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An Elixir for Existance is Sirenia's follow up to their extremely impressive debut At Sixes and Sevens. Veland's brainchild set out to carve it's own path away from his previous gig, Tristania, which has so far been a success. Despite sharing the same genre, Sirenia offers a faster, heavier variety with less progressive elements and more in-your-face type metal. Ironically, or perhaps not, Elixir still manages to carry the familiar feel found in At Sixes and Sevens; that is, the lonely, depressive, and melancholic mood.
For fans familiar with the Sirenia sound, as well as the typical goth-rock sound, this album might take getting used to. The reason behind this is Elixir has a far rougher feel to it than other Sirenia albums, and it stems directly from the rough and heavily distorted guitars combined with the extensive use of growling by Morten Veland. While this may turn away some listeners, I can't say the statement “It grows on you.” applies any more than on this album. Give this a couple spins before pitching it, if it proves to be that big of a problem!
Okay, so Elixir starts off with and carries the typical Sirenia introduction of blowing you away with some crushing riffs and growling, composed in a way that's both headbangable and catchy. Lithium and a Lover showcases more of a progressive feel than other songs. This song is notorious for assuming a mellow tune backed by the typical choirs between each verse, which leaves the listener a little annoyed since the verses kick so much ass. Luckily, this isn't a consistency throughout the album! Other songs such as Voices Within, A Mental Symphony, In My Darkest Hours, and Euphoria feature similar verses and choruses of awesomeness as the opener without the more mellow bits.
Unlike Elixir's predecessor and successors, female vocals are quite rare on this album. Many songs only feature a line or two from Henriette, who sings a much lower and sombre key than any other Sirenia vocalist. The sole exception is Save Me From Myself, which is sung almost entirely by Henriette. Not surprisingly, it's also the calmest of tracks on Elixir. Normally her soft spoken voice sounds so out of place amongst Veland's growls and crushing guitars; something that would hinder the album, but, for some reason, actually works out quite well.
Did I mention the choirs? Because, despite the sheer annoyance some folks find with them, they're done nearly flawlessly in Elixir (And all Sirenia albums). They typically won't make their appearance until the bridges between verses, or sometimes during the chorus itself. They don't overstay their welcome, nor are they overly obtrusive; instead, they add that much more depth to each song. Great example of said choirs can be found on Lithium and a Lover, as well as Star Crossed.
Elixir is a worthy collection for anybody who's a fan of gothic metal. It's also the Sirenia album you're most likely to headbang to! Stand out songs include Star Crossed (A worthy candidate for the best Sirenia song composed), A Mental Symphony, and Euphoria; however, all tracks here offer something exceptional and good, even Seven Sirens and a Silver Tear, the closing piano piece. Veland once again proves his musical prowess in this album; a fact that won't entirely hold up during his next Sirenia release.