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Leaves’ Eyes: The Last Viking

Maintaining their impressive rate of averaging a new studio album every two years, Leaves’ Eyes are here to regale us with the tale of The Last Viking. The second release to feature the vocal talents of Elina Siirala after she replaced the seemingly irreplaceable Liv Kristine, with this opus the German symphonic/Viking metal outfit are taking us on a conceptual journey into fantasy land where, well, pretty much, horn-hatted guys run wild and pillage and stuff. The band themselves are, supposedly, part of the battle reenactment scene, so doubtless they know their subject matter, but even with that in mind, I’ve found the meanings behind “Chain Of The Golden Horn” or “Serpents And Dragons” to be little more than a vehicle for the soaring, sometimes (to me anyway), gratingly so tones from Siirala and growls from keyboard man Alexander Krull - which basically alternate as the music moves from flowing folk fare to mighty metal majesty.

It’s not that anything here isn’t bristling with bombastic beats and gallant guitars, but when the likes of “Black Butterfly”, which features Clémentine Delauney (Visions Of Atlantis, Serenity) chugga-chuggas along, you can’t quite shake off the impression that you might just have heard all of this before. Like most bands in this setting, the ghost of Nightwish still looms large (not that Nightwish really sound like Nightwish anymore…), while Kamelot are also often a touching point. Thankfully, there’s nothing wrong with that and “War Of Kings” undoubtedly possesses oodles of drama, as well as some searing guitar solos. And yet, well crafted as all of this is, even after six or seven spins of this album I’m not really left with much of its flavour. Suggesting that this release could be style over substance would be hugely unfair, but it does feel to me as though the desire to make sure everything fits neatly into the folk/viking/symphonic setting actually curtails any opportunity to make some of the individual tracks sound, well, more individual. That said, the clever panning guitars and more driven vocals from Siirala on “For Victory” do indeed make it win the fight, while the ten minute voyage of the album’s title track carries more than enough light, shade and heft to truly hit home. In fact, I’d suggest that it just about says everything The Last Viking is trying to convey… and maybe that’s the problem?

Fair’s fair, The Last Viking is proficient, in places impressive European symphonic metal with a Viking edge. For me, while there are no real moments where things fall from the longship, neither is there much in evidence that makes Leaves’ Eyes truly stand out from the Viking hordes.


Track Listing
1. Death of a King
2. Chain of the Golden Horn
3. War of Kings
4. Black Butterfly
5. Serpents and Dragons
6. Dark Love Empress
7. Two Kings One Realm
8. For Victory
9. Varangians
10. Serkland
11. Night of the Ravens
12. Flames in the Sky
13. Break into the Sky of Aeon
14. The Last Viking

Added: February 20th 2021
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Score:
Related Link: The Last Viking at AFM Records
Hits: 144
Language: english

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