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Following Sirenia's majestic debut At Sixes and Sevens, An Elixir For Existence is perhaps the most logical second album that Sirenia could have produced. This album takes everything right in the gothic metal genre e.g soothing female vocals, harsh vocals that always command you to pay absolute attention, bombastic choirs and compiles them here. While providing very enjoyable music on its on this is simply more than an album.
An Elixir for Existence takes you on a journey through the darkest and most melancholy parts of the human mind and spirit, brightening your outlook on life. An Elixir for Existence definitely is not for everyone but this type of music rewards fans of the genre and those who are persistent. The price of this album is more than just a price tag or a download, it demands emotional investment.
Musically An Elixir for Existence can easily be described as a "typical" successor to At Sixes and Sevens or Tristania's Beyond the Veil, while mostly true, comparing it to those archetypes is simply not adequate as the atmosphere feels completely different and stands alone. A few songs deal with relatable themes that differ a lot than its predecessors such as drug abuse and suicide which allow you to have deep empathy with Morten Veland. The music also differs too due to the replacement of former female vocalist Fabienne Gondamin with new comer Henriette Bordvik who is just as great but different enough to stand out!
For those who have never heard At Sixes and Sevens or Beyond the Veil, this album can be described as a gothic metal album that could easily be at near incomprehensible levels due to the insane amount of things going on just during one song, however it never crosses the line of lunacy and maintains its perfect balance. There are clean female vocals, harsh and scathing vocals, Latin choirs and clean male vocals. Those vocal styles by themselves provide the listener with enough to absorb barring the distorted guitars, drums, violin and synthesizers!
This has to be one of the heaviest and anti stereotypical gothic metal albums I have heard and for those who think this will is just pop music with guitar due to the stigma the genre has are definitely in for an extreme shock when they hear the harsh vocals dominate almost all the tracks! All the other vocal styles are generously sprinkled out providing deep contrast and enjoyment when needed.
There are some minor flaws that can be waived over time. This is not for casual fans who may listen to this once in a blue moon. Truly this has to be is one of the hardest albums I have ever tried to get myself into and demands you listen to it many times over before you fully appreciate it. It is an enjoyable album first listen nothing more, I highly doubt you will fully appreciate it until at least the sixth listen and that's if you're fast and lucky. The fact that the lyrics use some quite advance vocabulary at times is just another hurdle you have to jump.
Once the prerequisites are fulfilled An Elixir for Existence is one of a couple epitomes of gothic metal and one that personifies all that is excellent in metal music, providing very enjoyable music with the combination of legitimate strong emotional content. Whoever think this is a poor man's equivalent of At Sixes and Sevens need to listen to this much more as the journey is just as good. Those who have the fortitude and perseverance to listen to An Elixir for Existence a few times to finally hear down the line the way the music was intended to be will be rewarded with not just excellent music but also a blissful experience that albums I can count on one hand can only provide.