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Leaves' Eyes: Symphonies of the Night

Leaves' Eyes is the first symphonic metal band that really caught my attention. Sure, I was familiar with that style of metal generally but was only vaguely aware of the major bands and albums that were already available. I have always been a fan of doom metal and worried I wouldn't like the emphasis on symphonic passages. Things changed for me when I picked up a copy of Njord at a local record store. I did so mostly on a whim; I had read an article about the band a couple of weeks earlier and was curious to know more. When I put Njord on, I was quickly hooked on Liv Kristine's lovely voice and the sheer strength and power of the backing band. Several months after that first encounter, I picked up a copy of Meredead, another good album, but one with a slightly softer edge. Around this time, I also began to discover Liv Kristine's solo work.

With Symphonies of the Night, Leaves' Eyes offers listeners another satisfying eleven songs, all of which feature their trademark sound, including strong and majestic orchestral passages (performed by real musicians and not programs), folk instruments, and plenty of that "beauty and the beast" vocal style as performed by Liv Kristine and Alexander Krull. Even though Meredead was a good album, it wasn't as heavy as other work. With this album, the band delivers a stronger set of songs that will certainly please fans and should attract plenty of new ones. There's a grandeur to the music here, one that effectively captures mood of the various stories the band repeats in word and music. Among the topics here are the tales of three interesting women: Joan of Arc, Saint Cecelia, and Eleonore de Provence. I won't take the time to rehearse their stories here. Interested readers should definitely learn more about these women; if they do, they'll find the songs all that more interesting and beautiful. In that light, I should point out that this album turns a little bit away from their traditional use of Norse Mythology, shifting, instead, to the brave, interesting, and tragic lives of medieval women. I don't have the lyrics to this album, but I can only assume the concluding track "Ophelia" concerns the tragic end of Hamlet's spurned and sorrowful love Ophelia. Her suicide by drowning has captured the attention of audiences, readers, artists, musicians, and writers for generations.

This album has a strong Romantic quality to it: its title, its melodies, and its tales all point to a desire to capture a world of powerful feeling and mysterious sources of beauty. It is also an effective blend of storytelling and music that successfully juxtaposes feelings of tragedy, beauty, and melancholy. Simply put, it is a triumphant new release from a terrific band. Check it out.

I'm tempted to conclude with one more personal note: I once asked Simone Simons (lead singer of Epica) if she knew Liv Kristine and whether she was as cool as she seems. She said yes.

Track Listing:
1. Hell to the Heavens
2. Fading Earth
3. Maid of Lorraine
4. Galswintha
5. Symphony of the Night
6. Saint Cecelia
7. Hymn to the Lone Sands
8. Angel and the Ghost
9. Eleonore de Provence
10. Nightshade
11. Ophelia

Added: November 20th 2013
Reviewer: Carl Sederholm
Related Link: Band Website
Hits: 2447
Language: english

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Leaves' Eyes: Symphonies of the Night
Posted by Steven Reid, SoT Staff Writer on 2013-11-19 18:04:07
My Score:

Fifth album time for the German/Norwegian Symphonic Gothic female fronted Leaves Eyes, something which illustrates just how deep and long lasting the effects of Nightwish have become. Especially when you consider that bands like Leaves Eyes now sound more Nightwishy than Nightwish do themselves!

So does Symphonies Of The Night change anything in the world of Leaves Eyes? Well yes and no, for the quality of this album is probably a step or two above what they have produced before, with the heaviness... heavied, and production improved. However in terms of evolution there is little in the way of growth, with this album happily taking its cues from what has come before, even if keyboardist Alexander Krul does sit in the growly vocaled front seat much more than previously.

Therefore if Leaves Eyes have seduced you, raised your spirits or bombasted your mind previously, you can live safe in the knowledge that they'll continue to do just that and then some. If you've never encountered this band before and have a hankering for big biting riffs, operatic vocals and the odd classically inspired, or folk tinged breakdown, then Leaves Eyes are something you need to check out. If none of the above describes your musical desires, then feel free to move along, there's nothing here to see....

For those still Symphonically salivating then, "Maid Of Lorraine" swings through on a mighty barrage of guitars, gravely male and soaring female vocals and much kick drum pummels. It is Leaves Eyes at their best. "Ophelia" adds more in the way of strings, bombast and scope; a more considered vocal offered, while "Angel And The Ghost" is happier to sit at mid pace, brooding and enigmatic and providing a welcome departure from the blueprint relied upon elsewhere. In terms of theme, Symphonies Of The Night highlights female characters from history and literature and tells their stories in neat four to six minute chunks (a similar idea to that employed by Serenity earlier in the year...). The subjects are handled well and this musical setting does lend itself to this style of drama.

However for all the positives, and there are many on Symphonies Of The Night, the niggles refuse to dissipate, even after taking time to let the album settle. The constant layering and compression of the vocals makes them feel a little too synthetic and a nagging feeling that in the end, good or not, that Leaves Eyes aren't simply continuing to play it safe here, seeps through on every listen. And what is it with Rock bands covering Depeche Mode songs these days? 'One Caress' closing the album out as a bonus track.

So it's one of those, if you're a fan, you'll continue to be so and if you're not, approach with care kind of albums. Far from bad, never uninspired, just a little staid and middle of the road in a genre where many bands seem happy to sit exactly where they are these days. Do Leaves Eyes really have enough to stand out from the crowd? Not for me, but your opinion, as my esteemed colleague's does above, may vary...

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