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Unfortunately, they should've tried to make money - 73%

failsafeman, May 28th, 2008

Siren is a bit of an oddball band, having started out with a couple of strong, progressive-tinged demos in a time when prog metal was rare; later, their debut didn't exactly fail utterly, but rather failed to satisfactorily live up to the potential seen in the demos. Here, the band goes for a bit of a different sound; it's much more streamlined and polished (though not in a commercial way), but unfortunately a good chunk of the rough character of the earlier releases has been polished right out.

On Financial Suicide, Siren exhibit a mildly progressive, mildly thrashy sound, reminiscent of a less quirky version of later Mekong Delta (think Kaleidoscope with less Rush). It's little wonder then that this release was on Delta mastermind Ralph Hubert's Aaarrg label. Doug Lee takes on vocal duties on this album, and while he's no virtuoso, and no personality like Dio or Halford, his high-pitched nasal whine/rasp is actually quite pleasing. It's not surprising then that Hubert snapped him up for his band after the demise of Siren. Siren's riff style is tinged with thrash, and though generally simple, occasionally exhibits a technical flair. The problem is, it's also pretty damn generic. There aren't any really horrible riffs or blatant ripoffs, just very little that's noteworthy; and while the songs aren't incredibly repetitive, their lack of good ideas often makes them seem so. Rather than having glaring faults or being actively irritating, Financial Suicide just suffers from a deficiency of actively good qualities. It doesn't help that the songs aren't short, and that the production is decidedly bland; not horrible, but with most of the aggression polished right out (think a weaker Kaleidoscope).

However, there are some brighter spots; "Kreator of Dreams" is pretty entertaining, the chorus especially ("Don't even try, it's not allowed! Not allowed by me!"). "Unsung Hero" deviates from the band's usually generic social commentary to deal a bit with more epic fantasy themes; the song benefits as a result, and has some interesting time-signature changes to boot. "Lines of Steel" has some actually pretty intelligent commentary on metal and metal culture, but I'd probably be more impressed if the song weren't boring. "This Machine", on the other hand, has fairly banal lyrics but is quite catchy and fun. "Digital Clock" is actually pretty damn good, I'd say the best on the album. It's a bit slower and plodding, with more of a power metal feel. The lyrics deal with one of those dystopian futures where people are numbers and are under constant surveillance, but it transcends what might have otherwise been dull by focusing on hope of escape rather than just mechanical despair (also, a couple of good riffs help).

Unfortunately, four decent songs out of nine don't make for a good album. The rest aren't horrible, but incurably bland. Not a bad album to have on in the background (as I do now), but don't expect it to distract you from whatever you're doing with a plethora of good ideas. I couldn't pick out any direct ripoffs, as I said, but nonetheless found myself half-recognizing a good chunk of the riffs, more than is acceptable. Most of them are just so generic that they sound like everyone but Siren. Still, don't fully dismiss this album; there's a solid EP's worth of good material here, well worth skipping through the filler to appreciate.

(As a side note, the bassist/backing vocalist is apparently named Les Talent, sometimes spelled in the booklet as Less Talent; I guess a band in-joke, but one that's eerily appropriate to Financial Suicide as a whole.)