Live Gig Review and All Photos by Zenae D. Zukowski
After years of listening to Norwegian gothic metallers Sirenia, collecting all eight studio albums including 2016’s ‘Dim Days of Dolor,’ to witnessing several lineup changes; the time has finally arrived for them to appear in North America, thanks to the Russian pagan/folk metal outfit Arkona. These Napalm Records labelmates joined forces for a co-headlining North American run that kicked off on Saturday, May 13 in New York City at Webster Hall’s the studio and concludes on May 30th in Austin Texas. This trek surprised many since it was a double celebration consisting of Arkona’s fifteen year anniversary and Sirenia’s first North American stomping grounds. Supporting acts on this journey included MindMaze and Sicosis and we were there to capture the excitement on night one, marking it as Sirenia’s first ever New York City appearance.
It was a cold and rainy day, and a few hundred metalheads took shelter at Webster Hall’s basement venue known as the studio. Despite both bands deserving much bigger stages, they managed to pack the place in minutes, even before Sicosis opened the evening to introduce their melodic death metal style.
As things seemed to get back on schedule, it was time for Pennsylvania metallers MindMaze. Unfortunately, despite the late start of the night and the venue’s strict curfew, this band had it the worse when it came to technical difficulties. The group had no choice but to carry on, and they did it quite well. It was during their first song when vocalist Sarah Teets’ microphone cut out and she didn’t scream, walk off or have a temper tantrum either. Instead, she grabbed the second microphone available and belted out each note as loud as humanly possible. Unfortunately, the volume on the second mic was low, making it difficult to hear her sing throughout the set. However, she did the best she could, and their overall energy throughout their obstacles remained impressive.
Arkona surprised the room when they were on next while everyone expected to see them close the show. Following a spiritual instrumental-infused with folklore, the band graced the stage in their traditional mythological robe attire. Having twelve songs on their setlist, vocalist Masha used every inch of that platform with her vibrant movements incorporated well with her diverse vocal range. Despite everything being in their native Russian language, the audience could feel their religious and cultural references they use in their music. The crowd went crazy as fans raised their cell phones to capture video and a few couldn’t stop jumping up and down to celebrate their fifteen years.
After a short break, it was time for Sirenia to close the evening. A few days before their arrival the band announced drummer Jonathan Perez was unable to attend. They didn’t disclose too much information, however, it seemed he was busy being on the road with the prog rock group Green Carnation. Whatever the case was, fans were able to see the genius and mastermind behind Sirenia, Morten Veland, in the flesh that night. The group has gone through roughly five female vocalists during their career and we managed to see the newest member, who is no stranger to the band, Emmanuelle Zoldan to perform Sirenia songs. Despite the small stage, it was a true experience for everyone in that room to witness Sirenia live for the first time. Not only this, they provided a terrific setlist which ranged from 2002’s At Sixes and Sevens to 2016’s Dim Days of Dolor, highlighting their entire career. Songs included “Serpent,” “Lost in Life,” “Dim Days of Dolor,” “My Destiny Coming to Pass,” “Goddess of the Sea,” “Treasure n’ Treason,” “Meridian,” “Ashes to Ashes,” “The End of it All,” “Sons of the North,” “Elusive Sun,” “My Mind’s Eye,” “The Other Side,” and “The Path to Decay.”
Due to the evening’s late start and technical difficulties, there was less interaction between the songs as both Arkona and Sirenia did their best to use their time giving their fans a full set. Hopefully, this experience will bring Sirenia back to the states in much less than fifteen years.