At Sixes and Sevens is the first album by gothic metal band Sirenia, the band Morten Veland formed after leaving Tristania.
It follows many of the same conventions of Tristania’s first two albums.
- Three vocalists: a growler, a female, and a clean male vocalist.
- Pete Johansen’s violin solos
- Some older language
- Sexy guitars, both electric and acoustic
- A soft, mysterious closing song
While At Sixes and Sevens doesn’t exactly break the mold, it accentuates different aspects of the formula, creating a fresh sound.
The album has more of a bite to it with its heavier emphasis on the drums and guitar. But it has more catchy songs that remind a lot of “Angellore” from Tristania’s first album, like “Sister Nightfall”, “In a Manica”, and “A Shadow of Your Own Self”.
Fabienne Gondamin, the female vocalist, doesn’t sound like she’s from an opera and is given more emotional range on this album from despairing angel to seductress. She even carries “In Sumerian Haze” all on her own. It’s a shame she didn’t stay for more than one album and wasn’t actually ever part of the band. She’s my second favorite Sirenia vocalist.
There’s more clean male vocals, which I like. The male singers [there’s two] balance Gondamin nicely, and I especially like when one sings more back-up to her like in the chorus of “Sister Nightfall”.
The first two minutes of “Meridian” are a great album opener; they hit you hard like a brick. Veland sounds like a monster, and the choirs, violins, and keyboards take you for a whirlwind. While I love the whole song, I do feel it loses its punch as it goes on. But I only notice it because the opening is just THAT good.
“Sister Nightfall” and “In a Manica” are tied for my favorite song on the album. They both begin with a melodic opening and guitar melody that I want to dance to whenever I hear them. Their choruses are some of the catchiest of the album, and they make good use of all the vocalists. “Sister Nightfall” takes the cake for being the sexier of the two, but “In a Manica” has the stronger chorus.
The chorus of “On the Wane” isn’t my favorite, but the dynamic in the verses between the female and male vocalists makes up for it. It reminds of “Lost” by Tristania from World of Glass. I also like the line “You are the treason-reflecting eyes/You are the darkness that sets in every light.”
The title track of “At Sixes of Sevens” has the same slow, march-y feel as “. . .Of Ruins and A Red Nightfall”. Veland’s growls are the main star of the song, and he sounds great. The distortions he uses in moments make his voice sound even more sinister.
“Lethargica” and “A Shadow of Your Own Self” are also insanely catchy. The clean male vocals are allowed to shine. I love the contrast between the male vocalist and Gondamin as they sing different lines simultaneously in “A Shadow of Your Own Self”. And these songs have some of my favorite lyrics like “Wake now sister for times to come/In a run towards the pantheon” and “Say. . .would you never walk away/On the break of a coming day/Would you end this line with me”. Though I think “You concede the pain is nonpareil” from “Lethargica” is an awkwardly phrased line.
In “Manic Aeon”, Gondamin croons some of her creepiest vocals. As she sings “deranged am I?”, she really sounds like she’s not all mentally there. The sexy guitar melody drives behind Veland’s vocals but gives way to an acoustic guitar when Gondamin sings.
While Gondamin has some awesome parts in “In Sumerian Haze”, Pete Johansen’s violin solo, especially at the end, steals the show. It cries the ecstasy of sorrow, hope, and torment, falling from high whines to low groans. Just listen to it, for heaven’s sakes! It’s beautiful. It’s the best violin solo on the album though the ones in “On the Wane” and “Manic Aeon” are also great.
Words/phrases Morten Veland overuses in this album:
- Cope for. . .
No band has been able to replicate the sound of early Tristania and Sirenia; they perfectly balance lush textures, heavy beats, and a catchy groove all while maintaining a beautifully dark and poetic atmosphere. And At Sixes and Sevens perfects this sound.