Sirenia - The 13th Floor
Nuclear Blast
Gothic Metal
9 songs (42:33)
Release year: 2009
Sirenia, Nuclear Blast
Reviewed by Goat

Blame me as much as you like for my lack of foresight, but I certainly never expected to hear that Morten Veland had replaced Nine Destinies And A Downfall’s Monika Pedersen with a contestant from the Spanish version of that most execrable of television shows, The X-Factor. How much lower could Gothic Metal go, I wondered, scraping the barrel to such a low degree that they now get failed pop stars to spearhead their assaults on the mainstream? What next? Will we see Frankee rapping on the next Tristania release, or Las Ketchup guesting on Lacuna Coil’s new album?

Sirenia being Sirenia, I should have known better. Although new frontwoman Ailyn does look like a cross between Jennifer Garner at her Alias peak and Within Temptation’s Sharon Del Adel, and although the camera in the video for first single The Path To Decay is all over Ailyn like she’s Madonna or someone, the fact remains that The 13th Floor is a damn good album. From the moment the choirs pop up in aforementioned single (the opening track on the album) you know that you’re listening to something special, and from then on the album’s pretty hard to criticise. From Lost In Life’s stellar guitar work and catchy hooks all the way through to the end, where guest vocalist Jan Kenneth Barkved (of Elusive) takes the reins on Siren Of The Seven Seas, The 13th Floor proves itself a move back in the right direction after Nine Destinies… strayed just a little from the Goth Metal path, entranced by the bright lights of the commercial world.

Fine, there are no ten minute epics here, the songs all in the four to five minute range, but the likes of The Mind Maelstrom make such good usage of the band’s orchestral elements that it’s impossible not to fall in love. The bombast of The Seventh Summer, featuring lots of vocals from Morten, will likely catch your ear, as will the various catchy elements that go into Beyond Life’s Scenery (choirs! growls! kickass riffing!). Highlight comes upon highlight, Morten’s songwriting skills as sharp as ever, and just as you’ve finished marvelling at The Lucid Door’s downright Doomy moments mixed in amidst the grandiose Gothicity, you’ll be stunned into silence at Led Astray’s excellent Classical section.

And speaking of falling in love, Ailyn’s voice is far from the disaster I was fearing – her range might be slightly less than Ms Pedersen’s, but her mid-toned singing works wonderfully, especially with the uplifting wails she puts in here and there. Her voice anything but childish, and she has just a hint of an exotic accent which works much better than Pedersen’s faux-Aihmericaihn nonsense. It’s closer to Christina Scabbia’s gorgeous voice, and yes, that is a good thing.

There’s no denying the fact that The 13th Floor is poppy to a certain degree, but it’s comforting to see how less commercial it is than its predecessor. The songs are notably different in structure, there’s more growling, more riffs, more and better-used symphonic elements… it’s a quality album in practically every way. No, it’s not superior to Sirenia’s first two albums, but it is a huge step forwards from Nine Destinies… and represents the direction that Morten should have been taking the project in all along. Namely, poppy enough to make it accessible and easy to listen to, but with a notable complexity in writing and in the actual musical elements. If you’re one of those people that departed from Sirenia’s fanbase in disgust last time around, then you’d do well to give The 13th Floor a listen, as you might be pleasantly surprised. Those willing to admit liking the last album will love this even more, guaranteed, and if you recognised those obscure Pop references up in the first paragraph, then you’ll have no problems enjoying The 13th Floor.

Killing Songs :
The Path To Decay, The Mind Maelstrom, The Seventh Summer, The Lucid Door, Led Astray, Siren Of The Seven Seas
Goat quoted 84 / 100
Other albums by Sirenia that we have reviewed:
Sirenia - Perils of the Deep Blue reviewed by Jared and quoted 94 / 100
Sirenia - The Enigma of Life reviewed by Goat and quoted 60 / 100
Sirenia - Nine Destinies And A Downfall reviewed by Goat and quoted 78 / 100
Sirenia - Sirenian Shores reviewed by Jack and quoted no quote
Sirenia - An Elixir For Existence reviewed by Jack and quoted 90 / 100
To see all 7 reviews click here
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