|Review: Leaves' Eyes - Vinland Saga|
Label: Napalm Records
Year released: 2005
Genre: Symphonic Metal
Review online: May 3, 2007
Reviewed by: Bruce Dragonchaser
For some reason or another, I found myself watching the dreadful re-runs of American Idol on cable the other day. It led my mind into some rather dark, disturbing corners of thought that I'd prefer not to remember. What a load. Haven't we seen enough freaks enjoy ephemeral celebrity status spearheaded by their criminally rudimentary talents? I guess not. Us Brits aren't much better either, with The X Factor – the UK equivalent – taking over lives and strapping middle-aged parents to the sofa every Saturday. Why are people bothered? It makes me sick that this borderline suffering can exploit the public's sympathy and somehow trade indolence with entertainment. Can television executives not produce anything original? That's where Leaves' Eyes come in.
I can easily affiliate this gothic/symphonic metal sextet to the aforementioned American Idol as the same frustrating rules apply: there is nothing new to see here, there are no reasons to become involved, yet its secure, comfortable structure will hold people's attention like magnets. Take the sleeve design; purrrrrrty ain't it? The beautiful form of operatic goddess Liv Kristine posing in a tight-fitting dress isn't exactly hard on the eyes, and what's that you say? You get a video! Wow, I need to see this; quick, love, pass the tissues over would you? Obviously a very shrewd marketing ploy, as the music within wouldn't generate much hype if it were encased in a grisly photo of the rest of the band, the entire crew of Kristine's bed warmer Alexander Krull and his Atrocity squad. Aside from the rather provocative promo clip and the eye-pleasing sleeve design there is really little to get excited about. When I was expecting huge choirs, and inventive musicianship ala After Forever and Epica, I was sadly greeted by neo-folk/quasi-Viking metal dusted with cold, gothic overtones (predominately in pace) and wailing operatic vocals from the aforesaid Kristine. In truth, this blows. There is no felicity to be found, no inducement to hear more, and no alleviation to make this experience any more enjoyable. This really is a boring album of gothic nonsense. The pace rarely surpasses plodding, the melodies are seldom memorable, and the performance of the overall band is tame, domesticated and just plain average.
There is a fair amount of keys and overly used orchestrations – particularly on "Farewell Proud Men"- not enough speed, nor enough immediacy. The guitars are way too heavy to balance out the light tones of Kristine's voice, and the mix (done by Krull himself) is ghastly, plugging the whole thing full of muddy guitars and thick bass tones. If you're after a decent female fronted metal album, spend your hard earned on something first-class like After Forever's "Reimagine" or Autumn's "My New Time". If there was such thing as a European Metal Idol, Kristine and co. wouldn't have even passed the auditions.
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