Sirenia – The Seventh Life Path (2015) – Let’s not mince words with this one. Norway’s Sirenia may very well have made the best gothic metal albums of the year with their seventh release, The Seventh Life Path. Sounding less like the female fronted efforts of their mid-era and more like At Sixes and Sevens and An Elixir For Existence, it would seem that Perils Of The Deep Blue was certainly not a fluke and only offered a mere taste of what would be offered in this unbelievable new record.
Now it is not apparent at first from the opening cuts “Serpent 6:42” and “Once My Light 7:34” where Ailyn still takes on much of the record with her clean vocal approach, but it would seem that Morten Veland actually decided to give that old honey and lemon juice vocal remedy a try before belting out the fantastically dark “Elixir 7:34” which oddly enough sounds like it was literally ripped from An Elixir For Existence. This track seems like another ode to the elixir that he sadistically serenaded on the above-mentioned and it’s going to bring the past flooding back to you at about a million miles an hour.
Yes, parts of this album do indeed sound like they came from a much earlier period in Tristania’s lifespan and literally do recall such gothic masterpieces as Beyond The Veil and World Of Glass. I’ll be honest with you, when I first heard these classic structures flowing forth from the record, I was quite shocked. I literally said, “Holy shit! He’s still got it in him! He can still do the old stuff!” You would not believe the smile on my face during my workout (as I was exercising during the initial listen) as I literally received that which was the very last thing I’d ever expected from either the Sirenia or Tristania camps.
Back in my younger days, these bands used to be rather extreme, but as time passed they became more commercial and dulled their edges. Yet with The Seventh Life Path, I’m hearing much heavier and far more vibrant musical compositions, which come packed with orchestral theatrics, choral chants and guitar shredding. I am not kidding folks, we’re literally getting some “raise your horns and bang your head” moments here, which is going to be a little more than anyone ever expected at this point in time. But considering that the last Atrocity record brought back the roaring death metal of the old days cloaked in a gothic shade of the new, it almost seems like a resurgence in extreme gothic metal is on the horizon.
Now it doesn’t take a brain surgeon to tell you how much of this stuff I soaked in as a young man and how much of it influenced me in my own musical prospects, but I never would have believed that it would come crawling back like seventies disco and bell-bottoms. “Sons Of The North 8:31” sounds like an unused recording from Beyond The Veil and “Earendal 6:51” is absolutely beautiful. Even though there are female vocals on this composition as one might expect, Ailyn seems to be pressing for a far less poppier notion and things just feel a little bit more classy. Her vocals come with the allure of a siren and truly seem welcome on the tracks, which literally make the record sound like it could have come directly after An Elixir For Existence, even though there are strikingly obvious connections here to the band’s debut, At Sixes and Sevens.
“Concealed Disdain 6:22” is a vile piece regarding one’s frustrations with life and it does so with truly vicious lyrical approach and an atmosphere that embodies the truest sense of gothic heavy metal music, while “Insania 6:49” offers the most carnivorous song on the whole album. While “Contemptuous Quitus 6:40” does manage to sandwich in some more of that familiar female fronted sound, “The Silver Eye 7:42” manages to bring the fury back for one more round before the female vocal fronted ballad that closes the album. I know that gothic metal fans in this age have expected a certain sound, but I truly commend the band for introducing them to something far older, far darker and by and large, far more gothic. Should we say, “Don’t call it a comeback?” because that’s almost how it sounds.
Ladies and gentlemen, this is quite simply how I remember gothic metal. It was grandiose, bleak and theatrical with a side of thundering guitar and massively throaty growls, or diabolical rasps. It was the kind of music that seemed like it would fit just perfectly in the ruins of an old cathedral at night, especially during a full moon. The problem is, I feel like I’m only judging The Seventh Life Path on six tracks and a little over forty minutes of its almost seventy minute total playing time. That’s not really fair to the artist, so if we were to put it all into perspective, I guess I could consider sections of “Once My Light” truly viable and will also consider “Serpent” potent from a compositional standpoint.
If we look at the album musically, we’ll find that it is easily one of Morten Veland’s strongest in several years and truly evolves upon the already incredible moments that were featured in areas of Perils Of The Deep Blue. The Seventh Life Path is in a word, evolution. It allows the band to take a step into the past while still making a firm stance in the present, and ultimately offers what will hopefully be an increasingly different sound and side to the act in the years to come. To put this admittedly overblown review into a few short words, The Seventh Life Path is what gothic metal should and still can sound like. I hope to hear more in the future, but I’m in no hurry for them to make another. This will do quite nicely.
Stream Sirenia by clicking on the album cover above, or check out their new video below.
(11 Tracks, 69:00)