Review: Sirenia “Riddles, Ruins & Revelations” [Napalm Records]

Review: Sirenia “Riddles, Ruins & Revelations” [Napalm Records]

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“A modern ride straight into the heart of symphonic metal!” – that’s how Sirenia‘s tenth album Riddles, Ruins & Revelations press release starts. Intriguing, isn’t it? To tell the truth, I’m getting a little itchy when I see a word “modern” in a context of Metal but maybe this time it will be fine?

Sirenia, which turns 20 this year, was formed when multi-instrumentalist, songwriter and producer Morten Veland left Tristania to play the music he liked and more suitable for his views – grim, dark mix of Gothic and Symphonic Metal. Throughout a couple of albums the band really did it and their fan base was pretty growing but later there were more and more electronic samples and that’s how we got to Riddles, Ruins & Revelations.

The notorious “A modern ride” lies in prevailing synths and explicit pop elements. To tell the truth, “prevailing” is a very gentle word because the album, as a matter of fact, riddled with it, while guitars and drums basically play as a support and muffled in the mix pretty well. However, such approach has its right to life but in my picture of the world it called Modern Metal, Dance Metal, Whatever-you-want Metal, anything but Symphonic.

Actually, the first song “Addiction No. 1” illustrates all I’ve said above: sampled intro, lots of synth against the background of pretty heavy guitars and enjoyable vocals from Emmanuelle Zoldan with quite conventional vocal line though. Feels like musicians tried to create some kind of Modern Symphonic Gothic Metal but in the end it became a little bit dark Amaranthe.

Emmanuelle shows her skills from time to time, using operatic vocals, like in “Towards To An Early Grave” and “Passing Seasons” but such shreds just show the untapped potential. At the same time, roaring growls of Morten himself sound very good and convincingly, following the “beauty and the beast” formula.

However, it should be commended that other nine tracks and “Voyage Voyage” cover sound better than the first track: “December Snow” starts with quite symphonic intro with a spoken word in French and Nils Courbaron’s fast and melodic solo. There are some choir samples in “The Timeless Warning”, tough chorus with growls and Emmanuelle plays with her voice. In its turn, “We Come To Ruins”, overfilled with synth and electronics as well, is probably the darkest and surprisingly the most diverse track in the album.

Nevertheless, mostly the songs here are not exactly monotonous but rather made by the same template (however, not only Sirenia make it this way). For example, “Into Infinity” is a dynamic song, guitars and drums are fast technical; there is even some ominous growling here. But all of this fade quite fast, while synth and samples stay. Or “Downward Spiral”, the only song with male clean vocals, delivered by Joakim Næss: Emmanuelle plays with intonations greatly, sings in different languages but you can’t get rid of the dance beat, even when you hear tough guitars. There a lot of hooks, melodic choruses and good riffs here apparently, but for some reason they are not catchy enough and you forget almost everything after listening.

And still, is Riddles, Ruins & Revelations is that bad? Can’t say so either: there is still heavy guitar sound here, Michael Brush’ great drumming with good, technical and usually interesting guitar solos. Emmanuelle Zoldan pleases with her voice and intonations as well. But those, who was expecting for Sirenia’s symphony with gothic darkness will be disappointed. On the other hand, I almost sure that fans of Amaranthe and Beyond The Black last works will have another favorite band in their playlist. Well, everyone survives the way he can.

Riddles, Ruins & Revelations will be released on February, 12th via Napalm Records.

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