Though there are a wealth of female fronted symphonic metal acts on the international scene these days, one that has consistently delivered quality music over the years is Norwegian act Sirenia. With a brand new CD, Perils of the Deep Blue, out now on Nuclear Blast Records, and for once a solid line-up fronted by the angelic Ailyn, the band seems poised to take the world by storm. Founding member & guitarist Morten Veland spoke to Sea of Tranquility Publisher Pete Pardo about the stunning new album, touring plans for 2013, and much more!
SoT: 'Perils of the Deep Blue' seems like a real return to form for the band, as it dips back into some of the trademark sounds that got Sirenia off the ground when the band was first put together. How do you feel about the way the album came out?
Morten: I feel great about the album. I really feel that we were able to achieve what we wanted to achieve with Perils of the deep blue. We wanted to make an album that sounded different than the previous ones, we also wanted to make it the most powerful Sirenia album ever. I also feel that all the performances have improved and we have been able to take the band to the next level.
SoT: Ailyn seems like she has really come into her own here-can you talk about how she came to join the band, and if she feels her confidence level at fronting this band is finally where it needs to be?
Morten: I think she joined the band in 2008 or so, she was pick out of about 500 singers from all parts of the world. This is the third album that Ailyn records with the band, and she has been a part of the band for quite some years now. I think that she has worked hard and improved a lot during these years, gaining more and more experience.
SoT: Can you talk about some of the lyrical concepts that went behind the songs that make up 'Perils of the Deep Blue'?
Morten: More or less I still write about the same kind of stuff that I always wrote about. For me it is more about finding new angles and ways of expressing myself these days. Some of the lyrics are very story-like this time. I have also written two songs in Norwegian, which is the first time for Sirenia. So I feel that I have been able to renew myself with lyrics this time, even though I am still focusing on familiar themes in terms of my career.
SoT: Your death metal growls, always an important part of the bands earlier albums, seemed to disappear somewhat on the last few releases, but make a comeback here. What prompted the decision to feature them more on the new album?
Morten: I came to a point where I was missing some of the extreme elements that played a bigger role in the early days. After writing 3 albums where I left out most of the elements from the more extreme metal genres and were focusing more on the melodic aspects, it felt right to bring that stuff back into our sound again. Now it feels great to have that stuff back again, it feels kind of fresh again after all these years.
SoT: The mixing of those death metal growls with soaring female vocals is a style that's been used by many bands over the years, but there is something about Ailyn & yourself working together that makes this match-up magical. How do you think Sirenia's style is different from say a Epica, Tristania, After Forever, etc.?
Morten: I think that Sirenia has way more quality and originality to our music. Tristania's two first albums were great, but things fell apart after me and Vibeke left. Haha. The other bands lack integrity and originality. I never cared too much for bands who tried to make a career out of copying other bands.
SoT: There's a wealth of different keyboard sounds on the album-can you talk about what instruments were used to create such rich sounds, and also perhaps mention how you get those wonderful vocal choir passages?
Morten: I always spend a lot of time with the keyboard sounds. I try to avoid the original presets that everybody else is using. I do a lot of editing and build layers and so on, in order to create a rich and diverse sound. I also put a lot of time into the choir parts, I compose and arrange everything myself. I see a lot of other bands trying to copy that by having a classical cunductor or whatever putting together some choir parts and it all sounds the same. I never had any musical education, I learned everything by myself, that's why I do stuff different from the others.
SoT: This line-up of the band has now been together for a bit-how important is it these days to have a solid line-up, especially for not only studio recordings, but especially for live shows?
Morten: It is a great advantage to have a steady line-up. It is very good for the feeling in the band, the social aspect. But it is also saving a lot of work. Looking for new bandmembers, learning them songs and rehearsing until they become and intergrated part of the band is a time consuming prosess. By having a steady lineup we have more time for composing and touring and doing other stuff that is important for a band.
Sot: Speaking of live shows, does the band have any touring plans for 2013?
Morten: We will start touring again this autumn. We have had a break from touring now, to be able to put 100% into the new album. Now we are eager to start touring again, it will be awesome to perform the new material live. We already set up a mini tour in Russia, and more shows will be announced soon.
SoT: The new CD has some really strong songs, "Seven Windows Deep", "Darkling", "My Destiny Coming to Pass", "Profound Scars", and "Stille Kom Døden" being a few of my favorites. What are some of the bands favorite tunes on the CD, and have any been picked yet for possible addition to your live setlist?
Morten: All of the songs are favourites in my opinion. Hehe. But I agree with your choices, I think that all of them are strong material.We did not set up the setlist yet, it is something that I am looking forward to. It will be very cool to perform the new songs live, as they are so energetic and powerful.
SoT: Has there been any talk of bringing the band to the US?
Morten: It is something that we wanted for a long time, but it always seemd difficult to make it happen. I think in general the biggest interest for this kind of music was in Europe and South- and Central America. It seems as our fanbase in the US has been growing over the years though, so I really hope it will be possible to come over and make some shows there soon.
SoT: What are some of the current bands today that you are following?
Morten: I spend all my time on composing these days, so I hardly have any time to listen to music anymore. The only time I have time to listen to music is in my car, while I'm driving. Hehe. Right now I got Lana del Rey in my stereo. I am very openminded when it comes to music, I listen to all kinds of genres. I am also a huge Johnny Cash fan. I can listen to everything from pop music to black metal. The diversity also shows in Sirenia, our musical concept was always about blending all kinds of musical styles with metal.
SoT: That's some wonderful artwork on the cover of 'Perils of the Deep Blue'-who did you pick for the cover, and how happy is the band with the results?
Morten: The cover artwork was done by Anne Stokes. I think it is an amazing pice of art, I came across it on the internet when I was just surfing around. My first thought was that this artwork would be perfect as a cover for our new album. I was thrilled when we got the permissions to use the artwork, I think it is the perfect artwork for our band and our music. The artwork represents a lot of the themes and subjects from the album. It is the first time it happened this way, in the past we always hired a designer to make a cover based on the album title, the music and photo material.
SoT: Thanks again for taking the time to conduct this interview-anything additional you'd like to say to our readers and your fans?
Morten: Cheers to our fans overseas, we hope to see you on tour soon. Cheers!
(Click here to read our review of Perils of the Deep Blue)