Leaves Eyes - Symphonies of the Night
Napalm Records
Symphonic Goth Metal
11 songs (54' 9")
Release year: 2013
Leaves Eyes, Napalm Records
Reviewed by Andy

Leaves' Eyes, despite treading some very familiar ground and often verging on saccharine-sweet, has been able to turn out some excellent material since it started as ex-Theatre of Tragedy lead Liv Kristine's personal project with her husband, Atrocity frontman Alexander Krull. Where Meredead seemed to aim for a balance between pop and more folk-oriented tunes, their latest, Symphonies of the Night, goes in a slightly different direction -- true to its name, towards a symphonic-opera sound similar to Tarja-era Nightwish. This has some drawbacks and advantages; even though this can be pretty poppy at times, Kristine and Krull continue to be able to write decent songs here.

Hell to the Heavens isn't a promising start; it starts quietly, with Kristine's quiet, pretty, and not particularly powerful vocals, and then proceeds to pure symphonic metal -- opera with some of Krull's growled death metal vocals. Most of Leaves' Eyes appeal has always been Kristine's voice, and the guitar riffs aren't particularly original -- normally this would be OK, but the song isn't really very original either. The good news is that this is probably the worst track on the album. Its mid-tempo followup track, Fading Earth, though still owing a lot to Nightwish, is better written, and Kristine's voice comes into its own on this one; both vocals and chorus fit right into the sweet spot of her vocal range, and she puts in a strong performance on it. This is continued on the more crunching Maid of Lorraine -- I wasn't a huge fan of Krull's vocals on this one, which join hers shortly into the track, but they're really more for effect than anything else.

I should probably mention the symphonic part at this point. For the most part it's nicely and tastefully mixed, though occasionally there are string bits during the main guitar riffs that could have been done without. Kristine's soft vocals have never been the sort to rattle a listener's spine, but have always had a very sweet sound, and that doesn't change in this album. Up till the fourth track, the songs are more poppy, but there we get a turn towards folk flutes/pipes and a different song structure; it may be unkind to say this, but it sounded to me like Celtic Woman set to metal. The title track goes back towards a more mainstream sound, but is probably one of the best songs on the album; the melodic chord progressions give an epic feel to it that boosts the impact of Kristine's voice. After that we get a softer, more breathy track, building up to Hymn to the Lone Sands, which starts quiet but launches quickly into a fast, clear lead followed by plenty of blasting rhythm guitar, extra soloing, and Krull growling fiercely, which was a relief to me after all the soft dreaminess of the previous track. I also liked Éléonore de Provence for the same reason; Kristine and Krull trade off with good impact to the two guitars' heaviness, and while the symphonic part is still hiding in the background, it is not overpowering. After the quiet Nightshade, which unfortunately is pretty unremarkable, the album finishes with Ophelia, a great finish. Kristine's high vocals play to this melody very well, with Krull acting as a counterpoint, and the guitars blend perfectly with them to provide an anthemic finish to the album.

Not everyone's going to like the genre Leaves' Eyes has established themselves in, but no one can say they don't do what they set out to do well. Symphonies of the Night is a good, solid effort that, while containing some inoffensive duds, still has plenty of enjoyable, melodic songs with a lead vocalist who can make them listenable.

Killing Songs :
Symphonies of the Night, Hymn to the Lone Sands, Ophelia
Andy quoted 84 / 100
Other albums by Leaves Eyes that we have reviewed:
Leaves Eyes - Meredead reviewed by Cory and quoted 86 / 100
Leaves Eyes - Njord reviewed by Khelek and quoted 87 / 100
Leaves Eyes - Vinland Saga reviewed by Ian and quoted 84 / 100
Leaves Eyes - Lovelorn reviewed by Jack and quoted 85 / 100
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