’s “The 13th Floor
” is one of the more solid female fronted gothic metal albums to come out in 2009. All of these tightly wound structures of sound benefit greatly from a very specific formula conceived and executed by main creator Morten Veland.
This formula, first and obviously foremost, starts with the spotlighted vocal output by lead female vocalist Ailyn. Clean, angelic, and strong, she is every song’s centerpiece. On almost every track, the verse lines are sung with minimal music behind her to highlight her talent. That
duty on “The 13th Floor
” is split between bass and synthesizer. One of the stronger songs, “The Mind Maelstrom” exercises this pattern not only with some synthesizer cello and harp, but also includes a guest violinist to add an authentic vibe. Normally, though, it’s a simple synth-line or bass line (“Lost
” and “Beyond Life
” are two good examples) that will accompany her.
The remaining ingredients to every song include plenty of choir (authentically sung by an ensemble.) and a main theme often delivered by keyboards. Again
, a common writing style is seen from song to song. The main theme is not only played by the exclusive rights of the keys but can be often heard in the song’s intro (“Lost
”, “The Seventh
Summer”, and “Winterborn
77” to name a few) as well. The remaining tracks may have the choir or a guitar riff to lead the introduction.
The role of guitar is perhaps the most problematic aspect of this record. True
, the sounds offered by Veland are wide and many, including some awesome death metal vocals on the third verses of many songs, (one song even has a guest clean male vocalist) and some very impressive and epic sounding keyboard parts. The fact that Veland is both the keyboardist and guitarist means that the guitar parts have no voice in production, and thus appear as if played by a phantom. No real guitarist in a band, as opposed to a session musician, would be satisfied with the simple and bit parts relegated here. Since this is a metal record by definition, the guitar sounds frustrated. Even when those parts are highlighted, they are never alone and almost always are played under the main theme delivered by the either the keys or the choir or a voice. “Behind Life
” reveals this struggle well, while “The Lucid Door” may have the one of the heaviest rhythm guitar outputs of all.
This is minor compared to the big picture, and may be just the result of Veland spreading all of his abilities over “The 13th Floor
”. The album is really tight, strong, beautiful, gothic, and most definitely metal. The best song “Led Astray
” has it all, including the most beautiful main melody on the album, thunderous drums, an epic sounding choir output, highlighted verses, and a fast metal end. All the sounds are sweet with rich tones with every source and a wide range of emotion is felt everywhere. If one were to pigeonhole Sirenia
as a “female fronted gothic metal band” they would then have to concede “The 13th Floor
” as one of the best releases to come out of that genre in 2009.