SIRENIA were one of my gateway bands into Symphonic Metal all those years ago and their latest release Riddles, Ruins & Revelations is further proof that they continue to thrive. A Symphonic Metal Institution was used to describe them and judging from the sounds of this album, I fully agree.
The album kicks off with Addiction No.1. It’s not your usual SIRENIA track and that’s OK, I personally really liked the eighties sounds within the track. It also gives you the first taste of what’s to come on the record. When I first hear this, I wondered if it was going to take us down a different road that their previous release Arcane Astral Aeons took us down. It does and again, this is a great thing.
This change in musical direction is noticeable compared with their previous release but you can still hear the heart of SIRENIA in there. Within this record, the band do well to combine electronic atmospheres with symphonic sounds. Below are just a few examples of what I mean.
AMARANTHE and BEYOND THE BLACK come to mind when I heard the opening to Into Infinity. One of the notable things about SIRENIA’s iconic sound is the versatility of Emmanuelle Zoldan’s impeccable vocal range and it really shines through here. The song has a great melody that will be swimming around your head for days or weeks on end after hearing it.
Downwards Spiral is more typical of SIRENIA sound wise with a modern twist. The duet between Emmanuelle and Joakim Næss grabs you instantly as their voices work so well together. You can feel the emotion and intensity through their vocal work as they sing lyrics such as “deterioration of the mind, this is the endless downwards spiral”.
Lyrically and musically, I interpret This Curse Is Mine to be about overcoming any obstacles that come your way with head held high whilst carrying on with that inner battle. The sweeping music arrangements are similar to what you would hear in that battle scene going on in the film as it projects lyrics such “I’ve faced all my demons alone” and “The burden of time weighs heavy on your mind”.
The Timeless Warning is an intriguing track, I never thought I would hear monk type chants with an eighties style beat until I heard this. This song is another example of SIRENIA trying a new direction with their sound whilst keeping to their musical core.
The album closes with a cover of DESIRELESS hit Voyage Voyage. The original song was released back in 1986. After listening to both versions of this song back-to-back, it’s more than fair to say SIRENIA do a great job with this cover. They make it sound like their own which is a solid sign of a brilliant cover.
When taking your sound in a different direction, it can either backfire or work wonders. In my opinion, SIRENIA pull this off and never lose sight of their core sound that has secured them fans over the years. From long-time fans to those just coming across SIRENIA, Riddles, Ruins & Revelations is a great album that will draw in a variety of listeners.
Words: Lotty Whittingham
Riddles, Ruins & Revelations is out now.
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