Tuesday, 18 August 2015
Leaves Eyes - King Of Kings (CD Review)
02.King Of Kings
03.Halvdan The Black
04.The Waking Eye
05.Feast Of The Year
08.Edge Of Steel
11.Swords In Rock
Liv Kristine (Vocals)
Alexander Krull (Vocals)
Thorsten Bauer (Guitar/Bass)
Pete Streit (Guitar)
Joris Nijenhuis (Drums)
London Voices Choir
White Rusian Symphony Orchestra
Simone Simons (Epica) - Vocals on Edge Of Steel
Lindy Fay Hella - Vocals on Blazing Waters
The international group formed back in 2003 has toured on five continents, playing concerts in more than 50 countries. Their live shows are spectacular events with breathtaking stage scenery, including a Viking ship or even the “Swords In Rock” monument from singer Liv Kristine’s home town. On their studio albums, the band has constantly followed the steps of classical composers from the past. Debut “Lovelorn” (2004) lead them first for subject matter, to Norway, home country of vocalist Liv and full of myths and legends. The concept effort made the musicians’ wonderment at Scandinavia’s vast nature graspable and later this found its continuation with 2005’s “Vinland Saga”, whose story told of the Viking’s exploration of America and its result.
This was followed by the orchestral metal opus “Njord” (2009), impressively remembering the Vikings’ exploration of all parts of the world and the complex “Meredead” (2011), which delved into tales of Scandinavian legends, connected to life, death and the power of the ocean.
They have always effortlessly combined traditional folk, mystic sounds of the past and a symphonic orchestra with brutal, metal rawness, and this was no truer than when, for their 10th anniversary, the band released the highly-acclaimed “Symphonies of the Night”, an album which features all their traditional trademarks, turned into a sweeping metal opera.
Now they have returned to a time when Harald I was uniting Norway as one kingdom. With an almost cinematic intensity, the band has you see the battle of Hafrsfjord itself. “King of Kings” sounds as if film score composers Hans Zimmer and Richard Wagner themselves had collaborated on a soundtrack about the life of Norway’s first king with amazing results. The epic title track with its huge choirs (brought to you by the “London Voices” ensemble, who have famously worked on movie productions such as “Star Wars”, “Lord of the Rings” and “Harry Potter” amongst many) gives a perfect start to the saga. It’s a perfect match to the band’s ambitions and to the vision of producer Alexander Krull, who sonically lifts “King of Kings” to the level of these blockbuster productions. Whilst, under the guidance of ex - Rage guitarist Victor Smolski, the powerful White Russian Symphony Orchestra adds even more feel.
So, wow, this is a huge, epic album, they have put so much into the production, this is taking symphonic metal to a new level.
Quite a folk/rock inspired short opening song, plenty of violins, harmony vocals and spoken word parts and then we launch into 'King Of Kings' which as the above bio said is more like a soundtrack, such is the orchestration you wonder how they managed to get the band in the mix as well. But they do and it works, a perfect blend of styles, the vocals are as stunning as ever, but there is way more maturity and power than before, nice little touches of male evil grunts thrown in as well.
'Halvdan The Black' is a surprise as it's more a straight forward metal song, power, energy all perfectly lead by more stunning vocals and a few more of those darkend growls, and pretty much same again for the next song as well.
'Feast Of the Year/Vengeance Venom', may be listed as two seperate songs but the former is a superb celtic sounding folk tune that leads us to the latter (So why make them seperate tracks??).
Anyway we are treated to a folk/metal masterpiece full of pipes and uplifting vocals, powered by some great drumming.
After the melodic/symphonic rock of 'Sacred Vow' comes 'Edge Of Steel'. Now this one gets to be called "Epic" the choir on this is just so amazing and again the rest of the band make their presence felt for another perfect melding of the two genres.
Ambient, atmospheric and just plain spooky are a good way to explain 'Haraldskvæði' it is a very laid back and very well put together piece.
'Blazing Waters' has this great folk style intro before launching into some serious guitar riff driven power metal with another superb symphonic edge.
Finally more epic folk/pagan rock for 'Swords In Rock', the orchestra and choir in fine form for this classic folk tune, it really is "Battle Metal" and evokes the imagery to perfection.
For fans of: Therion, Epica, Nightwaish, Within Temptation, Tusisas