THE SIRENS live at Metal Female Voices Fest 2014 in Wieze (Belgium)

20 years ago, thus way back in 1994, the Norwegian band The 3rd And The Mortal released their debut album “Tears Laid In Earth” which I still consider the best atmospheric Doom Metal album. To my knowledge, it was also the first metal album to only feature clean female vocals, later on also referred to as “heavenly female voices“. (Some male-fronted metal bands had been experimenting with this type of vocals already earlier, but only on single songs or – as in the case of Paradise Lost – in combination with harsh male vocals.) Already a bit earlier, The 3rd And The Mortal had released their debut EP “Sorrow”, whose music was in the same vein as on their debut album and also featured the beautiful clean voice of Kari Rueslåtten. But it wasn’t before October 18th, 2014, 20 years and 13 days after I had bought “Tears Laid In Earth”, that I finally got the chance to hear 3 songs from that album, including my absolute fave “Death-Hymn”, performed live by the original singer Kari Rueslåtten. This was probably also due to the fact that Kari had left the band already in 1995 to start a solo-career which had absolutely nothing to do with metal.

I never might have heard any of the songs from The 3rd And The Mortal’s debut album live sung by Kari Rueslåtten, if she hadn’t somehow gotten into contact with Leaves’ Eyes- and former Theatre of Tragedy-vocalist Liv Kristine and former The Gathering-singer Anneke van Giersbergen a while ago and all three of them had started planning to do something together, which eventually became a project called The Sirens. I have to admit that I have never been a big fan of Theatre of Tragedy, because in addition to Liv’s clean female vocals, they also featured male growling, something I still can’t stand today, whereas I liked The Gathering with Anneke on vocals right from the beginning, thus the release of “Mandylion” in 1995, and got the chance to see and hear them live for the first time already about 19 years ago, on December 29th, 1995, to be precise.

I’ve been attending the Metal Female Voices Fest nearly each year since 2004, though in the past years mostly as some kind of habit and not because of the bands performing there (with a few exceptions here and there). When this year’s line-up already looked rather bleak for me, The Sirens were one of the last acts to be announced. When I read that they would play also some “old stuff” of their former bands, I thought that this might turn out to be the most interesting act for me and I was not mistaken.

I’m tempted to say that hearing “Death-Hymn” with Kari Rueslåtten on vocals alone was worth the trip to this festival (in spite of the fact that the live version was about two minutes shorter than the album version) – Kari’s vocals live sounded as clear and beautiful as they did 20 years ago on the album version of this song. The same applies to the other two songs from “Tears Laid In Earth” which were played at this festival, namely “Autopoéma” (often misspelled – like on the backside of the original album cover – as “Atupoéma”) and “Why So Lonely”, the latter being performed as a duet with Anneke van Giersbergen. For me, these three songs were the absolute highlights of this year’s Metal Female Voices Fest, followed by Anneke’s performance of “Strange Machines” and “In Motion #1” – the latter as a duet with Kari – from The Gathering’s album “Mandylion”.

The entire The Sirens-concert lasted about 75 minutes and the setlist was therefore somewhat shorter than on the other concerts they played on their mini-tour. (I found e.g. a setlist of their very first concert in Bonn which included 20 songs in total.) In addition to the songs mentioned explicitly above, some old songs by Theatre of Tragedy were performed as well as songs from the solo-albums of Liv, Anneke and Kari and one out of two new songs which were written for this project. People interested in the entire setlist will surely find it somewhere on the net as well as live-clips from this performance as well as the other concerts they played. The singers were accompanied by Anneke’s band.

I was also lucky to get the chance to say hello to Anneke and Kari during their signing-session (Liv wasn’t there because of a photo-shooting – and maybe also because she was headlining with her own band Leaves’ Eyes later on the same night) – both seem to be very kind and nice persons. Funny side-note: When Kari saw my t-shirt, she wanted to take a picture of me with her mobile-phone (which she did). A new experience for me, because usually I’m the one who wants to take pictures of his favourite singers and not the other way round.

– Burkhard – November 2014

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