SIRENIA – Nine Destinies and A Downfall

“Symphonic goth metal” bands have always been hit or miss, and the plethora of new “beauty & the beast” style vocal bands are not helping to salvage the integrity of this subgenre. However, mastermind Morten Veland has managed to shove a bit more talent into a poppy sounding symphonic band than most would give him credit for. Best known as TRISTANIA‘s founder and male vocalist, Veland left them to found SIRENIA in 2000 and further develop his creative songwriting chops. The newest SIRENIA album, Nine Destinies and A Downfall, features a more simplistic approach to what used to be a grandiose formula of male growls, female operatics, choirs, keyboards, and other production snazziness. Instead, there is a greater emphasis on abundant female vocals, newcomer friendly guitar riffs, and occasional electronic beats. The result is somewhat of a mixed bag. Veland’s vision of gothic metal still seems inspired, but it’s tempered by a tendency to move away from heavier material. He seems to be following the same path as his former bandmates in TRISTANIA as he slowly moves down the road of mainstream appeal. The album’s first single, “My Mind’s Eye,” feels sugar-coated in female vocals and sounds like something that you might catch week nights on the late-night programming of your local mainstream rock station. This isn’t entirely a bad thing as the remainder of the album hints at greatness, but it definitely serves as a cautionary note to those looking for heavier material found in Veland’s early career. The songwriting is intelligent enough to likely keep the interest of older fans, although newcomers will likely brand this as a decline in SIRENIA‘s catalogue. Hopefully this is only a softer breath of fresh air in Veland’s otherwise outstanding musical direction. (Nuclear Blast Records)

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