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How the gothic have fallen - 30%

Tymell, February 12th, 2011

What on earth happened to Sirenia? I hadn't listened to the band since their first two albums, but then I come back and find -this-? You're telling me the same band that crafted those two masterworks of gothic metal has now been reduced to little more than a Nightwish clone?

Not that I even have a problem with Nightwish. Their latest was somewhat lacking, but even the much-derided (by some) Once was chock full of catchy songs that kept me coming back for more. It showed that with some simple-yet-effective riffs, a talented vocalist and good sense of song-writing you can really turn out something special, so there's nothing wrong in adopting that style if you do it well. The Enigma of Life certainly does not however, coming out much more like a very uninspiring mess of lifeless components.

The riffs are really just a chug-along-in-the-background affair that never manage to assert themselves for any length of time. Of course many metal bands have shown us the riffs can be a part of something greater, taking a backseat for the greater good. But alas, there's little else to take their place in leading the music to heights of elegant darkness as was heard in the band's early days. The vocals are utterly generic female croonings with none of the captivating power of the genre's better frontladies, more often so sugary that the listener's face scrunches up in a painful wince. A nice voice is of no use if you don't do anything with it.

The albums one saving grace (of sorts) lies in it's symphonc aspects. These are still not great, a far cry from masters like Therion or Epica, but they have their moments at least. Many of the symphony compositions would work well if only they had more substance behind them from the rest of the band. As it is, they can't carry an album on their own.

Several sections of the album had me outright cringing in the sheer cliche limpness, the pervading feel that the band isn't even trying, and most of it was completely forgetable. Gone is the gothic majesty of At Sixes and Sevens or An Elixir For Existence, replaced instead with a poorly executed attempt at emulating the commercial appeal of bands like Nightwish or Within Temptation, but without either band's passionate vocals, song-writing skills or ability to seamlessly entwine grand symphonics and driving guitars together. Sirenia will have to try a lot harder if they want to show they're still capable of the old magic.