Norwegian symphonic goth metal band Sirenia pushes the envelope of style with their eleventh studio album. This whirlwind of colour showcases novel aspects of their lead singer Emmanuelle Zoldan’s powerful voice, including more forward metal vocal techniques as well as her classic mezzo soprano opera style. The album is titled “1977” in a nod to Tanika Tikaram’s “1988”, off of which they cover the chart-topping “Twist in My Sobriety.”
“1977” takes a stylistic detour step in the direction of synthwave power metal, and while I didn’t anticipate this choice would be a good sound on them, it honestly wasn’t bad. Right out of the gate with the first track, “Deadlight,” the synthwave instrumental background and chromatic moments in the keyboard remind me of the title track on Battle Beast’s 2022 album “Circus of Doom.” But it isn’t until the third track, “Nomadic,” where we start to hear the starkest contrast to early Sirenia. The song reminds me once again of Finnish synthwave power metal giants Beast in Black and Battle Beast, with a healthy dose of Sabaton thrown in there as well. In fact, the groovy chorus “You can’t hold me back / you can’t hold me down / Can’t chain my soul down to the ground / Can’t break my spirit anyhow” from “Nomadic” sports almost exactly the exact same rhythm as “Fields of Verdun, and the battle has begun / Nowhere to run, father and son / Fall one by one under the gun” from Sabaton’s “Fields of Verdun” off their 2019 album “The Great War.” And I can hear the potential Sabaton influence continue through the grandiose, march-like aesthetic of “1977”’s fifth track, “A Thousand Scars.”
The album certainly isn’t just a Frankenstein’s monster of amalgamated aspects of other bands though. You can hear the unique Sirenia brand shine particularly strongly on tracks including “The Setting Darkness” and “Fading to the Darkest Black,” where the twist of pure gothic sincerity pulls together the synthwave elements in a unique tonal palette.
Some of my favourite tracks off “1977,” though, have to be “Delirium,” and “Timeless Desolation”. Along with “Oceans Away,” these tracks are classic old Sirenia, carrying the listener away in a pure work of classic gothic symphonic metal. . These tracks showcase the full breadth of Zoldan’s powerful operatic style, contrasted by a healthy dose of Morten Veland’s harsh vocals on “Delirium” to create that juxtaposed sonic duality I love so much – I just wish we had more growled vocals, particularly on “Timeless Desolation”.
In stark contrast to “Delirium,” the album concludes with the aforementioned cover of “Twist in My Sobriety,” where once again we hear Sirenia push their past envelope. I was particularly impressed with the expansive vocal techniques demonstrated by Zoldan, who shows that she can blow an audience away in the lower ranges as well as her usual mezzo soprano. It’s a tight production instrumentally too; Sirenia pulls this cover off with a refreshingly entrancing style that wraps up the album very elegantly.
Overall, “1977” appears to mark an important stylistic cornerstone in the evolution of Sirenia’s sound. Featuring a wide range of aesthetic attractions, there will surely be something in the album for all of their dedicated listeners, and I anticipate their audience growing substantially with its release as well. The band has upcoming shows in Spain, Italy, and Romania in July, where I’d encourage any locals to hear Sirenia perform the new material live.
Release Date: 26th May 2023
Label: Napalm Records
- Wintry Heart
- The Setting Darkness
- A Thousand Scars
- Fading to the Deepest Black
- Oceans Away
- Timeless Desolation
- Twist in My Sobriety