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With their latest masterpiece "Njord", Leaves' Eyes embarks on yet another enthralling journey through the myths and sagas of the North. The strong and sonorous compositions familiar to the band's fanbase have been further developed. Their passion for both heavy and opulent sounds harmonizes perfectly with memorable melodies, while surprises like heavy double bass passages are counterattacked by Liv Kristine's haunting vocals. "Njord" impressively defends the sextet's claim as the leading force in symphonic Gothic Rock and Metal. Limited edition digipack includes 2 bonus tracks.
With their latest masterpiece Njord, Leaves' Eyes embarks on yet another enthralling journey through the myths and sagas of the North. The strong and sonorous compositions familiar to the band's fanbase have been further developed. The adventure begins with the title track's powerful and sombre choruses and orchestra. Fans will find the continuation of the Leave's Eyes hit "Elegy" in the rocking single "My Destiny", which is only one of the many catchy and soon-to-be hits delivered by Liv and her colleagues. Devilishly enticing are the refrains found on "Take the Devil in Me", "Northbound", and "Through Our Veins", the last of which reminisces in the driving beats of the eighties' rock rhythms. Leaves' Eyes' passion for both heavy and opulent sounds harmonizes perfectly with memorable melodies, as in the epic track "Ragnarok", while "Emerald Island" surprises with heavy double bass passages that are counterattacked by Liv Kristine's haunting vocals. Alongside the lavish hits, Leaves' Eyes always finds room for the more subdued folk moments, such as in the interpretation of the English traditional song "Scarborough Fair" or the fragile acoustic ballad "Irish Rain". The opus "Froyas Theme" rounds off the Nordic journey, uniting the choral arrangements of the magnificent Lingua.
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It's been four years since their last studio album "Vinland Saga," and Leaves Eyes has made a nice progression on "Njord." The songs are intricately composed, combining delicate classical influences with powerful metal guitars. The songs run the gamut from loud, bombastic and symphonic to quiet and fragile.
The album kicks off with the title track, which builds slowly into a cinematic and diverse song with Kristine's singing offset by Krull's growls. "Emerald Island" is a strong song, ebbing and flowing in tempo and intensity. "Through Your Veins" is one of the most accessible and mainstream leaning songs on "Njord," with all melodic vocals and a nice combination of heaviness and melody.
"Irish Rain" is more subdued with acoustic guitars, a prominent flute, reserved vocals and more of a folk metal vibe. "Morgenland" is also in that vein, with piano and Kristine's vocals in the forefront. Leaves Eyes tackles the traditional English ballad "Scarborough Fair," popularized by Simon and Garfunkel in the mid 1960s. It's given a symphonic arrangement with plenty of guitars and atmosphere, and is well-done.
The lyrical concept of "Njord" covers Nordic mythology. Kristine's vocal performance on this album is outstanding. Her voice runs the gamut from quiet and emotional to "regular" singing to belting it out in a powerful classical style. She also sings in an astounding eight languages on the album, including English, Norwegian, Gaelic, and even a made up language for one brief sequence.
Sometimes symphonic/gothic metal albums get too caught up in the orchestral arrangements and forget about things like choruses and melody. "Njord" has both painstakingly composed and arranged songs along with memorable hooks and choruses. It's hands down the band's strongest effort thus far.
The same gorgeous, atmospheric music mixed with folk instruments and metal that the band is known for is still here, but they've taken things a step further from My Destiny and Vinland Saga.
The star single here is the catchy, hook-filled "My Destiny," which sounds the most like Leaves Eyes' previous songs. The tension between Liv Kristine's angelic vocals and Alexander's deep, gritty grunts is great here without being overdone. "Through Our Veins" and "Take the Devil in Me" are also great songs of Viking legend told through bombastic, strong metal laced with Liv's haunting voice. Both of these songs also feature more hook-oriented music that will leave listeners singing them in their heads for days afterward.
My favorite song here is "Froya's Theme," with its epic running time of eight and a half minutes, haunting opening bass, sweeping choir parts and the talent of the phenomenal Lingua Mortis Orchestra. This song is the closest thing to a symphony that Leaves Eyes has -and it makes me want more.
Liv's voice sounds stronger here than on any other Leaves Eyes release -plus it seems like they finally found a good mixing balance between the overpowering metal and her comparatively fragile voice. She sounds particularly great on "Scarborough Fair." The album version is a vast improvement on the acoustic version on the My Destiny EP -it's really the most creative version of the song I've heard. The metal working and symphonic instruments work perfectly together and frame Liv's voice well. It's doubtful that this version has a different vocal track than the acoustic version, but sounds like it has so much more life. It's amazing what some metal and a backing track can do.
The most interesting thing to note about this album is the lower amount of death grunts from Alexander. It feels like less than previous albums. While fans of his grunts shouldn't despair because there are still plenty of grunting parts in "Froya's Theme," "My Destiny," "Emerald Island" and "Njord," there isn't as much grunting as expected. While I was perfectly okay with this (since I'm not too big on the growls), other fans will have serious issues with it.
Njord is the best Leaves Eyes album thus far. It's filled with epic metal, sweeping choirs and beautiful vocal work. It's things like this that make me wonder why they aren't more popular in the states.
At some point, we're all going to have to stop calling Leaves' Eyes a metal band. Yes, there are heavy electric guitars, and yes the band members all have impeccable metal pedigrees, but when your sound is dominated by symphonic keyboards and lullaby vocals, it's hard to think of the band as "metal." Liv Kristine's voice is absolutely beautiful, and is a real asset to the band, but come on; if your lineup includes damn near all of Atrocity, you owe it to yourselves to rock out a bit. Sadly, there's precious little rocking out on the average Leaves' Eyes disc.
On to Njord. This is pretty much exactly what I've come to expect from Leaves' Eyes after Lovelorn and Vinland Saga. Liv Kristine's vocals are front and center, and they're every bit as beautiful and evocative as ever. The only problem is that they are so prominent that literally every other aspect of these songs - with the exception of the sweeping symphonic elements - is pushed to the background. The guitars, bass, and drums all become little more than background noise. Only the occasional male growled vocal lines ever challenge Kristine's performance, and it's those tracks where Alexander Krull lets loose (see "Emerald Isle" and "Ragnarok") that really stand out. The band's cover of the Simon & Garfunkel classic "Scarborough Fair" is also worth hearing, even if it pales in comparison to Queensryche's version. The only other song that stands out from the Disney soundtrack metal pack is "My Destiny," and that's only because it sounds like something Lacuna Coil might have rejected as too nu-metal during the Karmacode sessions.
Of course, if you're already a fan of Leaves' Eyes, none of this is likely to bother you. If you like what you heard on the last two albums, you'll like Njord as well. Just don't expect anything new, and don't expect anything heavy.
Edition Notes: There is also a limited edition version of Njord that comes in a digipack and features two bonus tracks - "Landscape of the Dead" and "Les Champs de Lavande."
This album is definately different. Leaves' Eyes are evolving, and I like where they are going. When I first heard a friends' copy of this album, the word that ran through my mind was that this album was more "involved" than their other albums. Although, I liked it so much, I had to purchase a copy of my own.
It is true that this album has some run-of-the mill/take-or-leave songs. The ones that you have to listen to many times before you think, "OK, this is catchy". But for me, all of Leaves' Eyes albums have that. However, the catch here is that this album has some songs that are so awesome they make the album worth it.
Liv Kristine's voice is beautiful, this is widely agreed. Her vocals on this album are fantastic. She uses an operatic style more, which is amazing. I am so glad she did this. Her vocals get better with every album. I saw a lot of complaints about Alex's grunting on this album. Really, Liv and Alex have found a good combination of their vocals- they work better together than on their other albums. They actually complement each other more on this album.
They begin with the title track "Njord" which instantly has me hooked. I really like this song. I won't go into depth on the songs, other people have done that. Just know this is a good one.
"My Destiny" was, at first, take-or-leave with me. However, after hearing it maybe 3 times, I really like it. I like the way this song is constructed.
"Eemerald Island" is one I almost really like. It's lovely, but lacking something.
Their cover of "Scarborough Fair" is beautfiful. Liv sings this so pretty, then they put a touch of metal that really works. At first I wasn't impressed by this one. I love this song, and I think perhaps expected more. But when I opened up to it, I realized it is done very well. By the way, Liv's voice works great for Celtic style music. She does Celtic style quite a bit on this album, and I love the way it sounds with her voice.
"Ragnarok" is one of my favorites on this album. This is probably the hardest song they have done (at least, in my opinion). This song hits a type of metal that I really like. Alexander and Liv have really made their vocals work together on this album, and this is a song that supports that.
"Morgenland" is simple, soft, beautiful. I know some people don't like it, but this song will sweep you away if you let it.
The absolute gem of this album is "Froya's Theme". This song is progressive metal, and it's just amazing. If there ever is a question that Leaves' Eyes is evolving as a band, listen to this song. This is advanced, and it's fantastic. It's done beautifully. I can't express how much I like this song, you just have to hear it for yourself. Don't rely on the music sampler for this one. There is a lot to this song and the sampler doesn't even begin to touch it.
These are opinions coming from someone that likes this band a lot, but I'm no worshipper, so these are honest opinions. The songs I mentioned are all my favorites on this album. "Njord", "Ragnarok" and "Froya's Theme" are ultimate my favorites on here. The bonus tracks are quite good too. "Lanscape of the Dead" is catchy and grew on me by the second listen. I am really glad about the bonus tracks.
In conclusion, try not to see this as Leaves' Eyes abandoning their style. This is definately still Leaves' Eyes, but they are growing, and I hope their fans welcome this.
*NOTE: Although the album art is pretty, this cd is not packaged well. It has one of those cardboard covers that flop open, which I am not a fan of. Also, this album didn't come with their music video like they normally do. I thought this cd would include the video for "My Destiny" but sadly it doesn't.
UPDATE: Upon further listening, the songs I wasn't fascinated by at first have definately grown on me. Especially "Take the Devil in Me", "Through Our Veins". They really are very good.