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Nothing here resembles an "enigma" - 60%

Twistedeyes, February 1st, 2011

Sirenia for most of the time are the pure definition of an enigma, it is quite puzzling and unexplainable how Morten Veland and company released two magnificent gothic metal albums, drastically changing to releasing an average symphonic metal and then the release of The 13th Floor showed definite signs of improvement over it's predecessor. The Enigma of Life breaks the pattern of those reoccurring enigmas and attempts to play it safe by sticking closely in style to The 13th Floor which is not necessarily bad as that album definitely had some very enjoyable moments. Comparisons aside for most of the time there just isn't anything quite entertaining, emotionally gripping or overzealous enough to fully grab your attention.

Quality wise this album is all over the place, ranging from the two abysmal pop/symphonic metal opening tracks to some quite enjoyable moment in much later tracks of the album e.g Morten's clean vocals in Darkened Days to Come. Similar to its predecessor album the quality of songs do pick up after the two terrible opening tracks, not by a huge and substantial amount you would be led to believe though but notable improvements never the less.

The main glaring problems here are lack of identity, having to fight off a sea of symphonic/gothic metal bands to be recognized is hard enough but it doesn't help Sirenia also that this album sounds essentially the exact same as the last one except not as entertaining. Lead female vocalist Ailyn can evidently sing quite well when given the opportunity can and perform most of the verses spot on but during the choruses it's a completely different story. During the choruses Ailyn sounds way too high pitched for my liking turning any momentum the song might have built up completely on its head!

The guitar riffs/solos and growls on this album are not entirely in the background or excluded but are lacking a certain punch, the elements that would make them impactful and stay with you long after you listen are absent. The programmed drumming and synthesizers are adequate for what they are meant to do. Lyrical wise like all other Sirenia albums deals with themes such as human decline and the general dark side of humanity, there is lots to work with inside this theme but it is impossible to take most of the songs seriously as it sounds like Ailyn is happy singing them and Morten's growls are restricted to certain parts of the songs!

Almost every song on the album follows the same boring and predictable verse chorus verse structure, that doesn't entirely mean that the songs are automatically unenjoyable and there are noteworthy parts during most of the bridges. The exception to this painfully predictable song structure rule is the title track, the only track I find decent and a bit out of the norm, Ailyn fully proves she can sing here and it feels like that The Enigma of Life is the only song that there was a certain degree of emotional investment put into.

For most of the part it feels like The Enigma of Life is just a worse version of The 13th Floor, offering little new material to the Sirenia discography or the symphonic/gothic metal genre. It may seem a bit drastic but the quality of most the songs are honestly on par with Sirenia's Nine Destinies and a Downfall album, one decent title track doesn't save the entire album from mediocrity. There are enjoyable parts to salvage from a majority of songs here, it's just a bit hard to justify listening through mostly mediocre songs to find them.

Music lovers trying to get into Sirenia's music are better off with any of their other albums excluding Nine Destinies and a Downfall which The Enigma of Life is sadly on par with. I would recommend that if you're a current Sirenia fan to at least check this out to see what it sounds like but you're most likely going to be disappointed.