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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.