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Sirenia - Dim Days Of Dolor (2016) - Review

Band: Sirenia
Album title: Dim Days Of Dolor
Release date: 11 November 2016
Label: Napalm Records

01. Goddess Of The Sea
02. Dim Days Of Dolor
03. The 12th Hour
04. Treasure n'Treason
05. Cloud Nine
06. Veil Of Winter
07. Ashes To Ashes
08. Elusive Sun
09. Playing With Fire
10. Fifth Column
11. Aeon's Embrace

So much drama in female-fronted metal world this year! First we had to deal with Liv Kristine being fired (leaving) Leaves' Eyes, then Ailyn leaving (being fired from) Sirenia. Of course, crazy speculations from the devoted fan base followed: will Liv Kristine join Sirenia now? Or is perhaps Vibeke Stene available and willing to cooperate again with Morten Veland? Who would it be and what will come of it? Well, the guessing is over and Sirenia, a more than well-known gothic metal installment from Norway announced the new, (already) fourth official singer is Emmanuelle Zoldan. She is though no stranger to Sirenia, as she had previously worked with Sirenia as a session choir vocalist and also stepped into Ailyn's shoes with Sirenia on stage, when Ailyn was forced to leave tour due to personal issues. What really happened is none of our concern at this point, because Morten Veland again felt a breeze of inspiration and so we are witnessing Sirenia's 9th full length album, dominated by the letter »D« in its title - Dim Days Of Dolor.

In a way Dim Days Of Dolor is actually quite similar to its predecessor, The Seventh Life Path, since it is based in its essence on the same fragments, but at the same time it is its exact opposite, because the overall ambient of soundscapes creates quite a strong contrast to it. It is no lie – this album has Morten Veland written all over it: full of fluid melodies, containing typical groovy and smooth guitar riffs, epic and pompous choirs, grandiose orchestrations, emotional piano insertions, enchanting use of keyboards, beautiful lead female voice, which is momentarily contrasted by Morten's growls or clean vocals by Joakim Naess and mad, avantgardish intermezzos, that hide beneath the songs and give each composition a special feel. Momentarily I daresay the album even loses its gothic metal touch and flows heavily in the vein of prog-influenced symphonic metal, something that reminds of early After Forever even. The opening "Goddess Of The Sea" opens up the album in a true gothic metal manner – it is carried by a powerful melody, punching guitar riffs, determined choirs and strong vocal performance by Emmanuelle, but the following, eponymous track delivers an enormous twist and presents itself with a groovy, almost danceable tune, designed and composed so the main melody sticks in your mind whether you like it or not. Moreover, the rest of the album then shifts between many variations of Sirenia’s trademark sound. "Veil Of Winter" and "Elusive Sun" offer a very nice and nostalgic trip down the memory lane to the early Sirenia sound, while "Cloud Nine" sounds like a dark and mad lullaby. The story-telling ends with a profound and serene "Aeon's Embrace", a song which shines in its minimalistic, as its aestheticism is carried only by a gentle piano tune and Emmanuelle's gentle voice. Thus the story wraps itself and Dim Days Of Dolor end in a very peaceful manner, opposed to the bombastic opening.
I must take a minute to properly devote myself to Emmanuelle as well, being a new voice (and face) of Sirenia and since the very first listen of Dim Days Of Dolor, she had me. Not only she has an astonishing and very unique voice colour to begin with, her vocal techniques are simply flawless. She sounds crisp and sharp in every minute, every second of the album and her passages between her rock voice and operatic vocals are simply astonishing. The clean and harsh male vocals are heavily minimized on this album and there is no harm to it, since Emmanuelle is effortlessly carrying the emotional charge of each and every songs, as she is able to rage like a fury, seduce as a siren or melt your heart as a grieving goddess. Her interactions with he choir give the album a special value and are probably one of the albums strongest points.
If you were hoping Sirenia will bring something new and edgy, then Dim Days Of Dolor is an album you can easily skip. It offers nothing particularly new and you may even find a couple of songs are unnecessary fillers. What I truly miss in this album is perhaps a grandeur, outstanding composition that would shine over all others, such as "Sons Of The North" on The Seventh Life Path or "Sirens Of The Seven Seas" on The 13th Floor or a pinch of truly abysmal obscurity and profound, wounded emotions, such as painted in the atmosphere of At Sixes And Sevens. But if you have come to like its characteristic sound and maybe prefer a bit more catchy side of Sirenia, such as already presented on Nine Destinies And A Downfall, Dim Days Of Dolor will be a nice addition to your collection. The album offers nothing special or particularly outstanding, but it is still more than nice to hear every Sirenia release, even though it seems the band simply sticks to the saying “Why fix it, if it ain’t broken?”.

Review written by: Ines
Rating: 7,5/10


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