SIREN - Back From The Dead

Siren - Back From The Dead

14 songs
63:56 minutes
***** ****


It often happens that once popular bands try a comeback, and often money is the motivation, and the result is lacklustre at best. And then you stumble at times across bands that used to have a following in the underground but never made it to the top. When such bands all of a sudden resurface, the motivation is usually an idealism to relive the old times, and the results consequently have this nostalgic quality that especially their old fans are yearning for.

Florida metal band Siren has its origins forty years in the past. Their debut album No Place Like Home came out in 1986, followed three years later by Financial Suicide. The former was quite a classic piece of heavy metal, while the latter, recorded by vocalist Doug Lee joined by a completely new line-up, veered into the technical speed metal vogue of that time. Then Siren went on hiatus, Doug Lee joined German prog metal gods Mekong Delta and recorded three albums with them in the first half of the Nineties, and that was that.

Cue to 2020, and all of a sudden Siren are back with their comeback album Back From The Dead. The line-up consists of course of Doug Lee on vocals, bassist Gregg Culbertson who played on the debut album, guitarist Hal Dunn and drummer Ed Aborn who were very early members and left before the first album. Todd Grubbs also plays guitar and is relatively new to the band but is in the same age group as the other musicians.

Back From The Dead is more No Place Like Home than Financial Suicide, although it does manage to stand on its own merits. The sound is rather classic melodic US power metal, with the band taking inspiration from metal pioneers like Iron Maiden, Accept and Judas Priest, but in the end still sounding quite American. The joining of their European influences with their American lifestyle makes for a quite tasteful hybrid. The album contains fourteen tracks, and at a little over an hour I believe it is a little too long for its own good. A shorter album might have been a more direct punch in your face, but I understand of course that after over thirty years of not recording together, a lot of material must have come together.

The album starts with the speed metal bomb S-Blade Serenade, and just like that I feel transported back to the mid- to late-eighties. Doug Leeís voice is maybe not as high-pitched as it used to be, but his matured voice also has a lot to give, reminding me more than once of Dave Mustaine. The music is fast-paced and of course much more powerfully produced than their earlier albums. Fuel Injected Suicide is another brisk metal attack, and while the lyrics donít seem to be overly intellectual, they perfectly match the directness of the music. Science Fiction Movie has all the charms of a mid-eighties horror movie on a wobbly VHS tape, and while Alice Cooper may be the eternal godfather of that genre, Siren show that they manage it quite adeptly too. So the band put its best material right at the beginning of the album, but you wonít find any forgettable pieces on Back From The Dead. There are further highlights, like the quite progressive Insomnia with a chorus that takes advantage from harmonic backing vocals, or Watch Us Fly and Treason, both of which are relentless classic heavy metal tracks that few other bands could deliver quite like that.

What I appreciate most on Back From The Dead is how the band works hard to make all of the songs memorable with great melodies and catchy hooks. The music is flawless too, much better than one would have expected after a three-decade long break. Doug Leeís vocals have matured gracefully. So maybe the lyrics wonít win a Pulitzer, and a few songs less would have made the album more compact and powerful, and yet this is one of the best comeback from a band I had already written off. Thanks to their loyal fans from way back when, Siren have decided for a second Spring, and what a successful one it is!

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