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The best way to describe the assault on the ears that is Sirenia's twenty one minute long EP released in 2005 entitled Sirenian Shores would be "epic". Everything about this EP seems geared up to absolutely astound the listener from the mixture of a collection of very over-the-top harsh vocals and operatic vocals with some clean singing from both a male and female. Couple this with the frequent use of symphonic music and some sections of crushing brutality and one could best describe this as a more refined Wintersun. The two bands are similar enough in nature except that Sirenia actually know how to structure a song that doesn't drag on for fifteen minutes, with the opening song being the longest one clocking in at just over six minutes. For the most part, Sirenian Shores is definitely a release worth checking out.
To open an album like this with a mixture of piano and symphonies with an underlying guitar riff before diving headfirst into the very well-done growled vocals and still carry the symphonic side of the band with it before moving into some very unique female vocals immediately gives off the feeling that this will be something great. From start to finish this is a release that never fails to stay true to both itself and its focus, and really does astound the listener with some amazing riff-work such as the one found two minutes into the title track that is just pure melodeath goodness but this really is an album where the focus is on the vocal work. The guttural roars are masterfully done and the cleans always take presidency when they are being used but also the operatic vocals are just as nice to listen to. This is an album where the vocal work is consistently at the forefront of what the listener hears purely because of how solid they are. Just four minutes into the EP you have already been barraged by a huge arsenal of different vocal styles that always feel completely necessary and wholly at home on this album.
This is the rare case of an album that blends symphonic metal with extreme metal where the two do not at all conflict. Both sides of the band are represented well here with some beautiful strings section and also some headbangable goodness from the melodeath side of the band. One needs only to hear the incredible female vocals over the top of a dark and depressing gothic instrumental in the second song, Save Me From Myself to be convinced that this band has it all, although it is on this song that the band's one flaw becomes apparent. The lyrics are both childish and ridiculously poor with no conviction in them whatsoever, instead feeling like a parody of what a real band should write. Listen to the entire duration of the EP and it fast becomes grating as the lyrics just do not feel at home on the record.
This EP is more than worth listening to as it provides a solid dose of symphonic/gothic metal with a wide array of different vocal styles and musical talents pooled together to make an incredible release. Unfortunately this has flew under the radar and nobody really caught onto it but it deserves a lot more attention as it really will amaze you.
Although a solid and enjoyable release, “An Elixir for Existence” lacked the unique brilliance and uncompromising aura of beautiful darkness that made “At Sixes and Sevens” a standard by which any gothic metal outfit should be measured. This EP is mostly comparable to the former in terms of its overall character, it contains the same morose shrieks and growls that Veland performs flawlessly, but lacks the brilliant collage of atmospheric elements, namely most of the Latin choirs and Pete Johansen’s somber violin melodies.
“Sirenian Shores” is the featured track and proves to be the strongest track on here. It carries a beautiful mix of keyboard ambiences and crushing guitar lines. Veland’s vocals dominate the fold, occasionally making room for Henriette Bordvik, who is not quite Fabienne Gondamin but performs well as Veland’s female foil. “Save me from myself” is a track off the Elixir album and listens mostly as a quasi-industrial Goth rocker that wouldn’t be out of place in one of the Matrix movies. My principle complaint when I heard it in its original form was a lack of development, and here that flaw is somewhat further exacerbated by the absence of the violin line.
The acoustic version of “Meridian” is quite beautiful and an interesting reinterpretation of the original, thankfully it lacks neither the brilliance of Henriette’s original vocal performance nor the woeful notes of Pete Johansen’s solo violin. “First we take Manhattan” is a cover that I was not familiar with before hearing this release; it mostly features Kristian Gundersen doing a low vocal drone line over a mid-tempo mix of guitars and keyboards. Not the greatest song I’ve ever heard but good enough to avoid it getting skipped. “Obire Mortem” is an instrumental afterthought by Veland that sounds a bit like his old work with Tristania, with a dense atmosphere and the underlying feeling of a dreary winter night.
This EP is an overall good listen, but other than its title track there isn’t anything that is 100% new or groundbreaking. If you were a fan of “An Elixir for Existence” then this falls along the same lines so it will surely be pleasing to the ears. But if you have a limited budget and can’t be bothered with something that is not top of the line, pick up a copy of “At Sixes and Sevens”, that is where Veland and company are truly at their best.
"Sirenian Shores" is the last release from Sirenia before they went mainstream. It's an EP that features two original (to a certain extent) tracks, two remakes of previous tracks and one cover. Although the tracks are very well done and easy to swallow, this EP lacks any originality whatsoever.
The title track, although isn't a remake, is not so original. Even though I would consider it as the band's best track yet, I cannot help but think that it is just an improved version of an older Sirenia song. If you heard this EP, you'd know that I'm talking about "Star-Crossed" from "An Elixir for Existence". It's true that it has completely different lyrics, but the melody is basically the same. Nonetheless, "Sirenian Shores" is a very beautiful song and it's the catchiest song Sirenia released so far.
We then move on to the first remake in the album; "Save Me From Myself". This track is taken from "An Elixir for Existence" and its the best track from that album. However, the remix, is a bit disappointing. It no longer contains the beautiful violins accompanying Henriette's voice. It is, however, a fun listen and you'll find it amazing if you haven't yet heard the original.
The second remake is that of "Meridian" from the band's debut album. Again, they don't score any points for originality because it's basically the same song with acoustic guitars instead of the usual instruments. It's much more relaxing than the original, but it's definitely not as amazing. Like the remix of "Save Me From Myself", this is hard to appreciate since the original is the best track from the album it appears in. But, overall, it's not a bad song and you wouldn't want to skip it.
Now this is the EP's real downfall. The cover of "First We Take Manhattan" sounds nothing like typical Sirenia. It doesn't even sound like their new mainstream sound. I don't really get the point of this cover because it contains no growls; just clean male vocals and mediocre female vocals. The clean male vocalist is good for a few lines, but he's not capable of singing an entire song on his own. Anyway, this track is absolutely horrible and might be the worst Sirenia track ever.
"Obire Mortem" is also unoriginal. If you heard Tristania's "Widow's Weeds", you'd know that this is just a different version of "Postludium". It's true that it's different to a certain extent (different music and male choirs instead of the female choirs that Tristania used), but the idea of a short track with choirs singing a few catchy lines isn't original. However, it's still a nice atmospheric closing track.
Overall, "Sirenian Shores" is very unoriginal and doesn't contain anything new. It is, however, a decent listen. However, unless you're a die-hard Sirenia fan, I would stay away from it. It's still a bit better than their latest album though.
So, one day I bought this CD after thinking "Oh, what the heck... it's only 5 songs, but it's cheap, and it's from Sirenia... ah... Sirenia..."
I really wasn't expecting much from a 5-song long EP, but it appears I vastly underestimated Morten and the crew.
The EP starts off with "Sirenian Shores", a most wonderful song. The melody sounds slightly similar to An Elixir for Existance's "Star Crossed", but that's not a real problem at all. A wonderful song without a doubt. Probably one to be used in concerts.
After that comes a remix of the AEfE's "Save Me From Myself". It's hardly recognizable if you don't take the lyrics into account, but it sounds good. Not as relaxing as the original version, but an interesting song to listen to.
Then comes the acoustic version of At Sixes and Seven's opening song, "Meridian". I must admit that this version retains very little of the original's atmosphere of power and grandeur, sounding more like the original "Save Me From Myself" than the remix we get in this album.
The guitars come back to life in "First We Take Manhattan", a Leonard Cohen cover. Apart from the instrumentals and "Save Me From Myself", this is the only Sirenia song so far that doesn't have any harsh vocals in it, and it manages to sound very good without them. Kristian and Henriette do a pretty good job on this song.
The EP ends with the instrumental "Obire Mortem". It's not a very long song at all, and after listening to it many times I'm still unsure of the feeling it transmits, but.. it's a nice way to end an album.
Overall I think this is a very nice EP, with two top-notch songs ("Sirenian Shores" and "First We Take Manhattan") and three other very decent ones. Not something to underestimate as lightly as I did when I first bought it.