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Much fuss has been made over Pedersen's safe and poppy delivery, but is she really the biggest problem here? An Elixir for Existence featured the similarly-meek sounding Henriette Bordvik and still managed to embody a more than passable followup to At Sixes and Sevens. No, the biggest problem here on Nine Destinies and a Downfall is deep-rooted and is centered around uninteresting songwriting and bland arrangements. Pedersen is just an easy scapegoat.
Even at that, it certainly doesn't help that Veland feels the need to craft many of these tunes around Pedersen exclusively, with the rhythm section dropping out entirely far more often than it should. This approach can't help but amplify the one major problem with the female vocals, which is undoubtedly the lyrics. These lyrics are just downright embarrassing. What happened to the despondent atmosphere with the gall to tackle controversial psychological themes like on An Elixir for Existence? Instead we get Pedersen whispering sweet nothings into our ears. Don't believe that Veland would pull out such a tried and true cliché of a phrase? Listen to the abhorrent stab at a pop hit in "My Mind's Eye", which other than a somewhat-soaring chorus, falls flatter and faster than a ton of bricks.
At it's best, Nine Destinies and a Downfall embodies some sort of clinical fusion of the disparate approaches present on Sirenia's first two albums, all glossed over with a not-so-subtle attempt at selling out. Opener "The Last Call" is relatively strong overall, but it disappoints me more than anything, since it picks up quite nicely during the final minute. The keyboards get a decent triumphant subtext going, and the always welcome operatic choirs only serve to add sugar on top of the already divine smattering present. Regardless, only one minute of quality material on the opener (which should always be a barnburner as per this album's mainstream sensibilities) doesn't cut it.
Other than that, it's pretty piecemeal, with individual moments of brilliance surfacing at arbitrary moments through no conscious effort on Sirenia's part, only to be pulled under again when Pedersen takes over. "One by One" revolves around an extremely potent melody, but it overstays it's welcome and sputters out well before it's conclusion. "Sundown" deceives mightily, with it's initial driving riff dropping out yet again during the verses, yielding to more of the same regarding the female vocals. "The Other Side" has an absolutely divine chorus, and if Veland gets it right anywhere here it is most certainly on this song. It's concise, to the point, and recycles the chorus as many times as it can within it's sub-four minute running time. Unabashedly stock by Sirenia standards, but it works. Veland's parched roars make very fleeting appearances, mainly during the passable throwback in "Seven Keys and Nine Doors". I never thought of his vocals as a major highlight on the earlier material, but his absence here is actually quite damaging.
At least Nine Destinies and a Downfall's production isn't off the mark, embodying a balanced synthesis of crunchy riffs, ethereal keyboards, and the dense choirs. Veland's riffs tend to drift a bit too far into the background during the choruses, but the tone has a decent amount of weight to it. His six-string cohort Landa is apparently present on this album as well, but whatever little input he had is hard to discern through the performances. I find myself screaming for more keyboards, as the normally ample electronic undercurrents aren't very present here, only exasperated by the lack of memorable riffs or searing vocal melodies.
Nine Destinies and a Downfall is admittedly something of a mess, but it isn't an all-out disaster. It finds itself causing undue stylistic friction by playing up it's weaker points and disregarding much of the eclectic nature that helped define early Sirenia. Just don't place the blame on Pedersen's shoulders entirely, as Veland has a lot of explaining to do after this one.
Sirenia, among many other bands, has fallen under the commercial virus. Like Lacuna Coil, Elis and many others, they're trying to become the next Evanescence. Evanescence aren't exactly bad ("The Open Door" is quite a decent release), but their clones always tend to disappoint. Sirenia is no exception. "Nine Destinies & a Downfall" isn't a very bad album, but it's just not up to the same standard as "At Sixes and Sevens" and "An Elixir for Existence".
To keep some things the same, Morten decided to keep the choirs and occasional clean male vocals. The choirs are quite good, but only sound fitting in two tracks ("Seven Keys and Nine Door" and "Downfall"). The clean male vocalist is also very good. However, he appears too infrequently. If he and the choirs had more lines than Monika, my rating would've been much higher.
Speaking of Monika, she's probably the worst vocalist in metal at the moment. She might be decent to sing nursery rhymes, but for God's sake don't let her lead an entire album. Her voice sounds way too childish, making the album sound like a joke. Henriette and Fabienne were a hundred times better than she is. To make things worse, Morten's growls are very limited here. He's only present on "Sundown", "Seven Keys and Nine Doors" and "Downfall", which makes them obvious highlights.
The music on "Nine Destinies & a Downfall" is as disappointing as the vocals are. The guitars are over-simplified, and keyboards and drums are too far back in the mix. It's very similar to Lacuna Coil's "Karmacode" (no, that's a good thing). Overall, it's just too radio-friendly. They are no heavy riffs like on "An Elixir for Existence" or atmospheric keyboards like on the debut. Also, the songs are structured in the same boring verse-chorus-verse-chorus-bridge-chorus that bands like Within Temptation or Lacuna Coil still believe in.
However, to give it a little credit, it's still a fun listen. I really enjoyed five of the nine songs present on the album (although I hate the rest). These are "The Last Call", "Sundown", "Absent Without Leave", "Seven Keys and Nine Doors" and "Downfall". The other four tracks are very bland and boring (especially the disastrous single "My Mind's Eye").
In conclusion, "Nine Destinies & A Downfall" is a good album, just not a good Sirenia album. I wouldn't recommend it to Sirenia or Tristania fans, because you'll be greatly disappointed (but make sure to pick up a copy of Tristania's latest album "Illumination"). However, if you like Lacuna Coil (or any other radio-friendly metal band, for that matter), this album is right up your alley.
Honestly, who would think this sounds like pop? Well one thing, at least it sounds better than that fucker Justin Bieber or a pregnant Taylor Swift in the hospital. No, this sounded like gothic metal to me, not the pop shit you hear on the radios 24/7. But before I get too much into talking about pop, I'll say that unlike most gothic metal bands, they brought in some instrumental domination in here with a vocalist who typically soars over the top of everyone else, and well, that's what you got here, just that. But let us go in deeper to this, shall we.
As far as instrumental wise, they are well above average to most of the entirely legendary gothic metal bands, while the vocals were really nothing out of the ordinary, they still were probably one of the best parts. Guitars were actually heavier than they are in most gothic metal bands, which is actually one of the pros here, after all this is gothic METAL as some bands don't realize. They sounded as if they were at least one step down, and if not, I'm totally impressed. They definitely sound better and heavier than those fuckers in Nickelback could play in their dreams. As far as bass goes, while the bass lines weren't exactly that audible, I know what it sounds like with no bass, and it doesn't have that sound here so it is totally clear they used a bassist, but the only thing that annoys me is that is seems like every gothic metal band has to have their bassist just play the exact same shit as the guitarists are playing, I'm not asking for a bass solo, I'm asking for a band to have the bassist play something different from the guitarists. Drums were nothing special but definitely didn't suck. As far as vocals go, I wont complain they never used Morten's voice practically at all except in one or two songs, it didn't bother me that much and it's not like Monika doesn't do a good job covering that up. Because first, she doesn't use some stupid shit like auto-tune to sound good like that stupid fuck Justin Bieber, second, doesn't sound like Miley Cyrus taking shit and actually sounds like a real gothic metal vocalist. Third, has a good voice. And fourth, she actually has the pussy to use it. The overall sound is gothic metal, like it should sound like, a high-pitched female vocalist, quieter but heavy guitar parts, some keyboards, and a drummer who sits behind everyone else.
Now for me, out of the obvious, My Minds Eye and The Other Side were the best tracks here, but The Last Call, Absent Without Leave, Seven Keys and Nine Doors, and Sundown were also very good. And since there were six good songs with nine total, I was kept satisfied for pretty much the whole album and is one of those albums when you can listen to the entire thing without having the urge to skip a track or be dying for it to end. It's also one of those albums were you have to dig and search for a good song.
The only real reason why this doesn't go past 90 is because is because of the typical bassist echoing the guitarist and for nothing special vocals. Though the good parts were that, first, they brought some new stuff to the table, second, had a change in musical style, and third, uses a girl who actually can sing without auto-tune unlike some people we know.
Overall, this is definitely worth a buy or download or iTunes download or whatever, any gothic metal fan should just just get their hands on it somehow because even if you aren't a big Sirenia fan, you're missing out on quite a bit here despite the couple of faults it has.
Sirenia's first two full lengths At Sixes and Sevens and An Elixir For Existence are the absolute epitomes of the gothic metal genre. It is rather unfortunate that Nine Destinies and a Downfall doesn't come close to matching the pure stroke of genius that the first two full lengths did but comparisons aside it is an album that has several good ideas but ultimately falls.
Nine Destinies and a Downfall has a sound much different than other previously comparable bands in the genre e.g Tristania and Trail of Tears. Sirenia have decided to go for a much more straight forward symphonic metal with gothic undertones, with song structures perhaps most comparable to the shorter length tracks of Once era Nightwish. The major factors that have attributed to that are less subtle use of guitar, female and choir vocal parts, being dead front and center here, the drastic reduction of Morten Veland's mostly great growling and crisp production values for all areas. Not much to be said about the drum work of Jonathan A Perez, his work is just fine here.
There are no components of Monika Pedersen's vocals that are slightly operatic as being part of the symphonic metal genre would make you assume. She still gives quite a strong performance with a powerful female voice most akin to Floor Jansen or Simone Simons non operatic voices. For most of the album her voice works out quite well except there are some devastating mishaps along the way e.g My Mind's Eye chorus. The choirs are flawless as usual when it comes to Sirenia's work and Morten even provides more contrast using a very good gothic feeling clean voice on a couple of tracks. Songs to measure the amount of good ideas and contrast level at its capacity would definitely be Downfall and/or Sundown.
Nine Destinies and a Downfall simply doesn't live up to the sum of its parts due to it's painfully predictable song structures that run like clockwork. All songs apart from Glades of Summer being a ballad follow very similar formulas and it will become obvious over several listens. Each song has it's intro then verse, chorus, a majority of the songs having another part similar to the intro, verse, chorus, surprising part that if the whole album was like then it would be great and finally closing chorus.
The pace of the album is entirely uneven. Each verse is very melodic and the songs pick up pace during the chorus only to halt then slow back down during the next verse, you will grow tiresome of it after repeated listens. The lyrics upon inspection are really quite dark but Pedersen's voice is much too cheerful here for you to interpret them that way. Veland is really uncreative with the lyrics at times using several combination of words way too many times e.g I've been.
Being my first Sirenia album it was quite enjoyable during my initial discovery of it but the enthusiasm to listen to it over and over fades quite rapidly. It doesn't really fit well in the context of music with lots of replay value but I can see it being quite a competent gateway album into the symphonic/gothic metal genres. There are actually many good ideas here except none are expanded upon very much. It has much more commercialism and straight forward soundings than previous Sirenia full lengths but it's still way too heavy for it to be on mainstream radio stations.
As a standalone album release it has its good and its bad ideas, however the real problem is that there is nothing here that resembles a solid foundry or a reason that will make you want to listen to Nine Destinies and a Downfall again and again after a few initial listens.
The album is quite listenable, providing you avoid the two really popular tracks which have videos. All the elements of good gothic metal are there: hard guitar, clean parts, depressing lyrics, choirs, there are even some growl parts, some clean male vocals and a few violin lines (apparently played from keyboards). But...
...the production sucks. First of all, the tracks are compressed to hell, so instead of stressing the epicness coming from the juxtaposition of the hard parts to the atmospheric parts, it just sounds like crappy pop coming from the radio. Another annoying thing they did was doubletrack Monika's voice and add effects. It's o.k. when they did it subtly, or when they made it sound a little like Enya, but a lot of the time they just made it sound very poppy. I don't know why they did this, Monika has a beautiful voice and there was no reason to ruin the vocals. In pop music, the vocalists are often very bad, so there it is a necessity, but here it's pointless. The sad thing is that the instruments in the song "The Other Side" are o.k., so are the lyrics (yes, I did manage to listen to the whole song once or twice, although it wasn't very pleasant), but the production makes it unlistenable. Especially annoying is the bonus track, which is a radio edit of "My Mind's Eye". It starts out promising with an electronic beat with some vocal sample and nice atmospheric piano, so being a darkwave fan I get my hopes high, then the vocals kick in and the song gets more and more unbearable. This gets annoying in some other songs as well, such as towards the end of the first song, but it hasn't gotten so annoying yet that I can't listen to those songs in their entirety.
One of the best songs is "Sundown". It starts out with a thrashy guitar part, then goes into an atmospheric part with female vocals, then it gets hard again and there's a growling part, even some double-bass drumming, then it repeats the earlier parts, with some different lyrics in the second atmospheric part and some choirs and a guitar solo in the third. It sounds just like the older Sirenia songs, and Monika's voice fits the song perfectly. The only thing I don't like is that I wish the double-bass part was longer, but you can't have everything, I guess.
The other song worth mentioning is "Glades of Summer". That song, despite its production shortcomings, is one of the most beautiful gothic ballads ever.
I suppose they could have made a classic gothic album if they had wanted to, but they would have needed different production ideas.
Sirenia -- Morten Veland, likely the strongest contender for the title of "Greatest Gothic Metal Composer of All-Time", abandons Tristania to form a project of his own. Sirenia he calls it. Fans everywhere grow apprehensive as they await the new album, ready to hear what this ingenious composer could do with out the chains. Unfortunately, it turns out the new albums sounded just like the old ones, with Tristania. Only, with burn-out ideas, little inspiration, and less talented musicians...
Then, something happens. A rebirth of sound, a new path for Veland to ascend. He turns away from the creepy, Gothic-Tristania-metal with his best foot forward, and tries something new. He creates Nine Destinies and A Downfall, an entirely listenable and enjoyable POP metal album. Honestly, just because an album is a bit more commercial does not mean it has no potential. The creative mind and inspiration here is definitely noticeable, which most pop albums, even metal ones, can not boast.
Choruses and catchy melodies abound, even my Hannah Montana-fan sister enjoys songs from this album. It is very approachable metal. The singing is for the most part clean, with the exception of the track, Sundown, and minor parts in a couple others (“Downfall” and “Seven Keys and Nine Doors”.) Monika Pederson, NDaaD’s newly introduced vocalist, has a simple, comfortable voice that is very easy to listen to, unlike say, Tarja Turunen or Vibeke Stene.
The songs are memorable enough, with standouts and fillers. They are cut at relatively short lengths, the longest track clocking in at 5:35. The musicianship is a bit toned down, however it is much more prevalent than other Gothic-Pop Metal bands. The guitar work is much stronger and noticeable than the majority of other bands in the genre, although there are symphonic keyboards highlighting as well. Veland keeps his trademark strong with the beautifully strong choirs.
Without a doubt, if you somehow wandered to this page and found this review, I recommend this album to you. Anyone with even the slightest interest in gothic metal, Sirenia, or anything like that would find something of value here. Sure, it isn’t the greatest piece ever written, nor is it even close, but it is a part of my collection that never gathers dust all the same. Give it a listen, for you never know what you may find.
Highlights: Sundown, The Other Side, Seven Keys and Nine Doors
Finally, what we've been waiting for has come: Morten Veland has decided to leave behind the "Tristania style" that was shown on the previous Sirenia albums, and has also decided to give his own style a try to success. And in order to do this, he hired the talented metal female vocalist Monika Pedersen.
Gothic-doom fans will be surely disappointed with this album, because the doom side of the band is completely dead. But all the gothic metal fans have gained an escellent album to hear. Personally, I love it.
Maybe the only thing that is not good about "Nine Destinies and a Downfall" is that the structure of the songs is almost the same! Few songs defy the lyric style that oustands in the album, and these songs are many of the best of the album.
Harsh vocals do not completely disappear, although they rarely appear. Actually, they're only featured in two songs: "Sundown" (the most aggressive song of the album) and "Seven Keys and Nine Doors" (one of the most weird songs of the album).
All the songs are good, but the ones that I personally like the most are: "The Last Call" (the opening track that indicates the style of most of the songs of the album), "Sundown", "Absent Without Leave" (the only song of the album that features clean male vocals by Morten Veland), "The Other Side" (the second song of the album to have a video made for it) and "Glades of Summer" (the slowest and the longest song of the album, one of my favorites).
CONCLUSION: If you liked Sirenia with its old style, don't even think on buying the album. But, if you want to give the new style a chance, go and acquire it now!
When I first heard that Sirenia was going to release a new album I was excited, but I was very disappointed by the outcome. Yes, I did buy the album, although I wish I hadn't. It’s a complete waste of money.
The album opener "The Last Call" starts electronically, then after about ten seconds the guitars start booming in. The guitars have altered to a very power metal-like sound that’s very different from the former albums. Then Monika starts to sing and my eyes almost popped out of their sockets. What an awfully poppy sound, like I'm listening to Britney Spears with guitars on the background. Still, I could accept this sound as the verse isn’t too bad, but I couldn't accept it anymore when the chorus started. It's like Monika and the chorus are destined for each other, just pop squared (for those who have no mathematical knowledge: it's pop x pop). Now it really IS Britney Spears. The song continues to have a silly verse-chorus structure.
The next songs get worse and worse. "My Minds Eye" is even poppier than "The Last Call", and the rest of the album just sounds like "My Mind's Eye". I can’t recognize these different songs as it all sounds exactly the same, cursed with the same verse-chorus structure, the same silly choruses, and the same idiotic vocals.
As you may notice, I dislike the vocals the most. I can accept the guitar work, which is like power metal, but I really can't stand the vocals. It's a very childlike, bubblegumpop-like voice, like my little niece is singing. Also, I really miss Morten's voice. He doesn't show up frequently in this album - only in about 2 songs - and when he does his "grunts" sound pathetic.
Conclusion: It's obvious this album was solemnly created for the purpose of money. Art in this album is far, very far away. Sirenia wants to make loads of money with this album by making it listenable to a 'wider public', but I think Sirenia made a big mistake with this. Also, I fear that the genre of gothic metal is slowly dying as more and more "gothic" bands attain this poppy sound.
Breaking the mold is never easy and often meets with opposition from those unwilling to realize that a band needs to grow and change in order to stave of stagnation. This is case with the latest offering from Norway’s Sirenia.
Starting off, this sounds NOTHING like evanescence. This is a true Metal album, specifically Gothic Metal and is infinitely heavier than anything from the aforementioned mall-core stalwarts.
Speaking of heavy, the guitars are rather monstrous in their own right. Typically Goth Metal bands don’t play this way. The harmonies are neither clichéd nor expected. The bass doesn’t do anything earth shattering but its still good. The drums are more or less in the same boat as the bass; however they do throw some interesting beats for good measure.
The vocals seem to be another point of contention for many here at the archives. They are amazing and fit the music well. They’re not of the operatic variety and as such will shock any long time fans who have yet to hear this release. Also Morten doesn’t do any singing what so ever.
Over all, the production is outstanding, the song writing is amazing and the band simply sounds wonderful. The band has moved the Gothic Metal style into a fresh and new direction. When Morten left Tristania it was because there were too many bands sounding like them. He wanted to play Goth Metal in a different way. He has finally accomplished this on this record.
When I heard about this new album, I had a bad feeling. There were some praises but also a huge amount of negative rumblings that were all very consistent. The word I saw thrown-around the most was "pop", and while I like pop music, pop and metal usually don't mix too well (unless you're older Sonata Arctica or older Edenbridge). And even though I had a really bad feeling about this, I couldn't resist downloading it to see exactly what happened.
My first thought while listening to this album was "Where the hell is Morten?!" I seem to remember a tiny serving of his vocals on maybe two songs, but I'm going to say that he's absent for at least 98% of this album. What we get instead, however, isn't too bad but it's still nowhere near as enjoyable as Morten's venomous rasp and growls. Monika Pedersen has a very innocent and cute-sounding voice (almost child-like). I'm a sucker for those kind of vocals except that they really don't fit on this album and her singing is pretty generic. Typical pop/rock female vocals you find in too many gothic bands these days just with a different tone.
In spite of the continued use of choirs and symphonies, the album is very very modern-sounding and as a result. the choirs and symphonies don't fit anymore. Heavy distortion, low tunings (probably dropped tunings also), simple melodies and progressions, electronic dabblings, and that blasted verse-chorus structure fill out the rest. The guitar riff you hear in the beginning of a song is the same one you'll be listening to the rest of the song. The songs also kind of all blend-in together and I honestly couldn't tell them apart if quizzed. The keyboards and guitars are simple and extremely repetitive. The other instruments aren't even worth mentioning.
This album demonstrates just how widespread the degenerative gothic syndrome is. Tristania, Cradle of Filth, Within Temptation, and now Sirenia have all fallen victim and I'm about ready to quarantine myself from this bastardized genre.
One of the most anticipated releases of early 2007, Sirenia have finally unleased their latest opus on their crowd, but with one major change: No lead male vocalist! However, this doesn't hold Sirenia back at all, in fact it only pushes them forward! While having the duet gothic aspect blended with doom was what the band was founded on, due to the recent departure, the band has gone strictly gothic with only a female vocalist. The songs on here don't have the same dark aspect they once did, but who will argue with such beautiful vocal work? Nine tracks (one for each destiny) quickly pass by as you become entranced by the constant mid-tempo tracks that will probably leave the harder metal fans screaming for the olden days. But if you crave melody in all aspects, this release is definitely for you. Astounding orchestral keyboard elements blended with simple guitar work make this release a step in the right direction. I just can't think of another band who did this move already...hmm...Oh yes, Tristania! It's becoming a growing trend!
Typically one would say that having a band with the same formulas as many other bands would be a bad thing, but in this case, Nine Destinies And A Downfall would put even Lacuna Coil gasping for air as they quickly suffocate what they built up. There aren't many bands like this who have the same melodic impact as Sirenia's concept portrayed on this release, so let's say keep 'em coming, however stereotypical they may be.
An added bonus is that the CD is enhanced and includes the music video for the track My Minds Eye, which is easily the best song on the CD against the others. But hey, if beautiful female singing vocals against wonderfully orchestrated mid-tempo melodic, gothic metal isn't your thing, then you will definitely want to shy away from this release. While the CD lacks the "duet" aspect like the past few CDs, this full length is well worth the three hours you put in at work.