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Review: Sirenia - An Elixir For Existence
An Elixir For Existence

Label: Napalm Records
Year released: 2004
Duration: 53:45
Tracks: 9
Genre: Gothic Metal

Rating: 3.99/5

Review online: March 19, 2004
Reviewed by: 4th Horseman
Readers Rating
An Elixir For Existence

Rated 4.13/5 (82.5%) (8 Votes)

Woah! Looks like the bar has been raised for intensity levels in Gothic Metal! Although Sirenia were not disappointing at all on their last effort, their sound had some pop influences in it and was not very heavy at all. On "An Elixir for Existence" however, Sirenia seem to have recognized that problem and put forward a real hard knocker that is as genre-transcending as anything could possibly get. This is still Gothic Metal; however, if I were to be extremely picky about it, I'd label this Progressive Gothic Metal with a strong Melodic Death influence marked by monster heavy metal riffery! Tristania meets Dark Tranquillity with Children of Bodom and Norther jumping in every now and then….so yeah…this may not be everyone's thing!

The song structures are actually quite complex and don't really follow a pattern. And like last time around, Sirenia have included various different sounds such as violins and choirs to come up with a very impressive piece of work. I flip-flopped about 5 times when rating this album and finally decided to leave this one just short of the "A" category (Anything above a 4/5 on my books is very, very highly recommended and it shouldn't even cross your mind not to check out! ;). Let me explain why "Elixir…" falls just short of that range. There is something missing in this album. To pinpoint it exactly would be difficult, but I am pretty sure the vocals have something to do with it. Morten Veland (the growling guy) seems to be hogging the mic here without giving much airtime to the gorgeous voice of Henriette Bordvik (the girl). I don't particularly mind Veland's style of vocals, but at some points, it just appears that he is auditioning for front man for Children of Bodom! Now that can get annoying. Especially for people who are not die-hard CoB fans. At other parts the growling is not only tolerable, but quite enjoyable. But again, the beauty of this band comes from its incorporation of angry male versus blissful female vocals, and this album does not deliver that! She really needs to come to the front more often. One little song in the middle doesn't make up for this! My only advice to the band would be, that if you want to pursue an angrier and melodic death metal sound, Dark Tranquillity is the way to go about it, not Cob. You have Bordvik…make her majestic voice play for your advantage and ease up on the growl-galore! There is so much potential and talent available in this band, and aside from a little lead vocal problem, the band HAS made its mark with this release! It is not just another cover band for the aforementioned like CoB or DT. These guys are actually quite original and play their own style very well. Just sometimes, the influences become painfully obvious.

One final thing worth noting…the riffs! Good god, I didn't think Gothic Metal could have such crazy guitar riffs! These guys make something as simple as a 'chugga chugga' or a 'jin jin jin' sound so sweet! None of the songs actually start off with such riffs, but at some point in almost all the tracks, the music stops, and a mighty eighties style heavy metal riff kicks in and takes off again! The album opener "Lithium And A Lover" is a perfect example for this and probably the best track on the entire disc.

"An Elixir For Existence" is definitely worth checking out. If you liked the band's previous release "At Sixes And Sevens", then the above criticism shouldn't really sour you that much on getting it. This one definitely hits a lot harder that their last one; A solid release that is bound to please those who like Gothic or Melodic Death Metal. I am just very fussy sometimes and the severe lack of clear female vocals really annoyed me, considering the fact that that was the primary entity that got me into this band!

Strongly recommended nonetheless!

Other related information on the site
Review: At Sixes And Sevens (reviewed by Scott Murray)
Review: Nine Destinies and a Downfall (reviewed by Bruce Dragonchaser)
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