Published on Saturday, 11 January 2014 18:21
Band: Leaves' Eyes
Album title: Symphonies Of The Night
Release date: 15 November 2013
Label: Napalm Records
01. Hell To The Heavens
02. Fading Earth
03. Maid Of Lorraine
05. Symphony Of The Night
06. Saint Cecelia
07. Hymn To The Lone Sands
08. Angel And The Ghost
09. Éléonore de Provence
12. Eileen's Ardency (feat. Carmen Elise Espenæs) [bonus]
13. One Caress (Depeche Mode cover) [bonus]
Being formed in 2003 after the charismatic vocalist Liv Kristine has departured (let's not go into details) from one of the most influential bands in the Scandinavian gothic metal scene, Theatre Of Tragedy, for their 10 year anniversary Leaves' Eyes gave us their 5th studio album. If their debut, Lovelorn, still had some of that sweet, serene and profound gothic touch, the rest of the band’s discography has been based mostly on the symphonic side of melodic metal. Clearly, as the title of the album suggests, it's no different with Symphonies Of The Night.
Rich in orchestrations, melodic guitar riffs and Liv Kirstine’s enchanting vocals, Symphonies Of The Night is basically what we expect it to be. The bright point probably lies in the band’s consistency and slight movement now and their out of their comfort zone. Gently flirting (and by gently meaning less than on Meredead) with elements of folk metal now, they never let us forget, the heart of Leaves’ Eyes lies in Norway, the land of epic tales about brave men (and women). The main theme of this album is, as usual, a mixture of history, epic tales and fiction about northern sagas, with emphasis on strong and independent women, which is easily seen from the song titles: "Maid Of Lorraine", "Éléonore de Provence", "Galswintha", "Saint Cecelia" and/or the opening track, "Hell To The Heavens", which tells us about a goddess Hecate. Speaking of which, the opening song is also one of the best and lays a firm foundation for the album.
And since fights lead, even if victorious, into death, despair and sadness, Symphonies Of The Night incorporates both: the touch of sweet victory and mourning sadness. The album is a mixture of intense and strong songs, with serene, yet powerful ballads. What is the biggest surprise and really adds on that powerful atmosphere are Liv Kristine’s vocals. Her trademark has always been her sweet, romantic and fragile voice, but she approached the tales of Symphonies Of The Night with far more edge and decided to colour her voice in operatic style. With much being said about the operatic classic vocals and female fronted metal, it sounds a bit cliché, but forget that. Liv Kristine has shown us just how remarkably she is maturating as a vocalist and has much more to show yet. With the album being a symphonic odyssey, her vocal style simply adds more power to the storyline. Just listen to her on "Saint Cecelia", where she delivers not only vocally, but also brings such hypnotizing and heart-breaking atmosphere to the song, it’s almost surreal.
Unfortunately, that cannot be said about her vocal (and real life) partner, Alexander Krull. It is not that he doesn’t deliver, but Leaves’ Eyes could do just the same, if not even better without his contribution as a vocalist. Alex’s growls are probably meant to bring obscurity to the ambient, but from the very beginning of this band (being, as we know Atrocity with Liv Kristine) the male vocals aren’t needed at all. Nonetheless, Liv’s charming vocals still dominate the Symphonies Of The Night, creating a pleasant, melodic, romantic album with a lot of orchestrations and folk elements. One of the bonus tracks is a cover of Depeche Mode’s "One Caress", but it’s needless to say that the original version is still better. An enjoyable album, which will bring joy to the fans of atmospheric symphonic metal.
Review written by: Ines