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Leaves' Eyes

Company: Napalm Records
Release: 2009
Genre: Gothic/Symphonic
Reviewer: Raising Iron

  • Extremely well-executed on almost all fronts

  • With songs awash in lush tapestries and undulating melodies, Leaves' Eyes have struck a perfect balance between gothic and symphonic metal with their latest release, Njord. There's even a slight touch of pop sensibilities which appear in several of the songs (lead single "My Destiny") that lend this effort a chance at garnering broader, mainstream appeal, yet hardcore fans of the genre (and/or the band) need not fret, this is Leaves' Eyes at their best (by the way, it's worth mentioning for those who aren't aware that Leaves' Eyes is essentially the German band Atrocity and Liv Kristine – yes, formerly of Theatre of Tragedy – on vox; she and lead singer Alexander Krull of Atrocity are married). It's obvious the band has been working and reworking these songs into grist during their three year hiatus (well, Atrocity were also werking on their atrocious Werk 80 II album, God help us) since 2006's Legend Land and the payoff should be huge.

    For starters, Liv's vocals here remain operatic yet poised, but she seems to have found an even richer delivery. The precise recording obviously helps, but she now exhibits a superb control over her melodies allowing the emphasis on even the slightest of vibratos, changes in pitch, and fluctuations in volume to stand out. Check out her harmonies on the beautifully wrought "Irish Rain" ballad, it'll send chills down your spine. Speaking of vocals, Alexander Krull's growls, when appearing, are somewhat annoying this time out. This is odd, as his work in Atrocity always contained decent vocalization of the growling nature, but here, they don't quite work. The placement is right, as they roar out when you'd expect in this style of metal, but the form of delivery is misplaced here.

    Other highlights include "Ragnarok"; bombasity and heaviosity roaring forth, exemplifying the genre perfectly, and "Take the Devil in Me", another easily accessible tune wrapped up nicely with a bow. Also check out the Simon and Garfunkel penned "Scarborough Fair", which at first is a seemingly odd choice, but their rendition adds all the flourishing instrumentation the original duo would've never comprehended of way back when. In conclusion, the eight-minute "Froya's Theme" ends the album in epic fashion, and leaves the listener immediately hitting replay.

    All in all, only the track "Morgenland" feels a bit pointless and out of place, but nary another gripe can be levied against this effort (save for maybe the aforementioned death growls). Extremely well-executed on almost all fronts, Njord is sure to turn the heads of those who enjoy the likes of Delain, Within Temptation, Midnattsol, et al; and despite the viking theme having now been done to death, if it works, it works; and for Leaves' Eyes, this time it certainly does.

    Maximum Metal Rating Legend - Click for Full Details
    5 Excellent - Buy it and say a prayer to the metal gods that you were tuned on to this masterpiece. A classic.
    4-4.5 Great - Almost perfect records but there's probably a clunker or a lacking somewhere to keep it from perfection. You won't feel bad about dropping some bones on these.
    3.5 Good - Most of the record is good, but there may be some filler. This is the OK range where you'd search for the record on sale or used.
    3 Average - Some good songs, some bad ones at about a half/half ratio. Could show skills but be dull overall. Redeeming qualities for indy bands are effort and passion. Majors that don't try or suck outright end up here.
    2-2.5 Fair - Worth a listen, but best obtained by collectors. There is much better metal out there.
    1-1.5 Bad - Major problems with music, lyrics, production, etc.
    0 Terrible or an otherwise waste of your life and time.

    Note: Reviews are graded from 0-5, anything higher or not showing is from our old style. Scores, however, do not reveal the important features. The written review that accompanies the ratings is the best source of information regarding the music on our site. Reviewing is opinionated, not a qualitative science, so scores are personal to the reviewer and could reflect anything from being technically brilliant to gloriously cheesy fun.

    Demos and independent releases get some slack since the bands are often spent broke supporting themselves and trying to improve. Major releases usually have big financial backing, so they may be judged by a heavier hand. All scores can be eventually adjusted up or down by comparison of subsequent releases by the same band. We attempt to keep biases out of reviews and be advocates of the consumer without the undo influence of any band, label, management, promoter, etc.

    The best way to determine how much you may like certain music is to listen to it yourself.

    All reviews for this band:
    LovelornLeaves Eyes
    Ken Pierce8/10/2005
    NjordLeaves Eyes
    Raising Iron10/16/2009

    Interviews found from this band:

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