For his fifth Sirenia project, The Enigma of Life, founder and guitarist Morten Veland seems to have settled on a female vocalist as Spain's Ailyn returns to the mic. once more. The Enigma of Life has all the elements that define Sirenia: symphonic, melodic, and sometimes bombastic metal with signature soaring female vocals and guitar solos. The songs 'This Darkness' and 'A Seaside Serenade' are typical of this formula. Yet, over the course of listening, The Enigma of Life seems to have a more accessible nature, a lively almost melodic rock feel. 'Fallen Angel', 'Darkened Days to Come', and extremely catchy 'Winter Land' swell with foot tapping rock appeal. 'Winter Land' certainly has commercial, radio-friendly, viability.
Having made this assessment The Enigma of Life closes with four songs that could pitch either way. 'Coming Down' and 'This Lonely Lake' couple that rock sensibility with the drama of symphonic metal. 'Fading Star' moves closer to bombastic and melodic black metal with addition of death growls. The closing piece, the title cut, is pure epic symphonic melodic metal. While typical of the genre, the songs on The Enigma of Life are varied and entertaining, having an alluring and unexpected attractiveness. Quite possibly this could be Sirenia's best work.
Having said all this, however, many fans feel that the album is a large departure from Sirenia's previous albums. But my advice to those naysayers is stick with it and you'll see that while still a variation from other albums it follows the progression Sirenia have shown through their albums. It is a classic album following in the sound of After Forever and Nightwish.
Overall: 4.1/5 - A stunning and evocative album showing that there is still hope for the Female-fronted metal genre. Stick with it and you'll see what I mean!
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