Released: 2008, Blistering Records
Reviewer: Kyle Moore, the Metal Magnus
Gothic metal generally isn’t my thing – between cheesy keyboards, ugly goth chicks, and that irrational obsession with all things vampiric, there usually isn’t much to enjoy unless you’re a regular at Hot Topic. Therefore I’ll be clear; though classified as “gothic,” Siebenbürgen doesn’t sound anything like a stereotypical goth metal band. That’s partially because their style is an even meld of symphonic black metal and melodic power metal. If you ever wondered what a combination of Dimmu Borgir, Nightwish, Cradle of Filth, and Epica would sound like, Sweden’s Siebenbürgen is as definitive answer as could exist.
Were there a more exact way to describe Siebenbürgen’s music beyond lamely stating “they sound like four disparate bands put together,” then I would attempt to be more original. But take raspy, frog-croak vocals in the vein of Abbath and Shagrath, add in rollicking double-kicks & occasional blastbeats, predictable female vocals, epic keyboard passages, symphonic musical texture, & melodic guitars, and a portmanteau of metal is exactly what you get.
Ultra-cheesy lyrics about pregnant demons and cleansing dragonfire aside, Siebenbürgen sure knows how to write damn good songs. “Infernaliia” seamlessly transitions from catchy guitar melodies to a zippy blastbeat chorus with a nice female harmony that nearly invokes a singalong (or croakalong if you follow the male vocal.) My personal favorite track is “Revelation VI,” which opens with an awesome headbanging groovy riff atop a power metalish keyboard harmony. The guitar-work throughout this particular song is exceptional. “The Soulless” has ‘perfect epic black metal’ track written all over it, with suitably evil opening riffs and eerie keyboards smoothly passing to an epic blastbeat pre-chorus section that perfectly suits Lisa Bohwalli’s vocal harmonies. Songs like these are the ones that stay stuck in one’s head for weeks on end.
However, there are other tracks (or at least fragments of tracks) that sound a little too much like the work of other bands. Halfway through “After the Wolf,” there’s a bridgelike section that sounds exactly like something early Immortal would have written (complete with a very Abbath-esque croak.) Parts of that particular track also sound similar to Cradle of Filth’s middle period. Also, Mr. Ehlin’s raspy black metal vocal seems excessively harsh for the kind of atmosphere created by Siebenbürgen’s mostly excellent songs. And Ms. Bohwalli’s voice is just too lackluster – I have faith that there are numerous willing women at a local music conservatory who could surpass her limited talents without much effort.
I feel like Siebenbürgen is on something of a cusp – they already have the technical skill and songwriting mettle to write numerous awesome & memorable songs. It’s clear that they’ve uncovered a solid foundation for a unique metal sound, but they haven’t quite finished moving away from other bands that have thus far inspired their music. With a stronger female counterpart and further defined songs, Siebenbürgen could open up a lot of roads towards creating a truly special metal record.