- Sarah Stubbs
REVIEWED: Sirenia's 'Arcane Astral Aeons'
An unstoppable force of nature on the goth metal scene, Sirenia’s latest release ‘Arcane Astral Aeons’ should come with an extreme weather warning.
Formed on the back of supremely talented guitarist Morten Veland’s success with the mighty Tristania, Sirenia have embraced the genre’s ‘beauty and the beast’ aesthetic of metal aggression and classically-inspired harmonies to record one spirited, fast-paced record after another, each a wind-whipped jolt to the system as potent as a highly caffeinated shot of morning espresso. Recruiting gifted mezzo-soprano vocalist Emmanuelle Zoldan was a wise move; unlike her swooning, delicate predecessor Ailyn, this beauty has bite. Her big, bold, crystalline voice has depth, power and a commanding muscular presence amidst the death vocals and violins, hair-trigger drums and sweeping, synthesised beats that typify Sirenia’s sound.
Zoldan’s second album with the group is as passionately tempestuous as fans have come to expect, and she really hits her confident, powerful stride – the other members more than happy to fall in step beside her. ‘Arcane Astral Aeons’ is an intense celestial odyssey of gothic opulence, each track shooting through vast symphonic soundscapes at the speed of light, with effervescent symphonies exploding in showers of synthetic, riotous colour along the way. Stylistically speaking, it’s the usual fare – but the fearless four-piece have branched out to incorporate some elements of black and industrial metal alongside their dauntless, dramatic melodies to compelling effect.
Hard rock appetiser ‘In Styx Embrace’ opens the album with a raging, demonic choir, cut through with rich seams of clean, vigorous vocals, while catchy standout single ‘Love like Cyanide’ is packed with power and punch, driven by the raw, husky voices of Zoldan and Veland and brim-full with wild, untethered emotion. 'Asphyxia' and 'Desire' create a sublime discord between juddering, distorted guitar chords and lyrical, lofty vocals, ‘The Voyage’ digs deep with pounding, heart-racing riffs and ‘The Twilight Hour’ is all vivid, operatic fantasy. ‘Glowing Embers’ undulates gently along like flickering fire, flirting with chaotic, delirium-inducing string sections, before diving headfirst into a satisfyingly heavy rock finale to finish off the album.
‘Arcane Astral Aeons’ is not one for snobbish metal purists, but those who can ignore the corny lyrics and get caught up in the starry gothic adventure are in for an epic ride. Out there doing what they do best, Sirenia finally have the frontwoman they deserve, and their timeless sound won’t fail to captivate and delight long-standing fans of this much-beloved band.
‘Arcane Astral Aeons’ is out now on Napalm