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.