B-Mac Album Review: Sirenia, Riddles, Ruins & Revelations

Photo by Richelle ter Heege

By Brandon “B-Mac” McCarthy

In 2016, while I was recovering from a sudden bout with heart failure, I was with Center Stage Magazine at the time. Attempting to build their heavy metal division, I started reaching out to labels for promos. One particular label that has been good to me to this day is the German label Napalm Records. It was through this label that I discovered the epic symphonic metal outfit known as Sirenia. The first record I heard from them was Dim Days of Dolor. The sweet operatic voice of Emmanuelle Zoldan and hard-edged riffs of Morten Veland aroused me. Zoldan is Sirenia’s third female vocalist, having replaced longtime leader Ailyn. She has made a lasting impact within the band, and they just completed their third album with her (10th overall), Riddles, Ruins & Revelations. 

We start with “Addiction No. 1.” As the title suggests, the song confronts the issues of addiction and the hardship of escaping it. Veland is very raw on the main riffs as well as handling the keyboards and programming in the intro. Nils Courbaron comes in on lead guitar, shredding an exquisite solo. In “Towards an Early Grave,” Sirenia explores the darkness within themselves. Drummer Michael Brush is both bombastic and melodic behind the kit. While Zoldan enchants us with seraphic singing, Veland howls back with his death growls. “Into Infinity” is an explosion of electronica and symphony. The riffs Veland hammers out are a near perfect blend of Gothic rock and electro. The bass lines he creates flow gracefully with the melody. We come to “Passing Seasons,” a tune where weird synthesizer effects mates with intense death guitar licks. It can almost be passed off as an Amaranthe song. I felt Zoldan’s warm embrace as she shows off the range of her incredible opera-style singing. “We Come to Ruins” is full of passion and heavy zest. Veland and Courbaron go off the reservation with some insane riffs and poignant solos. Veland lets the Beast out of his cage and growls, while Zoldan is Belle as she soothes him with angelic singing. Arguably, one of the albums highlights.

Photo by Richelle ter Heege

Riddles, Ruins & Revelations reaches the halfway point as we start “Downward Spiral.” Singer Joakim Næss shares vocal duties as he and Zoldan sync together beautifully. The choir in the background is captivating to hear. Courbaron sizzles with a grand, ballad infused solo. “Beneath the Midnight Sun” has some fiery riffs that are scorching hot. Veland continues to improvise different techniques on the keyboards to combine the love pairing of Goth and opera. It is simply alluring. I really enjoyed the main riffs of “The Timeless Warning.” Veland’s gruff voice is extremely eerie, playing off nicely with Zoldan’s angelic quality. Brush is a speed demon on the snare as he matches the main riff. The excitement Sirenia creates in this tune is resilient to its core. Gothic melodies overtake the song “December Snow.” The melancholy piano track Veland puts together goes along perfectly with Zoldan. She truly shines as her voices reaches peaks not yet achieved on this album. It truly puts in league with names like Tarja, Simone Simons, and Sharon den Adel. The album reaches the finish line with “This Curse of Mine.” Zoldan’s singing is remarkable as she walks through the darkness with confidence. The rolling drum work Brush provides is so driven, as well as Courbaron’s soaring solo. The album also features a catchy cover of Desireless’ “Voyage, voyage.”

I really enjoyed listening to Riddles, Ruins & Revelations. After 10 albums, Sirenia continues to go beyond the symphonic sound as well as evolve it further. Zoldan continues to enthrall me with her voice as she did in 2016, justifying why she belongs in this group. This is another smash for Napalm Records. For fans of Epica, Within Temptation, and Amaranthe, you will relish in this band’s amazing skills as I have. To Sirenia, I salute you. Horns up!!!

8.4/10

Track Listing:

01. Addiction No. 1
02. Towards An Early Grave
03. Into Infinity
04. Passing Seasons
05. We Come To Ruins
06. Downwards Spiral
07. Beneath The Midnight Sun
08. The Timeless Waning
09. December Snow
10. This Curse Of Mine
11. Voyage Voyage

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