The Enigma of Life, the fifth studio album from Norwegian symphonic goth metallers Sirenia, has plenty to entertain both the diehard fan and the newcomer to their music. Their second complete record with singer Aylin, it's poppier then previous albums, suggesting Abba gone metal mixed with The Omen soundtrack. The standout track is "Fallen Angel," which boasts a chorus catchy enough to stay in your head for days.
But in a world filled with metal bands fronted by women with wispy voices, Sirenia is forced to compete with powerhouses like We Are The Fallen and Nightwish, and The Enigma of Life is likely to get lost in the shuffle. Part of the problem is guitarist-composer Morten Vreland's growly vocals, which grow tedious by fifth track, "Twilight in Your Eyes." Furthermore, there's a certain lack of chemistry apparent between Aylin and Vreland in the way that the music doesn't always suit the frontwoman's vocals and vice versa. Beautiful and symphonic as ever, the music alone has the ability to transport the listener: "All of These Dreams" is a prime example of a brilliant orchestral piece of epic metal unfortunately undone by singing that just doesn't quite fit. Sirenia might follow the lead of Apocalyptica as far as leaving vocals out every now and again. Or perhaps, after working together for a few more albums, Vreland and Aylin will figure out the enigma of their musical relationship. SARAH B. KOENIG