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Sirenia - Arcane Astral Aeons (2018) - Review

Band: Sirenia
Album title: Arcane Astral Aeons
Release date: 26 October 2018
Label: Napalm Records

01. In Styx Embrace
02. Into The Night
03. Love Like Cyanide
04. Desire
05. Asphyxia
06. Queen Of Lies
07. Nos Heures Sombres (Our Dark Hours)
08. The Voyage
09. Aerodyne
10. The Twilight Hour
11. Glowing Embers

"A wandered in time comes strolling through my mind...."

..... and thy name was ye olde Sirenia. Nostalgia is a powerful weapon, or so I've heard and it hit me more than I thought it would, when I came across the newest creation by one of gothic metal most prominent and my favourite masterminds, Morten Veland. At this point I would also like to give you my deepest apologies, for having the privilege to interview him over a year ago, but due to personal and health issues I was forced to step back from my writings and never got to the end of publishing it. Why I am saying this now is because I got to see in person just what a wonderful, warm and friendly person Morten really is and moreover, how he loves what he does. He really does love, live and breathe Sirenia with every inch of his body and soul. So no matter what I say and don't say as a long-time admirer of his music, what I really love about him is the passion for his work and how he believes in his art, because in the end it really is what matters the most.

And why nostalgia? Because honestly, when I was trying to put down the words to describe Arcane Astral Aeons, Sirenia's latest creation, I struggled. I struggled, because I just couldn't connect with it and found myself as I am drifting apart from something that was once very cherished by me. So what I did? What we all ought to do when we start to wonder why we love someone or something, when there is obviously no more passion present: remember how it all started. Remember how bedazzled and head over heels I fell in love with Tristania's Widows' Weeds and Beyond The Veil, how Sirenia's At Sixes And Sevens took my breath away... And just when I thought doing that will have me drift away from Arcane Astral Aeons, because the difference between the aforementioned albums and the "new kid on the block" is enormous, it actually brought me closer to it. I opened my eyes, ears and soul to it and peered into its depth, emotions and wide array of atmospheres, which I wasn't able to conquer at first.
The cathcy "Love Like Cyanide" really shines out by shining bright and strong as the Sun at first glimpse and it really somehow gives the impression it's merely a radio friendly tune; but it's actually much more, because when it crawls under your skin, Morten's growls, melodic, yet powerful guitar riffs and Emmanuelle's astonishing vocal gives you the shivers in how much intensity and obscure ambient this track really hides. Besides the always present dual vocal work, somehow signature guitar work, use of grandeur and blindsiding orchestrations and choir, Sirenia still masters to add the needed amount of true gothic atmosphere to its art, never becoming one of those generic female fronted metal bands – which at first I was afraid they have become.

The twisted and bewitched ambient is also very vividly present in the haunting and tenebrous "Asphyxia" and darkness and light are like yin and yang flowing all over "Queen Of Lies", which is also an stellar example of Emmanuelle Zoldan's remarkable vocal work. "Glowing Embers" and "Into The Night" shine out with its truly magnificent atmosphere and striking arrangements, so will be more to a liking to those who seek the majestic side of Sirenia's music, while "Desire" is another great song for those who seek more intensity, sombre atmosphere and unexpected turns and twists.

Under the line, as much as Arcane Astral Aeons may seem simplistic at first glimpse, it actually is one of Sirenia's most unexpected and diverse works. While the pieces of their sonic puzzle are very well known and, still to be frank, it won't blow your mind away completely, the albums has so many layers, which all flow from one to another as one beautiful, river of stygian ambiances and emotions. And to my liking, Veland still knows how to deliver some good old gothic metal tunes to the table.

Review written by: Ines
Rating: 8/10


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