The 13th Floor
23 January 2009
by Jerry Ewing
If you listen to Morten Veland, the brains and driving force behind this Norwegian symphonic metal gang, he’ll bang on at length about how unfair it is that Sirenia’s fourth album, The 13th Floor will be viewed by many as a work riding in on the coat tails of the likes of Nightwish, Within Temptation and Lacuna Coil. And that how he formed the similar Tristania (for whom he sang, played guitar and wrote most of the music and lyrics) at the same time as most of the aforementioned started, even if he was unceremoniously dumped from their ranks to breath life into Sirenia in 2001.
Does he have a point? Yes, to a certain extent. For whilst The 13th Floor easily slips under the genre titled Symphonic Metal, there’s a little extra dimension and texture to the new album. Of course it’s as pompous as a Boris Johnson speech, and sees nothing wrong in draping the more bombastic elements of black metal over a melodic framework, typified by ‘The Mind Maelstrom’ and ‘Led Astray’.
Elsewhere demonic choral arrangements pepper the likes of ‘Lost In Life’ and ‘Winterborn 77’, whilst the opening track and first single ‘The Path To Decay’ displays a resoundingly well-pitched ear for a pop melody that would do Evanescence proud.
Watch the video to The Path to Decay by Sirenia
So any drawbacks? Well, it’s the fourth album with the band’s fourth different female singer. Spanish-born Ailyn (a Spanish X Factor contestant no less) is now at the helm, replacing Monika Pedersen, who in turn replaced Henriette Bordvik, the replacement for original singer Fabienne Gondamin. Quite what that says about Veland’s ability to maintain a stable working environment remains to be seen. And it should perhaps be pointed out that the UK’s own Liquid Sky do this sort of thing with even more grit and determination. But in Ailyn Sirenia have a vocalist of poise and grace.
Sirenia – The 13th Floor tracklisting
The Path To Decay
Lost In Life
The Mind Maelstrom
The Seventh Summer
Beyond Life’s Scenery
The Lucid Door
Sirens Of The Seven Seas