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Sirenia - 'The Enigma Of Life' http://www.rocktopia.co.uk/media/reviews/photos/thumbnail/200x200s/56/03/da/1218_sireniatheenigmaoflife_1304707354.jpg Hot

Added by Central Electronic Brain     May 06, 2011    
 
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The song remains the same? Too much so in this case.

Oi, Morten! No! First the good news. 'The Enigma Of Life' is the first time a vocalist for Sirenia has ever recorded two consecutive albums, so in that respect Spanish frontwoman Ailyn has already written herself into the band's record books. 

The down side is that familiarity breeds contempt, and what was once the great strength of Sirenia is fast becoming its downfall. Morten Veland is a man of unquestionable talent; I have had the pleasure of interviewing him a few times now and find him a driven and extremely gifted songwriter and musician. However, with Veland writing, arranging, playing and producing everything himself, there's no-one to turn around and point out to him that in 'The Enigma Of Life' he's now released pretty much the same album three times in a row. When he started writing shorter, snappier, more accessible songs and unveiled the results of this new approach on the band's fourth CD 'Nine Destinies And A Downfall' in 2007 it came as almost a revelation. 'The 13th Floor', the 2009 album which introduced Ailyn, followed the same template, and now, a further two years on, here it is again. As such, the material on 'The Enigma Of Life' has become female-fronted-gothic-metal-by-numbers – the choir goes here, male voice here, extreme vocals here, here and here and, well, you get the picture. 'The Enigma Of Life' is no great enigma at all – it's just the same old, same old.

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Having said that, taken at face value there's nothing actually wrong with the album, and there are many highlights to be enjoyed if you've not heard Sirenia before or are a die-hard fan. Opener 'The End Of It All' is a great statement of intent, and the title cut is as strong as they come. Veland's production is tight and punchy, and Ailyn is an extremely talented singer – certainly the best Sirenia have ever had. It's just that we've heard it all before, that's all. The obligatory bonus cuts on the digipack version are more of the same – 'Oscura Realidad' could easily have come off 'Nine Destinies…' and an acoustic version of the title cut which is quite twee – and don't really warrant adding a couple more quid to your credit card bill.

At a time when most people think the metal female voices genre has pretty much run its course, it's almost heartbreaking to see a band that was once so innovative just treading water. The song remains the same? Too much so in this case.

John Tucker

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