Sirenia // The Enigma of Life
Rating: 1.5/5.0 —The Banality of This Album
Label: Nuclear Blast [EU | US]
Websites: mortenveland.com/sirenia | myspace.com/sirenia
Release Dates: EU: 21.01.2011 | US: 02.15.2011

So, I must admit, I was excited to hear this new Sirenia record. For whatever reason I’d not spent much time getting to know the band of former Tristania founding member Morten Veland and I guess I figured that Sirenia had to be pretty good ’cause, well, I’m willing to give people who have done cool shit the benefit of the doubt. Of course, it’s been a decade since the band formed and I’ve never had the kind of intrinsic motivation to actually go out there and try to learn the about the band, and after listening to The Enigma of Life I’m pretty damn glad I never wasted my damn time [see the final note, however –  AMG].

So, let me just start by saying: I’ve heard this band before. And really? I’m tired of it. You can call me bitter and jaded (or angry), but I’d just say that I’m not a fan of derivative crap. And Sirenia may be founded by one of the members of the band who founded the genre, but that doesn’t mean that they’re doing it any better than anyone else in 2011. ‘This is orchestral metal as you’ve totally heard it before. Large, bombastic and littered with poor lyrics, catchy choruses that don’t catch well enough and just generally banal bullshit. Yeah, I think that’s the adjective that I’ll use to describe this record. Banal.

Sirenia's Rack circa 2011

And ridiculously banal it is. And you know what it isn’t? It’s not heavy. I’m sorry to harp on this point, but early Tristania and Theatre of Tragedy was heavy. Sure it also had pretty vocals and so forth, but it was still fucking death metal. It still weirded your normal friends (I call them ‘normies’) out and your parents still hated it. The Enigma of Life? You have to wait seven fucking tracks (“A Seaside Serenade”) before you ever get any death metal vocals at all. And that heaviness is immediately offset by gaiety. And not like dudes gettin’ it on, but a super happy piano part and a chick singing very happily over it about how little hope is in her eyes or life or whatever. Gah. Gah. That’s not a nose bleed you’re seeing.. IT’S A BRAIN HEMORRHAGE!

And you know what else? This record has no energy to it. No life. There’s no excitement about these musicians, they sound just like Leaves’ Eyes or Epica and they don’t have an ounce of will to be playing this stuff. Or at least, that’s how it sounds to me. Go back and listen to Widow’s Weeds and tell me that there is anything even remotely as exciting or inspired going on here. Nope. Nothing at all. There are literally two songs on this entire album that I even like. “Fading Star” and “Coming Down” both are pretty good and are heavier than the rest of the record. They’ve got a bit of something to ‘em that everything else desperately lacks. But that’s it.

Banality, I guess, would sum up exactly how the musicians seem to feel about this music as well. This is a band that is going through the motions creating music that is hardly heavy or remotely interesting or even worth a second consideration. That this record made it onto the market (or will make it onto the market at all) is a shock. That this band is signed to one of the premier metal labels in the world must mean that when Sirenia began releasing music that they were doing something interesting (though, given some of the bands on major labels these days…). But in 2011? They suck. Or this record sucks. And I strongly encourage you to avoid it unless you like your music to be lacking in spirit, heaviness and inventiveness.

If you’re into that kind of shit, then by all means buy it.

Edit: In the spirit of an enterprising reviewer I went back after writing this rant and listened to At Sixes and Sevens and this record just sucks compared to it. So, even for fans my guess is that you’re probably not going to be super stoked about this record because it’s cookie-cutter crap. It’s about as interesting as watching flies fuck and about as innovative as making movies that are allegory of Jesus (yeah, that’s right the second two Matrix movies, YOU SUCK, TOO!). So, in a sense, I can say that I actually still am sad that I didn’t check out the band’s earlier material. However, I’m glad I didn’t have to suffer the disappointment that is The Enigma of Life.

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  • Steel Druhm

    Brilliant!! I laughed, I cried, I threw up in my mouth a little.

    • http://www.angrymetalguy.com Angry Metal Guy

      Ha, glad you liked it. I felt a little mean and really, those early records sound pretty solid.. but this? Not so much.

      BTW: if you mouse over the picture of the ‘band’ you’ll enjoy the ‘alt text.’ ;)

  • http://www.folkloreforlorn.com Marieke

    At Sixes and Sevens still is a magnificent album, but everything thereafter just went downhill.
    The Enigma of Life is just another example of a band hopping onto the generic, mainstream ‘female fronted metal’ band wagon.

    Such a shame, I used to love this band.

  • Ernesto

    Well said! I love Tristania’s first two albums, and I also loved Sirenia’s first two albums, that had nothing to do with the crap they’ve been doing since their 3rd. In the first two albums, Morten’s grunts were the main vocal feature and soft female voices were only used here and there. The choral arrangements were magnificent, whereas now they are used just per se in order to fill holes of ideas. Furthermoe, Mortemia (the other project by Morten) was supposed to recover the sound of early Sirenia, but it didn’t work either, it lacks of ideas. Also the lyrics are too damn repetitive….always the same phrases, always the same feelings, always the same description of faked darkness…

    It’s a pitty, Sirenia used to make good music…now they sound like a bad copy of themselves (curiously enough, they have since they joined Nuclear Blast)

  • Agah

    Sirenia’s rack circa 2004 was prettier.

  • Joël

    haha, you nailed it.
    Was a great fan of at sixes & sevens, Elixer for existance and even the Sirenian shores album which was all roughly the same style. The rest is, to say it nicely, not for me.

    Great review :P

  • Daniel J. “Defiance”

    An accurate review. I don’t really know how the heck did you manage to listen to the entire thing, considering that I almost died when watching the new video. And that was 5 minutes. Even if paid, I wouldn’t listen to the album. What a piece of shit, really.

  • Aristides

    I love the road they have been going and I cant wait till this comes out :D

  • NODReedemer

    So…I guess this album sucks…I’m really interested after what song things go downhill…Cause I’ve listened the first two tracks, and they kinda seem okay(from the single)…So when does the record begins to suck?

    • http://www.angrymetalguy.com Angry Metal Guy

      The whole record is downhill. If you dig it, you dig it. But man, I don’t get it.

  • http://www.lebmetal.com Rami Rouhana Lebmetal.com

    Hey !

    I have heard the album At “Sixes and Sevens” , it is good.

    Recent releases are far weaker I agree.

  • Diogo

    I find “The 13th Floor” the best album they made so far. But I agree that this “Enigma” is more like a riddle on what the hell were they thinking.

  • Northern Warrior

    IMHO this was a biased, grouchy and bad-tempered review. Some objectivity is necessary in a review which aims to be professional and of some quality, right? I don’t agree with the die-hard fans here. I think Sirenia’s album is very good indeed (and other critics agree), but their musical style has – with the last two albums – changed/evolved into Within Temptation-style Gothic/Symphonic Rock which turns away their Death Metal-wanting die-hard fans (but how can they be surprised after the last album?) while bringing in many new fans and listeners. Respect to Morten Veland for choosing his musical path (he has said in recent interviews that Sirenia’s sound is evolving) and for staying on it, despite the criticism he knew he would get from many of his die-hard fans.

    • http://www.angrymetalguy.com Angry Metal Guy

      All reviews are biased reviews by definition. A review is an opinion.

      And they evolved into a sound that is being done by everyone and is boring. I think my review is fair because that’s entirely the truth.

  • Steel Druhm

    You are grouchy and bad-tempered though…but based on the name of the site, should be expected.

    • http://www.angrymetalguy.com Angry Metal Guy

      Ha, it’s true!

  • Silent Raven

    Sirenia got screwed since Monika Pedersen joined them (for the recordings of Nine Destinies and a Downfall, they are still in the downfall…), then this spanish girl Aylin or however she’s called, she joined’em, and although her voice doesn’t make my ears bleed like Pedersen’s voice did, Aylin lacks passion when she sings, and music isn’t too helpful… The only decent song from Sirenia’s last album was The Seventh Summer, the rest were TOO BORING and for what I’ve heard so far from this record, this is the same case… Too sad, a genius like Morten lost in his tries to earn lots of money is losing the touch and the fans he gained with Tristania…

  • behemothzzz

    I have to agree with your review. At Sixes and Sevens and the two first Tristania albums are some of my favorite albums of all times, but what Sirenia is bringing out now has evolved far from that level.

    I agree with Northern Warrior that this review might be a bit too negative because their recent music doesn’t follow your own taste. In the end, his composing and the music itself is not bad. That being said, you do have a point when saying that a lot of the originality has disappeared. The grunts and choir parts have gradually been moved to the background and the music revolves more and more around the female front singer (which I have to admit, is quite good).

    I read an interview with Veland recently where he basically admits going more mainstream and ‘soft’ but who are we to judge? We can regret his decision but apparently he’s more succesful now. And it’s his good right to go on that path.

    In the same interview he also pointed out that he still needs to vent that somewhat more darker side and that’s why he started up a project called Mortemia. It’s different from the early Tristania or Sirenia work, but personally I like it a lot. You might want to give it a try if you haven’t already.

    • http://www.angrymetalguy.com Angry Metal Guy

      Yeah, but Mortemia wasn’t very good. And it certainly didn’t have the same kind of awesome that this project had early on.

      And reviews are all about taste, dude. I shit on this record because I thought this record was shit: because it’s not my thing. That’s the point.

  • behemothzzz

    I actually like Mortemia. It’s much better than the recent Sirenia albums at least. The only problem with the first album, Misere Mortem, is that it’s too much of the same. A bit more variation would make it a lot better.

  • Djomi

    Here’s one different opinion(you will probably stone me for it)but I pretty much like it; in fact it’s a great album the best so far!

  • Tim

    you know what they say, opinions are like assholes, everyone has one….I have to laugh at people that think so much of themselves as the end all be all of how to grade a bands new CD, tell me Metal guy, when exactly are you signing on to a record deal and when should we expect your new CD………………probably never!!!!

    • http://www.angrymetalguy.com Angry Metal Guy

      The “They’re famous and signed so they must be talented” argument is a big pile of shit. Some of the best bands in the world spend years and years fighting for recognition. Sirenia didn’t get signed on their own talent, but on the connection to the very popular Tristania and they were much, much better before.

      Also, if you don’t respect the opinion of reviewers, why are you traversing the net reading reviews?

  • http://heavy-metal-ftw.blogspot.com/ CanuckFan

    Yeah, don’t get me started on this band and it’s downfall in the last couple of releases. You are spot on with this one.

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