Leaves' Eyes

Njord

Written by: TL on 01/10/2009 15:00:58

If you are among those of our readers who enjoy some gothic metal, then chances are that you'll probably know of a band called Theater Of Tragedy, which most will remember for helping to define the genre back in its youth. TOT decided to change style over their career however, and somewhere along the way, they apparently failed to agree with their lead singer, Liv Kristine about where to take their music, and hence, Liv was suddenly without a job. Again, if you follow the genre, then you will probably also know that Liv gained a new band when her husband Alexander Krull decided to form Leaves' Eyes with his wife on lead vocals. A band that have recently released their third LP called "Njord", which is the subject of this review.

Now before we move on to the proceedings, I'll probably have to disclaim that this is indeed one of those times where my background knowledge of both the band in question and its genre in general, could probably be much much better. Apart from the odd spin of albums by bands like Nightwish, Within Temptation, Adorned Brood, Moonspell and the likes, this really isn't my usual neck of the woods, and hence, my experience with "Njord" is more or less that of a newcomer, and I'll leave it for you to desire what that's worth when you value this review. You may of course cry about it in the comments if you feel so inclined.

Now, to get things started, newcomers like me will quickly find that Leaves' Eyes do in fact check off every box on the stereotype checklist for bands of their genre. We've got our pseudo heavy, symphonic and dramatic instrumentation, complete with strings and horns and what not added to create the proper epic/medieval atmosphere. Liv Kristine takes the leading role as the classic opera trained 'beauty', while backed on occasion by her husband as the deeply growling 'beast'. Songs like the opening duo "Njord" and "My Destiny" are perfect representatives of this, getting things off to a nice start.

The interesting thing about Leaves' Eyes though, is naturally not what makes them similar to the masses, but rather what sets them apart, and fortunately, they have elements that do just that. First off, people on the look out for more easy-to-get-into fantasy metal alá Nightwish may keep searching, because Leaves' Eyes seem to take themselves a bit more seriously, establishing a more feeling to their stuff that's more "historical" than "high fantasy". It may read a bit weird, but just listen and you'll hear that it just somehow feels a bit less cheesy. That's part of the band's appeal, but there's also something else, something that shows in the more tranquil parts of their soundscape. Here, pipes and other folksy elements almost remind me of a band like Lumsk, and this only adds more nuance to the bands palette - Which is of course a pretty cool thing. Check out "Scarborough Fair" and "Irish Rain" for some of this.

Overall, I think that with "Njord" Leaves' Eyes present themselves as a serious and solid representative for both gothic and folk metal, having just enough originality to offer, to not seem like just another cloned femme-metal band. The cool thing about them is definitely that all their songs are very ambitious and layered pieces of work, that will grow on you the more time and effort you put into them. On the flipside, I'd still be hard pressed to call them truly original, for that they are still too similar to the common denominator, and I also wouldn't exactly call them easily accessible, as there are few parts on here which are really catchy and memorable outside of the context of the grander composition. So I guess you've guessed where I'm going with this: Leaves' Eyes are a solid bet for any goth/folk appreciator, standing taller than the average produce from that genre, but still though, they probably won't draw many new fans to this realm of music.

7

Download: Njord, My Destiny, Scarborough Fair,
For The Fans Of: Theater Of Tragedy, Tristania
Listen: myspace.com/leaveseyespage

Release Date 25.08.2009
Napalm Records

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