CD Review: “Arcane Astral Aeons” by Sirenia

Sirenia gets right to business on its ninth effort, Arcane Astral Aeons, with the crushing “In Styx Embrace”. The driving guitar riffs and grooving percussion meld well with the orchestral elements. We are even treated to blast beats before transitions to an acoustic passage before concluding in bombastic fashion.

Album single “Into The Night” is a mid tempo rocker with a catchy chorus and some splendid keyboard work. Guitarist Morten Veland unleashes a blistering solo that concludes too soon. “Love Like Cyanide” is the initial single off Astral, with a pumping percussion underneath choppy, classically inspired guitar riffs. Vocalist Emmanuelle Zoldan sounds both powerful and vulnerable here, as she laments about toxic love. The track’s midsection is notable for its gothic chorus and tight groove.

“Desire” has a thick galloping riff that accentuates Zoldan’s sultry vocals. She even sings a passage in French over a playful melody before the song kicks back in to high gear with a stomping guitar riff and a black metal interlude.

“Asphyxia” commences with a dissonant guitar riff and a dark ambient electronic sample that segues in to a sludgy guitar riff. There is greater use of industrial and electronica samples on this song, making it an interesting listen.

“The Voyage” is aptly named as its rollicking guitars symbolize a vessel moving to and fro across a hostile sea. This is a dynamic, heavy track with a howling arabesque guitar lead that accentuates the adventurous tone on this track.

Arcane Astral Aeons is 55 minutes long, but there are few dull spots on this record. The album’s 11 tracks are diverse, yet cohesive. This is attributed to several elements of black metal and grooving rhythms appearing throughout the album. Thus, Astral is not monotonous, but there is an aura of similarity to each track. I have said numerous times that symphonic and progressive metal bands have to make extra strides to avoid pretentious and wayward songs. Well, Sirenia have avoided the trap with ease. Zoldan’s grandiose vocals are superb as usual and the guitar riffs are thick and pack a wallop.

Ultimately, Astral is a crushing record with a nice blend of orchestral and electronica samples. Fans will certainly enjoy it as the band’s signature sound is intact with a new black metal element that makes it heavier. Sirenia continue to reach the stars.

Check out the band’s official website for news and tour dates:

http://sirenia.no/

CD Review: “Dim Days Of Dolor” by Sirenia

Sirenia’s newest release, Dim Days Of Dolor, is a majestic journey of heavy twists and melodic turns. This record marks the debut of Emmanuelle Zoldan as lead female vocalist. Zoldan has sung back-up with Sirenia for 13 years, making her familiar with the band and its sound. Her mezzo-soprano vocals are a major highlight on this record as they soar but never overshadow the songs. The opening track “Goddess of the Sea” sways back and forth like a ship at sea with its lumbering riffs. Zoldan’s operatic vocals are powerful and match the crushing music accompanying her. The title track is a fusion of symphonic metal and electronica bordering on pop metal. It is a bit surprising that this track is not the album’s initial single due to its accessibility and commercial appeal. “The 12th Hour” is the initial single for Dim Days, which is interesting as it is the longest track on the record and one of the heaviest. There is a strong death metal vibe on this song due to band founder Morten Veland’s shrieking vocals. “Cloud Nine” is another hard hitter with its staccato riffs and hammering drums. The choir sample fits well on this track adding to its heaviness. Album closer “Aeon’s Embrace” is a sorrowful piano ballad with Zoldan’s melancholic vocals underscoring the sadness on this song.

Dim Days of Dolor is a varied album that showcases Morten Veland’s musical abilities. He successfully blends heavy metal, electronica and symphonic music to stunning effect. However, Zoldan’s vocals accentuate the emotions on each track, giving the music greater impact. The production is bombastic which is suitable for an album like Dim Days. The riffs, samples and of course the vocals are pushed to the forefront but the sound is clear and never choppy or noisy.

Fans of Sirenia and symphonic metal should purchase Dim Days of Dolor. It is an epic record with solid songs and incredible musicianship. The album’s 56 minute length is not tedious as there is little to no filler on this album. Zoldan’s vocals are superb throughout the record, and fit well on each track. There is nothing dim or sorrowful about this record and it is more than worth a listen.

For news and tour dates, check out the band’s website: http://www.mortenveland.com/sirenia/