Released By: Nuclear Blast
Release Date: Out Now!!!
Genre: Gothic Metal
Ailyn – Vocals
Morten Veland – Vocals, Guitar, Bass, Piano, Synths, Programming, Theremin, Mandolin, Ukulele, Harmonica, Melodium, Flute
1. Ducere Me In Lucem
2. Seven Widows Weep
3. My Destiny Coming To Pass
4. Ditt Endelikt
5. Cold Caress
8. Stille Kom Døden
9. The Funeral March
10. Profound Scars
11. A Blizzard Is Storming
12. Chains (Bonus Track)
13. Blue Colleen (Bonus Track)
Morten Veland has long been one of my favorite songwriters and musicians, ever since I first heard his final album with his former band Tristania, the masterpiece Beyond The Veil, which can be considered one of my favorite albums of all time. After leaving Tristania he formed Sirenia, and while his first two albums followed the same path as the aforementioned album, he quickly moved into something else: Something much more accessible and at times commercial sounding, with the lead female vocals taking center stage and everything else fading into the background. Most people had been disappointed by the last few albums, but even though I prefer the old style I have still been more than satisfied, in large part due to the amazing vocals of Spanish singer Ailyn, who Morten first brought in for the fourth album “The 13th Floor”, but she soon became the first Sirenia vocalist to stick around for multiple full length albums. Their third album together, and the sixth overall full length album by Sirenia, Perils Of The Deep Blue was released just recently, and while I had very high expectations for it, after several listens I stand amazed by just how spectacular it truly is!
As I mentioned above, while I personally loved their previous two albums, especially The Enigma Of Life, many of their other fans were not so pleased, and it seems both members took all the criticisms they received to heart, as while all the familiar elements are still in place, there have been many changes to make it a heavier, deeper and much more complex album. On Morten’s side, it seems he has taken equal parts inspiration from both the early Sirenia albums and the first two with Ailyn, but especially from his earlier days as this sounds like a much more traditional gothic metal album once again. There’s still the catchy choruses and accessible songwriting of the last few albums, but now the song structures are a bit more complicated like before, there’s an increased presence of crunchy guitar riffs, a much more darker and more atmospheric sound, and, perhaps most importantly, Morten himself does more growling here than he did on their last three albums combined, while the traditional choir vocals are as prominent as ever. What this means is the album is much more dynamic once again, just like it was back in his late Tristania/ early Sirenia days.
Meanwhile, Ailyn spent some time in between albums to take classical singing lessons with a Norwegian choir, which has helped make her a more dynamic singer, but also given her more range and clearly more confidence, as she sounds much stronger and more powerful than before. The classical singing is mostly used in quick bursts, so she hasn’t exactly become the second coming of Vibeke Stene (the former Tristania vocalist, for those who don’t know), but when she does use her classical vocals she sounds excellent. However, the biggest improvement she has made is simply with how more confident she sounds, as her voice has always sounded beautiful to my ears, but now she’s willing to go much further with her high notes than ever before, and so they can sound pretty spectacular at times.
Obviously, though, the most important thing is whether or not the songs are any good. Fortunately, this is easily the best collection of songs Morten has put out since the aforementioned Beyond The Veil. Perhaps my only complaint about previous Sirenia albums has been the fact that the songwriting always followed a specific formula, especially on those last three albums, so once you heard a couple songs you pretty much knew exactly what you’d be hearing the rest of the way through. While Perils Of The Deep Blue still has Morten’s usual approach to writing songs, along with all his trademarks and tricks, there is much more variety here and there are certainly more than a few surprises. In fact, every song has at least one or two huge moments to help them all stand apart from each other, and there’s no less than exciting part on the entire album.
The album opens quite impressively, first with a really nice intro track called Ducere Me In Lucem, where Ailyn shows off her classical training while singing in Latin, and then comes the absolutely incredibly first single “Seven Widows Weep”. I’m sure it had to have been designed to appeal to fans of the earlier albums, and right out of the gates it has some great riffs, epic choir vocals, a strong atmospheric feeling to the music, and the verses are growled by Morten, which are all elements that had been mostly missing for a while, except for the choirs. Then the chorus comes and Ailyn sounds as amazing ever, and from there the song takes off and becomes a classic that should especially impress fans of the debut At Sixes And Sevens.
Even the simpler songs feel so much bigger and more epic now, in part because there’s always so many layers to the music, with the guitars making a stronger impact, while the keyboards and symphonic elements are still as impressive and as prominent as ever. Add in all the vocal dynamics, and you have quite the recipe for success. After that impressive opener, we get something that feels more like the newer material with “My Destiny Coming To Pass”, except the riffs here are much better and there’s one particular sequence in the second half of the song that is simply amazing. A huge surprise comes on “Ditt Endelikt” which is sung almost entirely in Norwegian by guest vocalist Joakim Næss. The music is much lighter and more straight-forward than on the rest of the album, with a bit more of a commercial feel to it, but Joakim (who I have never heard anywhere else) does an absolutely outstanding job as he has a very warm voice and gives a very energetic and emotional performance, so much so that I don’t mind not being able to understand a word he’s singing. Ailyn’s only part in the song is in the form of whispered vocals in between choruses near the end, and this is done in her native language, so there is no English on the entire song.
I could go on further about the rest of the album, but all that needs to be said is it’s all amazing, and feels like a combination of old and new Sirenia while also being perhaps more complex and more varied than any of their other albums. There’s also a slight progressive feel to some of the song structures, in the way some of the more unpredictable moments can come so suddenly. But the centrepiece of it all is the 12 minute epic Stille Kom Døden, which is sung entirely in Norwegian, Morten’s native language. It should be no surprise, then, that he not only growls in a few sections, but at one point he even uses his clean vocals which he unfortunately hadn’t used for a long time. As usual, he sounds great with both styles. The song itself is a masterpiece, and it manages to be everything I could have possibly hoped for from what I’m pretty sure is the first epic length song Morten has ever written. There are plenty of tempo changes, plenty of spectacular moments, and even a sort of semi chorus sung by Ailyn, though it doesn’t get repeated too much, as the song moves quickly and has many movements, all of which are equally impressive. While it seems weird that such a huge and impressive song wouldn’t be the final track, the album amazingly does not lose any steam afterwards. In fact, this is one of those albums where you can tell everyone involved was inspired, and there’s just a magical feeling to the whole album, as even the two bonus tracks included on my physical copy are quite awesome.
As a longtime fan not only of Sirenia, but of Morten’s work with Tristania, I am quite amazed by just how good Perils Of The Deep Blue is. I was expecting a great album, and instead I got probably the best gothic metal album since…. Well possibly since Beyond The Veil back in 1999, that’s how good it is. Fans of early Sirenia and of female fronted metal on the whole are highly recommended to give this at least a couple listens, as it really is an exceptional album.
Written by Travis