To look at Sirenia these days is like reliving the events around Leaves’ Eyes all over again. If you remember: Out rocketed Liv Kristine earlier this year and in came the Goth Chick from the East. And it was lightning fast with – apparently – no prior notice to the victim in this play of villains. In the context of Sirenia, it is Aylin Gimenez getting the boot in a tearing hurry. Aylin actually stayed longest with the band as female fronts go. In the past all leads left after an album or so, stating a variety of reasons. Kind of sounds like the infamous divorce excuse in the US called irreconcilable differences.
Well, we will never know what the truth really is or was, but I do see a pattern. Similar things happened with Nightwish, for example. Twice actually, once when Tarja Turunen got dismissed and the second time when the band forced Anette Olzon out into the cold. I am not sure what is wrong with the people skills of some of these guys. But hey, this kind of rough treatment seems to be the modus operandi in this genre.
Now, interestingly Emmanuelle Zoldan – a classically trained session performer – snatched the replacement job, seemingly in a hurry too. She worked with Sirenia already for long stretches of her career. When not busy with Trail of Tears or Turisas, that is. The announcement was made shortly before the band ushered the next and 8th album Dim Days of Dolor to their fan base.
Now, will Dim Days of Dolor make a difference?
Thinking back to The Seventh Life Path, I suffered from some pretty dire premonitions. But then, it seems that there is rhyme and reason to the madness of getting with HR for a replacement after all.
The band skips the usual intro, thank Loki. And just lets loose with an Avantasia-esque thunder-clap called Goddess of the Sea. Now, that’s already a step up from its predecessor and its heedless whining that got on my nerves after a while. But here the band belts a Power Metal worthy first track that just made me wake up to the task a bit better. The Goth-laden 3rd position called The 12th Hour again surprises with speed and a number of elements in there not heard on the disc before. The RockmusicRaider Electro-Pop watch dragon will even forgive them the nod towards Amaranthe and their ilk.
Now, make no mistake, Dim Days still lets you uncover the cheese platter!
But some dripping cheese is the price to pay in this kind of genre, so some of that is allowed. In return you will get a record loaded for murder with all kinds of musical elements. Morten Veland really pulled the plugs on this one and just lets loose. This mighty rover of the haunted abysses just lathers itself in Gothic and Symphonic Metal. Throw in a few forays into Power Metal like in Treasure N’ Treason and you got it figured.
Emmanuelle Zoldan much better loans herself than Aylin to this kind of Sirenia‘s new brand. We will even forgive her this annoying, somewhat nasal interpretation of some parts. Not sure where this comes from. Aylin sported this same specific style as well. And they are not even a Brits from the (supposed) Upper Class. Those folks like to communicate that way to show us mean earthlings where we stand.
After track #3 Dim Days of Dolor starts to lose steam. Luckily we get a powerful, pure Gothic Metal piece handed to us a bit later. Ashes to Ashes will again get you to full alert, when you just wanted to doze off for the remainder. I would have liked to see that one earlier in the track list – all the more so that it gets you one of these rare solos. Cool track. The dessert – however – comes with the last track, delivered in twos: You will get an English and a French version of Aeon’s Embrace. Déjà vu? Absolutely! Sirenia already did the same with Tragedienne. Okay, the second was called Tragica in the Spanish version, but still the same. Not in melody, of course, but in approach.
So, have we gotten ourselves a better record over last?
I have been somewhat harsh in judgement with the band’s partners in crime like Delain and seemingly less so with Sirenia. But consider this: The former and many of their ilk really delivered much more of the same bland porridge in a boring mainstream fashion. Whereas with the latter, after their issue-laden last record, Dim Days positively shines. It is not only the change in vocalist, but also a more thoughtful and detailed delivery. At the same time they neatly sailed around this gruesome cheese cliff and kept the terrible electronics under tight control. Dim Days of Dolor thus delivers a well-balanced Gothic and Symphonic Metal record that pleases with loads of hooks and elements, never letting you down. Great stuff.
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