Sunday, January 26, 2014

Leaves' Eyes - Symphonies of the Night

My enjoyment of Tarja-era Nightwish led me to branch out and explore the world of female-fronted symphonic metal. Leaves’ Eyes seemed as good a place as any to begin this journey, and it turned out to be pretty much exactly what I expected. This style of music tends to be very song-driven (much like power metal), so when it’s good, it’s really good. There are a couple of really cool tracks on “Symphonies of the Night”. The opener, “Hell To The Heavens”, is definitely the strongest song, mainly because of its chorus. There are a lot of similarities to Nightwish on this song: the classic heavy riffing style without much substance, operatic vocals at times (the chorus), male vocals as support. These male vocals are definitely on the harsh side though. It provides a pretty good contrast to Liv Kristine’s clean vocals, particularly when they sing in tandem. Speaking of her vocals, she is actually a really talented vocalist. The reason she’s so effective is because she can do both a more typical singing voice and an operatic voice, so it provides some nice variety on the album. In fact, these two sounds are often harmonized, not unlike bands such as Deicide that use a similar tactic (albeit in a very, very different style).

My issue with “Symphonies of the Night” is that it simply doesn’t have enough quality content to justify its playtime. It’s easy to see how fans of the style will enjoy this, but I consider Nightwish’s “Century Child” to be the pinnacle of female-fronted symphonic metal because there is no filler. Unfortunately, Leaves’ Eyes struggles to maintain the same level of quality throughout “Symphonies of the Night”. Even if there were one or two songs that weren’t up to par, it would be ok, because it’s a fun style of music to sit back and listen to. The problem, however, is that there aren’t many tracks to look forward to on here aside from the first couple, so once you reach the midpoint of the album, it can be rough to get through the rest. To rectify this, it would be nice to see some better interplay between the male and female vocals; it is this tandem and aggression that it creates that makes “Hell To The Heavens” such a potent track. One surprising thing that is a bit of a nice addition to this album is that the symphonics are not overbearing. They definitely exist, but they don't dominate the record the way you might expect. Instead, this is a vocally driven album. Nonetheless, it will definitely appeal to fans of this sound, but otherwise, it's probably best off sticking to Nightwish.

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"Hell To The Heavens"
"Fading Earth"

Final Rating
3.6/5 or 72%. 

Written by Scott