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SIREN- Iron Coffins Demo Tape (selfproduced, USA, 1985)

Siren_iron_coffins_DemoSiren_insert1Siren_insert2Siren_iron_coffins_cassetteSome bands are just better than others. Whatever it is – musicianship, talent, power, a good hand at composing – some bands will forever have something that others don’t. SIREN from Brandon / Florida was one of these bands.
If memory serves, I first heard about them from Thomas Schumacher, editor of one of the 80s best and most influential underground fanzines, “Metal Prophecy”. Thomas belonged to the rare species of free thinkers within the Metal underground and was a character of his own. When the Crossover – , Thrash – and Death Metal thing started to roll over the scene and seemed to create a wave of mediocre soundalikes, he had the idea of proving his assumption, that some fanzines would only too quickly jump on the bandwagon of the louder-faster-formula. He recorded DISCHARGE’s “Hear nothing” LP on 45 rpm onto blank tapes, made up a band name (which unfortunately I have forgotten), a demo cover and sent the cassette to some ‘zines, just to see what the reaction would be like. Well, more than one of these fanzines gave the “demo” a favorable review, much to Thomas’ bitter delight.

One of the bands he totally adored was SIREN. And no wonder he did! So I didn’t hesitate and ordered this demo tape and a stack of the band’s vinyl debut, the formidable «Metro Mercenary» 7″, from singer Doug Lee. The kind of music SIREN played had and has something rather eccentric to it. In the 80s, especially in the Metal underground, you’d find a lot of musical deviance from the norm. A new wind that was initiated by the worldwide success of the NWOBHM, inspired a lot of bands to coin their own musical style – in fact, when I look back, it sometimes would seem to me that almost every band with a release had a sound of its own back then. There were little norms, studios weren’t specialised in creating a Metal sound and a lot of important steps like sound production were still in the hands of either studio owners (many of them coming from the 70s and with a wide musical background) or the bands themselves. Regional traditions or specialities played an important role too: People were close, shared musicians or rehearsal spaces, the scene was sealed off from the rest of the music business and from the rest of the world especially.

These were all factors that were responsible for a band like SIREN to come up with a style so unique. I can’t say where they drew their influences from or what their perspective or goal was with their music, but it certainly wasn’t bound to be commercially successful. Maybe that’s easy to say from the outside and looking back, but the band’s slow fall into oblivion proves this right. The title song “Iron Coffins” opens up with the sound of an underwater radar and as soon as the melancholic riffing and the almost apathetic singing of Doug comes in, the walls seem to close around me. What a perfect song! How claustrophic and tense! And “Shadow of a future Past” just goes on from there. There’s still a bit of a naivety shining through – no, this is not “perfect” and that’s just what makes it so irrestibly grandiose. Ambitious yet accessible, with a good drummer and some highly memorable lead guitar harmonies, while Doug is somewhere out in space singing. “Before the Storm” is maybe a bit more traditional sounding, with a strong NWOBHM influence and a good rock feeling. “Over the Rainbow”, the final song, again is a complete smasher, drawing much of its tension from the two poles the singer and the guitarist are spanning.
Some bands are just better than others.

If you had mp3 files of this on your computer already, delete them now. You will not have heard the demo in this quality offered here.

Iron Coffins.mp3
Shadow of a future Past.mp3
Before the Storm.mp3

Over the Rainbow.mp3

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