Sirenia – Deep Cold and the Deeper Blue

Tuesday, 9th July 2013

It’s by sheer coincidence than Sirenia and Tristania are releasing albums within a few weeks of each other. The pair, inexorably linked because of guitarist/vocalist Morten Veland’s involvement in each, no longer bear any kind of sonic resemblance to one another. While Tristania has effectively veered off the symphonic Goth metal course, Sirenia has largely stayed on track since their 2002 At Sixes and Sevens debut, which emerged two years after Veland left Tristania. The most notable change in Sirenia’s facade has been the entrance of singer Ailyn, who has (wo)manned the vocal spot since 2009’s excellent The 13th Floor. The better part of the last ten years-plus have been spent relishing in their role as Norway’s top Goth metal band.

It’s Ailyn’s development, along with the expanse demonstrated by Veland in the songwriting department that makes their new Perils of the Deep Blue a winner. Pouty symphonic Goth this is not; rather, it’s dominated by daunting twists in the melody department, perhaps best represented by mid-album epic “Stille Kom Doden,” a song we felt was necessary to nag Veland about, in addition to several other topics of the pressing variety. Here’s what the guitarist had to say in response to our pesky inquisitions…

Dead Rhetoric: Six albums in, and it still sounds like you guys are expanding your sonic palette. So, after releasing an album, do you do any type of reflection on what worked, what didn’t, etc.?

Morten Veland: Yeah, we always do. So for future albums we can exclude the stuff that weren’t optimal, and put more focus on stuff that worked out for the best. We also get a great impression of what works best when we play the songs live. Touring always reveals what stuff the fans enjoy the most, this is experiences we try to take with us for the future.

Dead Rhetoric: Do you feel with a band like Sirenia, there’s no middle ground? As in, people either really like the band, or don’t care much for you at all?

Veland: Yes, as a metal band I think we are quite different than the others bands out there. With the previous three albums I think we might got a little bit too soft for the guys that are into more extreme metal. On the other hand we got too heavy for the guys into more mainstream kind of music. But we have a loyal following of fans that stick with us. I also feel confident that the new album will be well-received among our fans. As the new album is much harder than before, it might appeal stronger to the general metal crowd as well. The future will tell, I suppose.

Dead Rhetoric: So far, what would you say your biggest success is? Is it The 13th Floor, or the debut?

Veland: The debut was a bigger success in terms of sales. But back then everything was different, the previous generation were more into buying albums, while today a big amount of the kids prefer downloading rather than buying the albums. Times are changing, but I am old-school and have a big CD collection at home. I always buy the CDs, I am not into the downloading, I want to whole package with cover, booklet etc., etc. I really respect guys who truly support their favorite bands and buy their stuff. It’s these guys that keep music alive.

Dead Rhetoric: The number of female-fronted type of bands has grown over the years. At what point do you think it will become more than a novelty and finally, something of substance?

Veland: Well, I don’t think I have a good answer to this question. He-he.

Dead Rhetoric: The band’s image and/or appearance has always been top-notch. Is that something you take seriously? Is it as important as the music to you?

Veland: I think it is important to have like a concept, where everything that has to do with the band must match up. It is important with some kind of concept I would say. But we are not the kind of band that takes it to extreme lengths. The music is like the main focus in Sirenia.

Dead Rhetoric: Has the songwriting process changed over the years, or are you still steering the ship?

Veland: I compose all the music for Sirenia and have always done so. The others can come with inputs and give me feedback on the stuff I write, and then I can make adjustments according to that. As when we record vocals me and Ailyn work together to make sure that all the vocal melodies are adapted perfectly to her voice. Most of the times the idea works great from the start, but sometimes there is need for adjustments to make it perfect.

Dead Rhetoric: How much do the other band members get involved with the actual recording of the album? Or do you prefer to do most of it yourself?

Veland: As I compose all the music, it always felt natural for me to perform it on the album as well. Jonathan played drums on our third album though, but that’s the only exception in addition to some session violinplayers. Everything else was performed by me over the years.

Dead Rhetoric: Perils of the Deep Blue is your third album with Ailyn. In what ways has your working relationship grown with her over the years?

Veland: I am very happy with the lineup in Sirenia these days. All of us get along very well and we share the same kind of taste for music, all of us are very open-minded when it comes to music. I think that Ailyn has improved her singing a lot since she joined the band. And after working together for quite some years now, I know her voice and her abilities better. This enables me to compose music that works very well with her voice.

Dead Rhetoric: “Stille Kom Døden” is one of the album’s biggest triumphs and one of your best songs to date. What’s the story behind it?

Veland: It is also a favourite of mine on the album. I been thinking about writing something in Norwegian for a long time, and with this album I finally made it happen. This song is about 13 minutes long, which makes it the longest song I ever wrote. Although the song is very long, I never feel that it gets boring along the way, there is so many different things going on in that song. I never set out to write a very long song, it just happened that way. I was constantly coming up with new ideas for the song and so it developed into a big opus.

Dead Rhetoric: There’s a good amount of catchy, immediate songs like “My Destiny Coming to Pass” and “The Funeral March.” Do you find it more satisfying to write something simple and to the point, or something really elaborate and epic like “Stille Kom Døden?”

Veland: I really like both things, I love variation in my work. Our previous three albums were somewhat more down to the point, shorter songs with simpler arrangements. This time it felt great to return to writing long songs with more complex arrangements and big orchestrations.

Dead Rhetoric: What are your touring plans looking like this year?

Veland: We’ve put touring on hold for awhile in order to focus 100% on the album. Now that the album is finally completed we are eager to start touring again. We will hit the road this autumn. We already announced some shows on our website and more shows will be announced soon.

Dead Rhetoric: Finally, what’s on the agenda for the rest of 2013?

Veland: The rest of the year will spin around touring and promoting the new album.

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