SIREN — No Place like Home (review)

SIREN — No Place like Home album cover Album · 1986 · Progressive Metal Buy this album from MMA partners
4.5/5 ·
Obscure, Forgotten and Otherwise Hard to Find Metal Albums #6

When one thinks about the early days of progressive metal (meaning the mid to late eighties) there are probably a few groups who will come to mind first. Dream Theater. Fates Warning. Watchtower. Crimson Glory. Queensrÿche. All of them should never have their impact on progressive metal understated, though most of them actually belonged more to US power metal in their early days (Watchtower to thrash metal), even if they later become fully fledged progressive metal bands. But did you know that there were other young bands out there back then trying to bring the influence of progressive rock into heavy metal? Sure, you probably at least assumed as much, but can you name any of them? That would be the bigger question.

The latest entry in my Obscure, Forgotten and Otherwise Hard to Find Metal Albums review series is going to focus on one such band/album – US act Siren and their debut album No Place Like Home (1986). At least one of the songs on this album, Terrible Swift Sword, dates back a single Siren released in 1984. 1984! I have not found one reference to anything being called progressive metal before that year, only in that year (such as the Watcher demo Meltdown). Yet more songs were first on the EP Iron Coffins (1985), the same year that Fates Warning released The Spectre Within, making it clear to me that Siren were one of the first to try to bring prog in metal, before some others who got the breaks to become better known acts, more likely to be credited with doing what Siren were doing before some of them. The thing is until I recently stumbled upon a reference to Siren I had never heard of these guys.

You see Siren never had the success or long career of the likes of Dream Theater or Fates Warning, No Place Like Home being the first of two full-length albums (the other is Financial Suicide (1988)). They may in fact be more notable today, in 2016, not because of their early contributions towards making progressive metal a fully fledged genre, but because their vocalist was Doug Lee, who after Siren went on to have a stint with the much more well known progressive/thrash metal act Mekong Delta, singing on three of their albums before parting ways with the band in 1997.

No Place Like Home doesn't seem to have ever got an official reissue in the last thirty years since its release by a now defunct record label called Flametrader, who put it out on vinyl (of which copies do turn up on ebay at not too high prices). That's really sad, as having recently discovered the record I think these guys had all the makings to be just as popular as any of the early progressive metal acts that did make it. But you know what I'm hopeful that it may happen one day. One of my earlier entries in this review series was for Matthias Steele's Haunting Tales Of A Warrior's Past (1991), originally only available on cassette tape and at the time of writing that review it was a seemingly forgotten album. Now it is out on CD for the first time thanks to Minotauro Records who also put the group's comeback album Resurrection (2007) properly on the market and the band even have a new album out in Question of Divinity (2016). So anything can happen and if there's another album out there that should be given the chance to return to the market it's Siren's No Place Like Home. Not only is this a high quality release, but it's historical importance shouldn't be overlooked either. You can't claim to have a knowledge of the early years of progressive metal if you haven't heard this.

Like several others such as Fates Warning and Crimson Glory, Siren have more than a toe in the camps of traditional heavy metal and US power metal on No Place Like Home, but I think that perhaps a little more than their successful counterparts Siren were wearing their progressive influence on their sleeves. Of course none of the music here or that released by Fates Warning, Crimson Glory and even Queensrÿche (I haven't actually heard the aforementioned Watchtower myself as yet, nor Queensrÿche's Operation: Mindcrime) at the time was that progressive compared to the standard that Dream Theater set, but one has to remember that Dream Theater's first album When Dream and Day Unite (1989) came several years later than the likes of No Place Like Home, the self-titled Crimson Glory album (1986) of Fates Warning's Awaken the Guardian (1986).

As much as I like albums like those, I do also think that No Place Like Home is at least on the same quality level. Especially in the track Over the Rainbow Siren produced one of my favourite early progressive metal tracks. Damn that song is incredible and the rest of the album is no slouch either. I wasn't around when this was released and I can't help but wonder now, thirty years later, what the hell went wrong for this album not to have got the same recognition as those others. I don't know about anyone reading this, but I for one think it damn well ought to be recognised for it!
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more than 2 years ago
Thanks. I'll give it a listen. My thing is more proto-metal, tracking down bands that are on here with no reviews or bands that should be on here but are not, or bands that won't ever suit this site but who recorded songs that were in the heavy and aggressive guitar vein in earlier years.
adg211288 wrote:
more than 2 years ago
Exactly the reason (well, one of them) that I put this album in this series.
666sharon666 wrote:
more than 2 years ago
Sounds like a pretty sweet find.

And no never heard of them before, not even through the Mekong Delta connection.

adg211288 wrote:
more than 2 years ago
You can stream the songs here:

Highly doubt the legality but its one of those albums that isn't legally on the market anymore, so I don't feel bad about it.

I'd also definitely be interested in reading about what albums you can find if you decide to write a similar series.

more than 2 years ago
I'd be interested in hearing this. And I'm also interested in this series you've begun. Sounds like the kind of thing I'd be into doing. Historical importance indeed. Those words show up prominently on my radar.


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