If dark and symphonic music is what you want, Mr. Morten Veland and his crew are always there to help satisfy your craving.
Deliberately entitled The Seventh Life Path, the seventh (got it?) full-length album by Norwegian Gothic/Symphonic Metal band Sirenia has everything it takes to please diehard fans of the band and newcomers to the world of symphonic music: melodic instrumentals, wicked synthesizers, a powerful choir, the charming female vocals by Spanish diva Ailyn Giménez and, of course, the iconic Morten Veland.
Perhaps one of the most interesting components in The Seventh Life Path is its artwork, designed by renowned artist Gyula Havancsák of Hjules Illustration and Design, whose latest works can be seen in the new albums by Ensiferum and Grave Digger, for example. It’s a very detailed illustration, where the artist and the band clearly wanted to augment the importance and meaning of the number seven to the album. “The 7 number appears as 7 ravens, 7 snakes, 7 roses on the dried out wreath…”, said Gyula about this peculiarity in an interview.
However, it’s not just the artwork that makes The Seventh Life Path a good album, but the music itself. As soon as the symphonic and imposing intro Seti begins, it already embraces the listener and sets the tone for the next track, the (at the same time) creepy and captivating Serpent. Ailyn and Morten provide a beautiful balance of clean female vocals and harsh growls, and even with the presence of some Gothic passages the song ends up sounding truly metallic and symphonic. Once My Light is a lot more “commercial” due to the focus on the smooth vocal lines by Ailyn and the less imposing instrumental, also providing us all a lovely atmosphere and eerie passages with a Gothic touch that only Morten is capable of crafting.
In Elixir, featuring Joakim Næss on clean vocals (who by the way already worked with the band in Perils of the Deep Blue), modernity and tradition are put together, while just the intro in Sons Of The North already kicks ass by itself even before the main portion of the music takes shape. It’s a motherfuckin’ epic ode to Scandinavia, almost a Norse hymn, where the deep growls by Morten, all the orchestrations and especially the choir are flawless. Besides, the lyrics are far from being original (“Here the thunder and lightning / Are both enforced by the mighty Thor / We are the sons of legends / We are sons of myths and lore / Our legacy is forever / Behold its radiance forevermore”), but they didn’t really need to be to sound amazing. They kept it simple, and it worked pretty well. However, once again embraced by symphonic elements, Earendel (or Aurvandil) doesn’t live up to its predecessor, getting too generic after a while even with all the breaks and variations.
With a denser sonority and a faster pace, where drummer Jonathan A. Perez showcases his more ferocious skills, Concealed Disdain has one significant issue in my opinion: I find Ailyn’s voice too low during the whole song, preventing it from being a lot more pleasant. On the other hand, sounding like old school Tristania enhanced by the more contemporary musicality by Sirenia, the excellent Insania shows beyond doubt that Morten is a terrific musician, with highlights to its synths and drums for adding so much power to the final result. I also love when Morten goes back in time and revives his darkest side in lyrics like the ones found in Contemptuous Quitus (“You’re the torn in my heart / You will tear me apart / You’re a plague and a curse / Contemptuous quietus”), and besides, I must say I was eager for some heavier riffs, which are finally delivered in this song.
The last two tracks of the regular version of The Seventh Life Path are also well-engendered and contribute to the overall quality of the album. Firstly, The Silver Eye, which could have been just a little shorter, sounds like Symphonic Black Metal in many of its moments, with Ailyn and Morten making a good vocal duo once again. And secondly, we have the Gothic ballad Tragedienne, with Ailyn’s voice and the piano notes being its centre pieces. Of course what I’m going to say is not a universal truth, but I believe fans of Tristania will enjoy it more than fans of Sirenia. In addition, there’s also a Spanish version for this song as a bonus track depending on the version of the album you acquire.
In short, if what Sirenia wanted to achieve with The Seventh Life Path was a well-balanced and energizing continuation to their entertaining career, keeping the names of Morten and Ailyn alive in the minds of Gothic and Symphonic Metal partisans, they more than succeeded in their quest. And if you are one of those dark music supporters, you should thank Morten and his crew for always bringing forth your favorite type of music, just like what is presented in The Seventh Life Path.
Best moments of the album: Serpent, Sons Of The North and Insania.
Worst moments of the album: Earendel and Concealed Disdain.
Released in 2015 Napalm Records
1. Seti 2:05
2. Serpent 6:31
3. Once My Light 7:21
4. Elixir (featuring Joakim Næss) 5:45
5. Sons Of The North 8:16
6. Earendel 6:14
7. Concealed Disdain 6:11
8. Insania 6:39
9. Contemptuous Quitus 6:29
10. The Silver Eye 7:29
11. Tragedienne 4:54
12. Tragica (Spanish version of Tragedienne) 4:55
Morten Veland – guitars, vocals, bass, piano, synth, mandolin, programming
Ailyn – female vocals
Jan Erik Soltvedt – guitars
Jonathan A. Perez – drums
Joakim Næss – clean male vocals on “Elixir”
Damien Surian – choir
Emilie Bernou – choir
Emmanuelle Zoldan – choir
Mathieu Landry – choir