By Jason Burke
LEAVES' EYE are in a competition, whether they like it or not, for supremacy in the symphonic, female fronted metal - and the German-Norwegian are currently dominating the genre through intelligent use of lore, feminist themes and a diverse set of tales set against a lush musical landscape.
The 2013 release Symphonies of the Night - available on Napalm Records - has built up their 2009 release, Njord, and the masterpieces such as Ragnarok, Irish Rain and My Destiny from that that release.
References to Shakespearean tragic characters such as Ophelia and the bathos of Hamlet, the lyrics also touch on the oft-repeated myths around Joan of Arc on the track Maid of Lorraine and the battles that ensued in her time: "May 1431, Between the walls that imprison me I seek divine guidance."
Leaves Eyes are a captivating band with thought provoking lyrics and musical scores and playing to complement historical myth and legend and "Symphonies of the night" is an intense and gripping plethora of incredible songs and a thoroughly enjoyable listen for both the casual listener and hardcore fans.
Liv Kristine's vocals stay dynamic, and initial echoes of Nightwish and Within Temptation are quickly dispelled and with Alexander Krull's singing giving it a metal edge to fit in with the playing of Thorsten (bass), van der Meer (guitar) and Born (drums) which weaves tapestries around the mythic but literate styles.
Opener "Hell to the Heavens” is a powerful introduction with intense and incredible vocals from both Kristine and Krull sounding as if they are preparing for war. Fading Earth gives the feeling of the descent of a woman’s mind to the dark thoughts and speaks of hoping for another waiting on the other side, a deep and thoughtful song with a rocking guitar solo.
Songs that would jump out to listeners of the album are Hymme to The Lone Sands with well-structued riffs and gives a certified head banging mosh pit feel friendly feel to the song. The album contains an almost perfect mix of slower, more vocal songs like Angel of the Ghost with an almost pagan speech halfway through and yet another guitar solo to make the eardrums feel pleasured!
Ophelia which is the final song of the album is not only a song of lyrical mastery but an insight into the vocal prowess and skill of Kristine alongside Krull's skilled werewolf growls enough to scare virgins and consummate music to match.
Leaves Eyes are an amazingly talented band with a list of collaborators as long as any fan’s arm, and have only improved through the years. This release shows true feeling and individuality in their genre.
Additional editing by Jonny