“Njord” by Leaves’ Eyes

Artist: Leaves Eyes
Title: “Njord”
Label: Napalm Records
Release Date: 8/28/2009
Genre: Symphonic Gothic Metal
Rating: 4/5

My hope is that if you are a fan of Symphonic Metal that is led by a soaring female voice that you have been long aware of the band Leaves Eyes and the majesty that their music brings to the table. If this is not the case well there is no time like the present to get caught up to speed and their latest release “Njord” is the perfect place to get your start. Formed in 2003, “Njord” comes to us as the bands third full length album, but during this relatively short career in terms of years a number of EP style releases had come out as well as a live CD/DVD. “Njord” starts with a dramatic, and ominous tone that is cut like a knife by the siren voice that Liv Kristine possesses and then it’s on with a track that makes you feel as though you are speeding across the ocean seas in search of new adventures. I’ve enjoyed the band for a number of years and am happy to see that they have not lost an ounce of the momentum that they built up on the albums predecessor “Legend Land” and even “Vinland Saga”. As you listen you will agree that there is something simply defined a “big” to their overall delivery and this is accomplished by the powerful band backing Kristine up and her husband Alexander Krull who offers the dark vocals to her clean ones.

Since the bands last release we have found them with two new members and while gone are Chris Lukhaup and Moritz Neuner, in their places are bassist Alla Fedynitch and drummer Seven Antonopoulous who each prove themselves to be wise choices as song after song goes by. “My Destiny” was a little slower in pace and seemed to be the “single” for the album and that was nice enough even though I preferred the way that “Emerald Island” flowed much more. It begins slower and eventually drives you home with thunderous drumming. Pipes and acoustic guitars paint a wonderful musical picture during “Irish Rain” which is another favorite of mine but I really fell hard for the bands version of the classic “Scarborough Fair”. The song is a time honored traditional number and I love hearing what the capable Metal bands are doing with it. My Dying Bride did a Doom version of this recently but the Leaves Eyes version has that Symphonic power that makes their appeal so strong and like much of the bands tunes, seems to propel you forward as it progresses. There are a number of different feels played with this and it should help the band reach an even larger audience if they choose to let it help them to do so. Good luck I say for there is no reason for this band to remain a great secret any longer in certain parts of the world. There are other winners to be found with the likes of “Northbound” and “Morgenland” and the band manages to keep the listeners ears interested by offering up a number of peaks and valleys in the tunes as opposed to just playing one riff over and over ad nausea. It seems as though they are really focusing on the voice of Liv Kristine on this one for while Alex’s tone is present, I didn’t find it to be as much as he had done in the past. My view is that this release is sound enough to make you look deeper into the bands earlier releases and videos and should manage to make you a lifetime fan. There is a booklet that offers the listeners a number of great photos and the lyrics to all of the tunes. Personally I enjoy the stories that their songs tell so I love that this is included and can advise anyone who listens that they should take the extra moments to peruse them.

Not only has the band released a sort of “prequel” EP to the release but also issued a special edition that contains two bonus tracks that are not found on this release. If you enjoy the band enough I recommend trying to get a copy of those prequel CD’s since they often deliver different versions of songs you know, new ones and sometimes videos that you can enjoy on the computer. If you have been listening to the likes of Nightwish, Sirenia, Within Temptation or even Delain then I feel that Leaves Eyes should be a band that is on the top of your listening pile because they are truly worthy contenders to the Symphonic Metal throne when it comes down to it.

Track Listing:
1. Njord
2. My Destiny
3. Emerald Island
4. Take the Devil In Me
5. Scarborough Fair
6. Through Our Veins
7. Irish Rain
8. Northbound
9. Ragnarok
10. Morgenland
11. The Holy Bond
12. Froya’s Theme

Official Website: http://www.leaveseyes.com

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