Sirenia - Dim Days of DolorSirenia hasn’t been getting much love from AMG IndustriesTM of late, and perhaps rightly so. The bands 2015 release The Seventh Life Path was criticized harshly for both its cheesy, formulaic approach to symphonic metal and its abundance of beautiful women. The 2011 offering, The Enigma of Life, fared absolutely no better. While I will never be one to condemn the inclusion of sexy band photos (female or otherwise), I did find myself agreeing with the general sentiments; both albums were trite, shallow, and boring. And so it was with a heavy heart that I began to absorb Sirenia‘s latest album, Dim Days of Dolor. Imagine my surprise when but a few spins later I found myself nodding along to the music! Something’s amiss, I thought to myself. I came to question my metal kred, my trvness, even my job security. My reliance on ales and lager came to a head. Yet, no matter how many times I listened to Dim Days of Dolor, I couldn’t bring myself to hate it. What went so terribly wrong?

For starters, front-woman Ailyn is long gone and I must say, she shan’t be missed. Yes, Sirenia has swapped their squeaky, squealy,  X-Factor drop out in favor of Emmanuelle Zoldan, an equally attractive and much more talented opera singer from France. The improvement in quality from one singer to the other cannot be understated. It’s apparent from the opening moments of “Goddess of the Sea.” Emmanuelle is just better. Leagues better. Reminiscent of ex-Nightwish singer Tarja Turunen, Emmanuelle is both more powerful and more diverse than Ailyn, and her voice is a major reason many of the tracks on the album are enjoyable. Plus, she’s previously worked with Turisas. It’s almost unfair how rigged the competition is in her favor.

A new vocalist isn’t the only improvement, however. One of my greatest qualms with past Sirenia releases was the repetitive fretwork and song structure. Every track felt all too similar, with the guitars chug chugging along as though the band was playing core metal, god forbid. While not completely eliminated here, Dim Days of Dolor definitely does a better job of varying its tracks. A more liberal application of the choir and some additional experimentation with the strings makes the album a more interesting listen than its predecessors. Songs like “Veil of Winter” make excellent use of band founder Morden Veland’s cleans, and I wish they included more play between Emmanuelle’s voice and his own. Morden is also an undeniably talented multi-instrumentalist, and his playing throughout the record is more than satisfactory.

Thus far I’ve done nothing but sing Sirenia‘s praises, so we’d best move on to the albums flaws before I lose credibility for good. While I found Morden’s cleans rather pleasing, I absolutely cannot stand his growls. Morden’s rasps are about as terrifying as a declawed kitten, feeling so soulless I wish they were left out entirely. Thankfully, Morden leaves most of the singing to his compatriot, but this gives rise to another problem. Despite being labeled a metal record, Dim Days of Dolor rarely feels heavy.

Sirenia 2016

Back in the day, Sirenia was as much a melodeath act as they were a symphonic metal band, but any traces of brütality have long since departed. In its place, the band members have held on to their love for cheesy lyrics, themes, and structures. While such songs can be fun, they lack emotional weight, and an album that struggles to evoke emotion is an album that struggles as a metal release. Sure, the guitar work and percussion are just as technical and pummeling as anything Kamelot ever wrote, so why does Dim Days of Dolor feel so much lighter than The Black Halo? But I digress.

Believe it or not, Dim Days of Dolor is overall a success for Sirenia. It doesn’t recapture the heaviness that was lost from the band’s beginnings, nor does it manage to escape the formulaic nature symphonic metal is notorious for. But it’s an undeniably fun record and the songs are catchy enough to be entertaining, even through multiple listens. Sometimes, solid songwriting and unadulterated talent can’t be denied, and Dim Days of Dolor has both these things in spades. If you enjoy symphonic metal, you will likely enjoy this record.


Rating: 3.0/5.0
DR: 6| Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Napalm Records
Websites: sirenia.no | facebook.com/sirenia
Releases Worldwide: November 11th, 2016

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  • JWEG

    Seems that Sirenia basically willingly went back to their old pattern of hanging onto a vocalist for exactly one (full length) album. If there’s a positive to be found from the new choice being that much better a vocalist, it’s that I don’t have to invest any time at all getting used to her before she, too, is gone.

    On the other hand, the last one had shown a huge improvement with the most recently-previous album so it feels weird not knowing if another Sirenia album with her would have shown even more improvement.

    Meh. I’ll get it anyway. It’s total cheese, but it’s cheese I don’t really feel guilty for consuming…

  • Grumpyrocker

    Glad to hear it’s something of a return to form. I love the first album. But haven’t like any of the stuff with Ailyn. It’s not just her fault – terrible shrieking voice though she had – the material hasn’t been as good. But I’ve liked the couple of tracks I’ve heard from the new record. I’m not really interested whether something counts as a “metal release” or not, I’m more into whether it’s good music at all.

  • Oscar Albretsen

    What’s “Dolor,” anyway?

    • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

      Spanish for pain.

      • contenderizer

        and English for sorrow.

        • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

          It could be used to mean sorrow in Spanish as well, since you can use the word “dolor” for physical pain as well as spiritual, which qualifies as sorrow, I guess.

      • JWEG

        I kind of assumed that it was gratuitous gothy Latin, TBH.

      • Oscar Albretsen

        OK, thanks. Afox on these multi-language titles! How smart do they think I am? I’m living in a country that elected Trump!

  • Interesting you mention Enigma of Life and The Seventh Life Path but not Perils of the Deep Blue, which I thought was their best since their debut album (aside from the awful brickwalling.)

    With regards to Sirenia always sounding samey, no argument there. I’ve never been able to shake the feeling that Veland is just repeating Angellore (from his days at Tristania) over and over…

    • Feytalist

      Yeah, Perils is a really good album.

      But I’ve actually always enjoyed Sirenia, even during the dodgy Ailyn years… I still like her voice. Veland has always kept that vague Gothy undertone throughout all his projects, and I quite like that.

      Of course, I’d just be as happy with some old school Tristania, but we’re not getting that back, are we. <3 Vibeke Stene.

      • I like all the Tristania albums, even the last few, but gosh Widow’s Weeds takes me back to my youth! ?

    • Zephyrus

      My failure to mention it is mostly because it was never reviewed by us. It was better than the two I cited though, I agree!

  • AnnieK13

    mmm…cheese.

  • Kronos

    Why would you name your band after manatees and then not make doom?

    • METAL OTTER

      Sirenia – Dim Days of Dugong

  • Wilhelm

    I would hope that The Wounded’s “Sunset” album gets reviewed here

    • AnnieK13

      Listening to Sunset right now on Bandcamp.

  • MetalRushi

    Even if the new singer’s sexualploitation is without shame, the band or main front guy is known to switch singers and is rather open about it with fans. Compare it to a situation like Nightwish which the current singer thinks she has a permanent job. Wait until she gets a load a reality several years from now. Or a nasty split like Leaves Eyes. The pig for runs the band is alive and well with that organization.

  • Prostidude

    Sexy photos can work, but it doesn’t have to be band photos. I’m the proud owner of ‘Ampeauty’ by Pungent Stench. Besides some of the best old skool death metal in the business with lyrics drenched in actotomophilia and coprophagia, the album features a booklet which entirely consists of topless and nude photos of extremely sexy women, each sporting one or more amputated limbs. The music, lyrics an booklet work so well together, I consider it the holy grail of ‘full experience metal’

  • Healing Care

    Small corrections: It’s spelled “Morten” not “Morden”. And the clean vocals are not done by Morten but a guest singer (Joakim). He also sang on Elixir.