown before a phenomenal guitar solo.

In the harsher, passionate “We Come To Ruins,” another side of the band kicks in, darker yet still in tune with the balanced atmosphere SIRENIA is aiming for. On that note, “Beneath The Midnight Sun” proves to be the most incredible balancing feat, bringing two of the most unlikely genres together in a mash-up between hard-edged riffs and bouncy beats. Yet, somehow, it works! “December Snow” and “Passing Seasons” rely on slow build-ups, filled up to the brink with emotion. Zoldan’s angelic singing, accompanied by the eerie melancholia the band so intricately weaves is truly captivating.

’80s synth pop and ’90s eurodance seem to be intricately interwoven in “Riddles, Ruins & Revelations” – a big plus if you are into this particularly synth-driven sound. If you are not, however, it can be a bit too much at times, taking the “Voyage, Voyage” cover as a fitting example. What compensates for some of the more predictable or repetitive parts of the album, is the sheer professional musicianship displayed in details such as smashing guitar solos by lead player Nils Courbaron. Also worth mentioning is that Morten Veland went through the entire process of mixing and mastering himself, which is quite admirable.

In short, SIRENIA lands another entertaining album that will fit nicely in one’s playlist alongside the likes of BEYOND THE BLACK and AMARANTHE. The electronic vibes are a twist that will be a hit or miss among fans, but do manage to liven up the dark, symphonic core of the band’s signature sound. The band does a great job at balancing both without losing their inherent identity. Still evolving after ten albums, as versatile and innovating as ever, we definitely haven’t seen the last of SIRENIA yet.

Tracklist

1. Addiction No. 1
2. Towards An Early Grave
3. Into Infinity
4. Passing Seasons
5. We Come To Ruins
6. Downwards Spiral
7. Beneath The Midnight Sun
8. The Timeless Waning
9. December Snow
10. This Curse Of Mine
11. Voyage Voyage

Lineup

Morten Veland – Guitar, vocals
Emmanuelle Zoldan – Vocals
Nils Courbaron – Guitars, vocals
Michael Brush – Drums

Label

Napalm Records

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