November 13, 2019 LEAH – Ancient Winter (Album Review)
A winter-themed folk fantasy told through original compositions and Medieval hymnals, Symphonic/Celtic vocal goddess LEAH is set to take your breath away with Ancient Winter. Ex Cathedra Records delivers the love and light on Friday, November 15th, 2019.
From the rugged coast of British Columbia, Canada, phenomenal Singer, Songwriter, and Multi-Instrumentalist LEAH has been affectionately described as “the Metal Enya.” Heavily inspired by Celtic and World music artists such as Clannad and the aforementioned Irish siren Enya, as well as Symphonic and Progressive Metal, she self-released her debut, Of Earth & Angels, in 2012. An ambitious and prolific artist, LEAH followed this with 2014’s Otherworld, 2015’s Kings and Queens, and 2018’s The Quest, gaining the talented songstress thousands of fans across the globe.
For 2019 and her fifth release, LEAH has turned toward snowy landscapes and folk instrumentation to craft a modern fairytale that she calls Ancient Winter. The 8-track collection pairs five original masterpieces with three traditional, centuries-old hymnals onto which the songbird has placed her own unique spin. An earthy and vibrantly textured collection, Ancient Winter features everything from fiddles to uilleann pipes, and a top-notch cast of musicians that includes Troy Donockley (Nightwish), Anna Murphy (Cellar Darling), Shir-Ran Yinon (Eluveitie), Oliver Philipps (Everon, Phantasma), and renowned String Musician Rupert Gillett.
Ancient Winter prances through heavy snowfall into the hibernal dream of “The Whole World Summons.” Coupling folk instrumentation with a timeless grace, LEAH creates a cinemascape that evokes cold winter nights among the creatures of the forest. As breathtaking as the newly fallen snow, the track is apt to absolutely blow your mind and send tingles across your flesh. In fact, there’s that moment where you wonder how she can possibly follow-up such exquisiteness, and then “Light of the World” settles in. With a Middle Eastern influence that undulates like an enthralled serpent, there’s a seductive warmth to the track that beautifully contrasts the hyperborean landscape of its predecessor.
Just as little cat feet are apt to tiptoe through the fog, the siren’s call emanates through the delicately soaring “Upon Your Destiny.” Next, harp and pipe flute summon the faeries from their mounds as “Redemption” builds toward truly catchy choruses, before “The Messenger” invites listeners to wonder at the ebb and flow of the aurora borealis. Then, the sun rises over the mountains in the sacred Christmas carol “Gaudete,” which is believed to have been written in the 16th century. Previously performed by everyone from Celtic Thunder to Erasure to Charlotte Church, the Medieval melody sits perfectly amidst LEAH’s timeless collection.
Continuing with these ancient feels, “Puer Natus” is a splendid take on another Medieval Latin hymn (“A Child Is Born in Bethlehem”). Beautifully resplendent in its folk instrumentation accompanying LEAH’s flawless vocals, this track is wonderfully-suited to ushering in a magical holiday season. Continuing with this joyous mood, the breathtaking album closes out with its third traditional hymnal, “Noël Nouvelet.” A song previously brought to life by the likes of Loreena McKennitt, the beautiful celebration of light, love and the magic of December caps off an album that is apt to warm your heart all winter long.
On Ancient Winter, LEAH crafts epic soundscapes that weave modern folktales across the ears. Each a vignette that inspires its own story, these eight songs range from the Arctic Circle to the Irish Sea and beyond as they embrace globalism and show a boundless respect for the music of the world. While LEAH is and always has been billed as Symphonic Metal, Ancient Winter’s timeless beauty is likely to delight fans of Josh Groban, Sarah Brightman, and Loreena McKennitt just as easily at it can entice those that love Eluveitie, Cellar Darling, and Midnattsol.
Quite possibly the most beautiful collection that you will hear this year, Cryptic Rock firmly believe that Ancient Winter is more than worthy of 5 out of 5 stars!