March 9, 2015 LEAH – Kings and Queens (Album Review)
A myriad of Metal genres can often be the topic of discussion among fans and critics, and no artists are so vehemently critiqued as the purveyors of Femme-metal. Those vocalists whose notes soar above staccato beats and thrashing guitars are often the focus of either love or hate from the Metal community. Female fronted Metal is nothing new, and those who participate and have carved out a nice niche for themselves have become more accepted that they once were. What this has also done is made the genre one of the most rapidly growing, and Canadian songstress LEAH is a standout among many. She has been called Metal’s version of Enya, but this is not an accurate comparison because she is something more. There is more fire, more depth of sound to her music, and it can be said that she is a fresh take on what has lately been considered a weary genre of female fronted Metal. For avid fans of female fronted metal, LEAH has had numerous surprises in store. After a while, some of the symphonic, female fronted Metal begins to sound repetitive, but LEAH has a new energy that is worth a listen and makes the genre interesting again.
Her latest opus, Kings and Queens, has fourteen songs that keep the listener interested from start to finish. It does not get boring, and there is no scanning through the CD to get to the next song, so it can be said that listeners will likely play this album often. It is pure Metal with an angelic lilt. LEAH clearly finds her inspiration in Celtic sounds, like those of the famed Loreena McKennitt, and European Power Metal divas like Tarja Turunen and Liv Kristine. A shining example of raw power and ethereal voice is found in the track “Enter the Highlands.” Each song on the record tells a story, but this is a particular standout. Additionally, “Heart of Poison” and “Palace of Dreams” have qualities that make them noteworthy. “This Present Darkness” and “There is No Farewell” are hard-hitting, robust, and memorable. Both songs are worthy of honorable mention on an album that stays solid throughout. As the album progresses with songs like “Hourglass,” “Remnant,” and “Siuil a Run,” it becomes apparent that this particular singer has a wealth of material, both historical and mystical, to perform for the fans of Folk Metal as well. LEAH cannot truly be classified into one Metal genre as she explores the realms of all possibilities.
LEAH has a knack for choosing her collaborators well. Her previous EP, Otherworld, featured Testament’s Eric Petersen, and this latest disc has her working with Delain’s Timo Somers and Sander Zoar, and Blind Guardian’s Barend Courbois. What they have created can compete with any Progressive Power Metal offering. LEAH has the right formula of imagination, dystopian storytelling, and spiritual awakening mixed with carefully crafted medieval architecture that features prominently in each song. While it would be nice to hear her music performed live, LEAH has never toured. She is a virtual performer, offering her albums on various digital formats along with physical copies and other merchandise that can be ordered from her website. With that said, something this magical should be experienced live. CrypticRock gives Kings and Queens 4 out of 5 stars.