December 18, 2013 Leaves’ Eyes – Symphonies of Night (Album review)
Leaves’ Eyes started life a decade ago in 2003. A result of a union between Alexander Krull (of German band Atrocity), his wife and Norwegian soprano, Liv Kristine Espenæs. Krull has been active in the music scene since 1985, playing everything from grindcore to industrial. Liv Kristine gained fame singing for Theatre of Tragedy in the 90’s. The rest of Leaves’ Eyes consist of Thorsten Bauer (guitar), Sander van der Meer (guitar), J.B. Van der Wal (bass), and newest member Felix Born (drums). Liv Kristine is perhaps best known for her influence in dueling male growling and female clean vocal styles as part Theatre of Tragedy. This style has become predominate in the extreme metal scene and at times over saturated. Leaves’ Eyes has worked off a similar theme, and over the course of five studio albums evolved their sound from a mere template to a powerful, symphonic, and musical tapestry.
Their latest offering, Symphonies of the Night, see’s the band taking things to new heights. The album mixes in more orchestral pieces with more complex and layered arrangements. Each song on Symphonies of the Night is carefully and lovingly crafted. The band uses orchestral elements as well as a variety of folk instrumentation ensures no boredom and no filler. Krull’s gruff vocals are for the most part smartly placed and work as a sharp counterpoint to his wife’s soprano lilt. This record should finally elevate Leaves’ Eyes to the same level now occupied by such acts as Epica and Nightwish. Fans of symphonic heavy metal with female vocals will find themselves transported by the Therion like feel of “Maid of Lorraine”, with its bombastic chorus and driving pace. The Celtic style “Galswintha” sounds like what would happen if Richard Wagner and Loreena McKennitt sat down to write a heavy metal song. Perhaps the most lustrous and beautiful tune on the record is the magical “Saint Cecelia”. Liv shows shades of the great Tarja Turunen and her confident voice carrying this classical operatic masterpiece all the way home. One would be tempted to name it a ballad, but it has far too much potential energy in its calm and hypnotic tones. The song immerses you into some ancient European city on the edge of a battlefield in the pouring rain. “Hymn to the Lone Sands” begins similarly with Liv’s silky tones accompanied by a swell of flute and piano. The track then takes a turn slamming you from the side with a wicked guitar solo and Krull’s growl letting you know the band can really rock when they want. “Angel and the Ghost” features some storytelling à la Shakespeare while Liv’s impassioned narrative adds depth to an already touching song. On this one some great guitar work leads into yet another powerful and catchy chorus. The album closes with a Depeche Mode cover of “One Caress”, which is not as amazing as the original, but well done and not out-of-place next to other songs on the record.
Symphonies of The Night resonates like a fine film and like any good movie one will want to get to know the characters, the songs are that convincing. Albums like Symphonies of Night do not come around very often in this genre. Part heavy metal rocker, part film score, Leaves’ Eyes are definitely not painting by numbers. Liv Kristine’s voice has never sounded better. The veteran singer’s voice benefits from overdubs, which give her some power and depth and absolutely command on the album. CrypticRock gives this album 4.5 out of 5 stars.
Written by Nicholas Franco