Published on Friday, 01 May 2015 16:57
Album title: The Seventh Life Path
Release date: 8 May 2015
Label: Napalm Records
03. Once My Light
05. Sons Of The North
07. Concealed Disdain
09. Contemptuous Quitus
10. The Silver Eye
Fourteen years. Fourteen years have already passed, since Morten Veland departured from one of the most prominent and praised gothic metal acts of its time, Tristania, and decided to further develop and portray his talent and visions in Sirenia. If you are like me and have followed them since the beginning to the point where we are now, then this is definitely one of these moments when we realize how quickly time passes by, wouldn't you agree? What has happened in these fourteen years? An amazing debut At Sixes And Sevens, its noteworthy successor And An Elixir For Existence and a few albums, which divide the band's fan base: some more loved, other less, but all bearing the typical Sirenia characteristics. A few line-up changes happened in the course of the years as well, but since 2011 the band has been a steady quintet and I'm guessing the stability and energy between the band members has to do something with the fact that since 2011's The Enigma Of Life, which I consider to be the lowest point of Sirenia's repertoire, the band has again turned the page and decided, reaching a low point is something they should accept and – ascend. The recruit of Ailyn, who joined the band in 2008 as a lead female singer obviously was more than a good idea, because she is the longest running of all female vocalists who ever stood in front of the microphone of the band and has shared notable seven years with them. Speaking of sevens, whether it is a coincidence or not (and I do not believe in coincidences), that The Seventh Life Path is the band's seventh full length album and the sevens continuously appear in Veland's tracks – "Seven Sirens And A Silver Tear" (An Elixir For Existence), "Seven Keys And Nine Doors" (Nine Destinies And A Downfall), "The Seventh Summer" and "Sirens Of The Seven Seas" (both on The 13th Floor) and "Seven Widows Weep" (Perils Of The Deep Blue) - to go through them all, I am not sure. But it is a number of mystery and magic, a number which finds its place in fairy tales and legends as well as mythology and religion and the seventh Sirenia album is, believe it or not, just as mysterious and spellbound as the number.
Whilst the typical melodic, rhythmic and groovy guitar riffing, beautifully combined and enhanced by the use of choirs, powerful orchestrations, delightful piano melodies and stunning Ailyn's clean vocals, counterpoised by Morten's profound growls, still build the core of The Seventh Life Path, its beauty lies in incorporating various elements of different metal styles and thus its explorative, even a bit experimental and pompous nature. The opening intro track "Seti" is a nice ambient setter, which takes you on the darkest path and the frightening and threatening choirs let you know you are in for something big: something incredibly obscure, flamboyant and majestic. The compositions on The Seventh Life Path are yet again very dense and rich, as they ooze strange, strained, sharp, intense, wretched and venomous atmosphere and you get just that with the following "Serpent", a highly tenebrous and ghastly song, which emits a deranged and vile ambiance, a bit similar of what we already heard in Tristania's "Opus Relinque" or "Heretique" from their 1999 album Beyond The Veil. Not only musically, but a great part in building that sensations are Ailyn's graceful vocals and again she has proved she keeps evolving: she lightly shifts from sounding like insane witch, beautiful enchantress, raging fury or a fragile siren so effortlessly and with Morten's opposing growls they are creating the typical beauty and the beast play of vocals. Not only by using the two typical vocal techniques, which contradict each other, but because they are interacting as they are telling us a story and thus add a special, very dramatic and almost theatrical effect, which intensifies the sound to the maximum.
Similarly, the grandiose epicenes is probably most notable in a more than eight minute lasting epopee "Sons Of The North", an incredible track, that pushes the sound of Sirenia even further by incorporating avant-garde metal features – when you come half-way along the song a mad intermezzo, with incredibly haunting atmosphere breaks the song’s dynamics and descends into a massive, twisted sensation and so it even heightens the sombre and asphyxiating ambient. "The Silver Eye" brings yet another surprise with its almost fast-paced and abrupt beginning, which really shows Sirenia peered themselves into far more aggressive realms, we were used to. On the other hand, The Seventh Life Path also offers some catchy and melodic tunes, for example in "Elixir", a song, which somehow flows in the vein of currently popular trancecore a wee bit and last but not least, delivers some very classical sirenian tunes, for instance in a ravishing and elegiac ballad "Tragedienne" or a classical gothic/symphonic tune, filled with typical Veland-ish guitars and powerful choirs in a bittersweet "Once My Light" and "Concealed Disdain".
To be honest, I was a bit reserved with this album, simply because I had no idea what to expect, but I can honestly say this is not only an album for the devoted Sirenia fan base, but also for anyone looking a wonderful combination of prime gothic metal and symphonic metal grandeur. The Seventh Life Path was far more than I expected it to be, simply because it depicts a step further in Sirenia's sound and I had never even imagined they would go for exploring and expanding their well-established sound by going into more tense and intense waters, into even more complex and enhanced compositions and stygian atmosphere. With this release Veland has completely mastered his ability to perfectly equilibrate all those various elements and portray them into a whole different, so much more vigorous, ferocious and emotional manner; poured his entire soul into this work of art and perfected the interpretation of musical compositions and song-writing. The divine and darkened harmonies on this album result in an esoteric, edgy, mesmerizing and hellacious album, which at the same time offers a tremendous emotional burdened and at the same time story-telling aestheticism.
Review written by: Ines