(25 June 2005) Fans of metal and progressive music need no introduction to Liv Christine. For a decade she fronted the popular metal band Theatre of Tragedy. After the band's 2002 album Assembly--their strongest to date, Theatre of Tragedy unceremoniously dismissed Liv from their ranks via their website.
No longer tied to other people's visions Liv quickly rebounded with her Napalm Records debut, under the monniker Leaves' Eyes, entitled Lovelorn (Napalm Records (USA), NPR 145, SPV 085-343212 CD, 2004) and soon the whole music industry was enthralled. Fans and critics alike were blown away by the band's unique sound and grand approach. Backed by the members of Atrocity, Liv quickly established herself as one of music's most important female artists.
In addition to the new Leaves' Eyes album and maxi reviewed below, Liv will also release her first solo album since 1999's Deux Ex Machina later this year. She has signed to one of rock's biggest labels, Roadrunner Records. We caught up with Liv recently to talk about her past, present, and future. Read our interview for details.--Mark Fisher in West Virginia
Vinland Saga. Leave's Eyes latest full length release is indeed an epic concept album. Entitled Vinland Saga (Napalm Records (USA) NPR 164 SPV 085-37190 CD, 2005), the album is a beautiful and majestic blend of classical, goth, and metal. Comprised of twelve tracks, the album is rich with warm orchestral string arrangements supporting Liv's glorious vocals. Almost soundtrack, the album is certain to enthral a wide range of enthusiasts.
The title track that opens the albums certainly sets the stage immediately establishing the cinematic beauty Leaves' Eyes consistently delivers. They do so by perfectly mixing guitar and keyboard with a massive rhythm section. "Farewell Proud Men" is a warmly arranged rock track, Liv's Sarah Brightman-style pop vocals in the verses contrasted by thick metal-edged choruses a la Within Temptation. The album's first single "Elegy" is a stadium style rocker, graced with Liv's tenderly delivered vocals, at times multi-layered, against vast rocking guitar excursions.
Vinland Saga clearly provides the canvas for the band to build a rich musical tapestry. Soaring vocals contrast thick guitars in "Solemn Sea" while the semi-acoustic and highly memorable ballad "Leave's Eyes" and internally contrasting "The Thorn" showcase Liv's incredible vocal talent. "Misseri" (Turn Green Meadows Into Grey) again combines metal-edged guitars with orchestral arrangements in a foundation for Liv's soaring multi-layered vocal arrangements. The thick instrumentals within "New Found Land" provide a rich foundation for Liv's tenderly delivered lyrical message.
Layers of Liv's soaring vocals are backed by gentle acoustic arrangements in the lovely track "Amhrain" (Song Of The Winds). The very accessible and memorable ballad "Mourning Tree" showcases Liv's vocals and is certainly one of several album standouts. The last metal-tinged track on the album is "Twilight Sun," and as several of the others, it is full of contrasts providing ample opportunity for instrumentals and vocals to come to the fore. The album concludes with the atmospherically flavoured rock ballad "Ankomst," sung gloriously in Norwegian. The multi-layering of Liv's voice is superb.
Clearly Vinland Saga has demonstrated significant growth over the band's superb debut album and is already a strong contender for one of our best of the year recommendations.
Elegy. The first single by the band since their prior album is entitled "Elegy." The maxi-CD includes two versions of the title track: a shortened single version and the album version. It also includes three non-album tracks and a lovely demo--and differently arranged--version of the album track "Solemn Sea."
"Senses Capture" is a mid-tempo number featuring a powerful string arrangement beneath a Liv's memorable solo vocal lead and multi-layered harmony. In addition to the stunning middle eight, the drum parts, strings and keyboards in the main body of the track are especially notable.
"A Winter's Poem" is a lovely bonus track. A slow number, richly arranged with a foundation of orchestral textures, Liv's tenderly sung and strongly vocals rise above the equally powerful instrumentals. "Mot Fjerne Land" is a short atmospheric instrumental number with strong Nordic influences that combines male and female choir textures atop powerful rhythmic percussion.
Comprised of six excellent tracks, the "Elegy" maxi is a tremendous package and an excellent companion to a new or existing Leaves' Eyes collection!--Russ Elliot in New York