Sirenia - The Enigma of Life
Nuclear Blast
Gothic Metal
12 songs (54:36)
Release year: 2011
Sirenia, Nuclear Blast
Reviewed by Goat

For someone who, if I understand right, quit Tristania because it was getting a bit poppy for his taste, Morten Veland is running a serious risk of hypocrisy with his replacement band. Sirenia has followed in its elder sister’s footsteps in several ways, but up until now I considered them the musical equal of Tristania – one listen to new album The Enigma Of Life, however, and that’s all over. A new vocalist and a real attempt at interesting songwriting made Tristania’s most recent album Rubicon a step forwards for the band, and I still have high hopes that they can develop their sound into something strong. However, it’s impossible to see this as anything but a poorer version of The 13th Floor, Sirenia’s modern-sounding yet surprisingly enjoyable 2009 album. That album’s flaws were easy to ignore, papered over by a talented singer and some very catchy tunes. Here, although Jennifer Garner-lookalike Ailyn proves herself a capable vocalist still, she is given no room to shine, buried beneath turgid, uninspired, repetitive songwriting. Once you’ve heard painfully average lead single The End Of It All and seen its music video (in which Ailyn makes the sort of exaggerated come-hither eyes that you usually get from very drunk women at uncomfortable office parties) you’ve experienced the best that The Enigma Of Life has to offer. And, let’s be honest, it’s not really that good.

Being stubborn, I’ve trawled through the entire fifty-minute-plus morass of mediocrity several times now in search of something redeemable, but there’s little of genuine mystery in this enigma. Dan Brown writes better mysteries, and he’s shit - by the time you’ve heard the third track, you can guess the path that the album will take as a whole. The guitars are uninteresting, the random growled vocals are going through the motions... even the orchestral flourishes sound samey, broken up with stock Industrial clanging that adds absolutely nothing to songs – All My Dreams, looking at you here. There are a few crumbs of goodness that will give comfort, such as the nice vocal melody that introduces The Twilight In Your Eyes, and an effective choral section in A Seaside Serenade. Being fair, Morten’s clean vocals in Darkened Days To Come are good, too, if the track as a whole is painfully standard.

I suppose as a whole the album is pleasant enough if you really enjoy the style, but for the first time in a while I found myself getting bored with Sirenia. You can definitely hear melodies that have been copied from other songs in their catalogue, surely the ultimate mark of failure for any band – what on earth happened to the Morten that made An Elixir For Existence, let alone At Sixes And Sevens? Are the likes of Coming Down the best that we’ll get from now on? And what on earth gave him the idea to pack the album with nearly an hour of this? By the time you get to the closing title track (if you even bother!) you’ll be bored and frustrated enough with the studied blandness everywhere that the fact it’s actually a rather good ballad will go unnoticed. The Enigma Of Life proves that Sirenia need an injection of new ideas rather desperately – rabid fans and mainstream daytrippers will eat it up, but those who have been listening to Gothic Metal for longer will need something more. The score given is generous – this is a real disappointment.

Killing Songs :
Hardly any, but The End Of It All and The Enigma Of Life are comparatively good.
Goat quoted 60 / 100
Other albums by Sirenia that we have reviewed:
Sirenia - Perils of the Deep Blue reviewed by Jared and quoted 94 / 100
Sirenia - The 13th Floor reviewed by Goat and quoted 84 / 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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