Sunday, November 13, 2016

Album Review: Sirenia - Dim Days Of Dolor

I sometimes struggle to remember all of the music I've heard, considering how much of it there is, and how much of it becomes forgettable. But I seem to recall that there was a time when symphonic metal was actually fun. Not that the music was necessarily 'happy', but there was a sense of enjoyment both in the writing and the performances, where you could tell that the bands loved what they were doing. That, in turn, made the music ever more enjoyable to listen to. But recently, it seems to me as though most of the bands with symphonic elements are throwing them out there because they feel like they have to, and the music has been drained of its color. Perhaps this line of thinking is perpetuated by the title of this record.

Or, it could be that the record itself fulfills the prophecy of the cover. Listening to the opening "Goddess Of The Sea", it's hard for me not to think that way. The song goes through it's dark tones, offering little melodic reprieve. The symphonic parts follow the guitars, which is a waste of that entire array of sounds, and the vocals are utterly unintelligible. I truly can't understand why that track would serve as the opening statement to the record, given how hard it is to get into.

There are better tracks, though, so don't write off the record just yet. The title track is a far, far better effort, with a punchier tempo and a hook that will stick with you. It's not as symphonic, no, but perhaps that's what makes it more effective. There's more of a song behind the lush sounds. It's an approach the band would be advised to take up more often, which makes it more of a shame when they revert to an odd semi-death metal approach for "The 12th Hour". That song not only doesn't have any melody, but the attempts to sound like a Gothic horror soundtrack make it uncomfortable. I'm not sure what makes bands think that string orchestrations and female classical singers should be paired with half-assed death metal, but it doesn't work. Not at all.

Like many bands of this ilk, Sirenia gets caught up in trying to sound grand and epic, and focus more of their attention on the sounds and arrangements, and not on the core of songwriting. The window-dressing is beautiful, but that doesn't matter if the walls supporting the window are on the verge of crumbling. That's an extreme analogy, but the point I'm getting at is that all of the lush instrumental layers you can throw on a song won't change whether it's a good song or not. And unfortunately for Sirenia, the songs they've written here aren't interesting or memorable enough.

There are plenty of moments that are great, and I can hear the ideas that would have made for some great songs, but they aren't carried to fruition. There's a great verse that leads to a lackluster chorus. There's a beautiful string piece that leads to a flat riff. On and on that goes, to the point where I think the band would have been better off focusing exclusively on the orchestrations or the metal, and leaving the other completely off. It's clear to me their focus is split, which leads to songs that don't have enough development.

Look, there's nothing terribly wrong here. The music is fine, but what does that really mean? We're nearing the end of the year, and while my thoughts turn to organizing the lists of music I've heard, one thing is clear; fine music gets forgotten. So what does that say about Sirenia?

No comments:

Post a Comment