With it’s seventh album released, Sirenia has delivered another very solid album. ‘The Seventh Life Path’ is the latest work by the mastermind Morten Veland. Overall Loudness talked to him about the new album, about the numerology in the title. And also, what does a band have to do to get on top of it’s competition nowadays?
How has Sirenia been doing, now that the new album is out?
“Yeah, we’re doing fine! The album has been out for about two weeks, I think. We already got reviews coming in and most of it has been really great. Of course we also expected a little bit mixed reactions, because with this album we musically went back to the roots a bit. It’s the most heavy and dark Sirenia album to date, I think. Maybe not all of the fans were expecting that, but sometimes that is a risk that you have to take.
The most important thing is that I can write the music that I want to write. You know, after releasing three albums that were very melodic and catchy and based on simpler song structures and catchier melodies. I just felt the strong need to make some changes to the formula again and with the previous album I already began introducing some of the older elements. Writing longer songs again, more intriguing arrangements.
On the new album, ‘The Seventh Life Path’, I wanted to go further into that direction that I set out. It’s even darker and heavier than all other albums. For some fans it could also feel like it is less successive to the last album. This new album is a typical album that the listener has to give some time and listen to it several times. I definitely feel that the record will grow on the listener, that it will catch up on the details and get under the listener’s skin. It’s not the typical album that you get into on the first spin.”
You say that you went back to Sirenia’s roots on this album, is that also the reason you went back to Napalm Records?
“Well, we went a little bit back to the roots. I didn’t want to make an album that was like ‘Sixes & Sevens’ part two, or something. I wanted to put more focus on some of those elements that we used more in the past, but in a renewed and modern kind of way. Like a mixture of the old Sirenia and the new Sirenia, in a kind of way. It was my intention to make an album that was really dark and heavy and quite different from anything we did so far.
When it comes to the changing of the label, we have been signed with Nuclear Blast for four albums. With ‘Perils Of The Deep Blue’ we have completed that contract, so we have been negotiating with other companies as well. In the end we thought that Napalm Records could offer the best terms for Sirenia at this point. So we decided to work with Napalm now.”
“It was my intention to make an album that was really dark and heavy
and quite different from anything we did so far.”
Your new album ‘The Seventh Life Path’ is also your seventh record. Is that something that you did deliberately?
“Yeah, I was thinking that this was the seventh album and I wanted to do something with an album title that would be reflecting that fact. Numerology has always been present in my lyrics and Sirenia’s work so it felt very logical to do something around that. So that is how I started searching and thinking for a possible title for the album. In the end I decided to choose ‘The Seventh Life Path’ as the title for this new record.”
When you do a little research about you and Sirenia, one thing that really stands out is that you are the “mastermind” behind the band. So could you take us through the writing of this album?
“The writing process was more or less the same as it has been from the beginning. I’m used to composing the music when I’m alone. For me it’s important to be in a certain mode to compose good music. I feel that the ideas get more personal, more honest and it gets something deeper to it.
I have tried to write music with other musicians, but when you are with a lot of different people you have, of course, to be social and interact with them. It leads the focus away from the music and it’s very hard to get into that special mood that I need to be in to deliver my best as a composer. The last fifteen years I’ve been writing music on my own.”
“For me it’s important to be in a certain mode to compose good music”
And for the recording you recruit the rest of the musicians?
“For the recording of the albums I’m actually also playing all the instruments (laughs). But we always spent quite some time with Ailyn (vocals) to focus on the recording of her parts. I always prepare her lyrics and melodies and towards the end of the process we come together with all the ideas that I have. We make some test recordings to check if everything sounds okay. If there is something that we’re not happy with than we sit down and form it to her voice. That way we can mold it onto her voice and make a result that we can all be satisfied with. So we do that for all her parts.
At that point we have a demo of how the songs should be and we can listen to that for some weeks. Then we can change some things and also a couple of new ideas pop up. After that period we go into the studio and we make the final recordings for the album. Everything will be recorded perfectly then and make sure it all sounds the way it has to sound for a final recording.”
There have been quite a few female fronted/symphonic metal bands that have released albums lately. What is the essence of Sirenia that makes it able to compete with all these other bands?
“Yeah, these days there certainly is a lot of competition, for sure. I think it’s important to make a strong product. It needs to be strong in all the aspects. You need to have good ideas for songs and originally has always been important. Sirenia is, or most of it is, based on blending a lot of elements from a lot of different musical styles. I consider Sirenia a metal band, but we use a lot of elements of rock music, classic rock, gothic rock, some classical music. Also a lot of different a lot of vocal styles, the female vocals, male vocals, clean and grunting vocals and so on. All kinds of musical styles that I like blend together as a concept.
I think it’s important to play well, to have a good production and a good cover art. You really need to put a lot of time and energy into the music today and to stand apart from the rest. There are so many bands these days that it becomes very difficult to do something special and unique. We have been in this game for some years now, we are celebrating our fifteenth anniversary next year. It’s quite a bit of experience that helps us, but it also makes it hard. You need to maintain that passion over the years.
“Sirenia is, or most of it is, based on blending a lot of elements
from a lot of different musical styles”
Luckily I have never seen music as work, it has always been my passion in life, what I really love spending my time on. Putting years and years and hours and hours of work into it is something I do with a smile on my face, because they are hours invested in what I love to do. If a band comes to the stage in their career in which they feel like it is all work, what they have to do to make a living. That is when the downfall starts.”
You spent almost three times as much time, and many more albums, with Sirenia than with your previous band Tristania. Have you ever had the urge to start again with something new?
“Sometimes I get musical ideas and make songs that don’t really fit into the Sirenia concept. I really love composing and I write a lot of music. Some years back I started a solo-project called Mortemia with which I released some stuff that is a little bit different to Sirenia. Not like a totally different world, musically, but at least something different.
I also write music in a lot of other kinds of styles and if I find the time in the future there could be a release. To me it’s mostly about the time, you see. Sirenia has my main focus, but if there comes time in the future where I can put these musical ideas to life, I will definitely do that. I had some moments that I could write some other things or, sometimes, after working a lot with Sirenia I can reach that point that, musically, I start to repeat myself. Then I take a break and try to find a new inspiration and motivation. Those times I will take a break from songwriting and I just work with different things. Afterwards I get back to Sirenia again, with a fresh mind and new ideas.”
‘The Seventh Life Path’ has an amazingly beautiful artwork. Can you tell us something about it?
“The artwork was done by a guy called Gyula Havancsák and I think he has done a brilliant job. It was actually the record company that put us in touch, they thought it would be a good idea to let him do the cover artwork. They send me some links of some of his former work and I really liked what he had done before. I thought that this could be the one to do our cover artwork.
We got in touch and I just presented some basic ideas that I had in mind at that time. He just started working on top of that, adding more ideas of his own. We mailed back and forth, sharing some ideas. I think he put together an album cover that really represents what we stand for musically. For me, when I look at it, that triggers some feelings that I also get when I listen to the album. He really did a perfect job. Also, for a lot of listeners their first encounter with this album could be the cover artwork. That is why it’s so important that the artwork is reflects the musical style as well.”
Longer and somewhat more complex tracks and a brilliant album cover. They could be signs of a greater theme in this genre of music. Is this a concept album?
“All the songs are individual stories, but some of the songs also have some similarities or they might touch in subjects. It’s definitely not what I would consider a typical concept album. Their all individual songs.”
Have you never thought about making a concept album, like one big opera?
“I haven’t really thought about that, no. I think with Sirenia we have the opera elements present with the choirs. As I mentioned before, one of the most typical things for Sirenia is the variety and mix in the music and with all kinds of different elements. If we would make a typical opera album, we would step a bit too far away from our own musical concept. We could also step into some concept that holds hundreds of bands already. If I would do something like that I would have to do that with a side project or something.”
“You should be able to reach out to the people and social media seems
to get more and more important for promoting yourself”
When I looked at Sirenia’s Facebook page, I saw that you posted a picture, or an announcement every day. How important is social media for a band these days?
“Social media seems to be getting more and more important. I’m kind of an old-school guy, so I remember when I started it was all about the magazines and the fanzines. The internet wasn’t even invented yet, or maybe it was, but no one was using it. These days the internet is just becoming more and more important. It’s important for the bands to adapt to the situation and to keep up the pace. You should be able to reach out to the people and social media seems to get more and more important for promoting yourself. To reach out to your fans and possible new fans.
I like the way of working with both. Social media and magazines are both interesting to promote yourself with. It’s very cool to walk into a store and see yourself featured on a certain magazine, you know?”
‘The Seventh Life Path’ is out now through Napalm Records