|Review: Leaves' Eyes - Njord|
Label: Napalm Records
Year released: 2009
Genre: Gothic Metal
Review online: September 1, 2009
Reviewed by: Bruce Dragonchaser
In spite of being one of most recognized and widely regarded names in the female-fronted metal universe, Norwegian/German/American stalwarts Leaves' Eyes have only released two full-length albums to date - the first being 2004's famous debut Lovelorn, the other 2005's dire follow up, Vinland Saga – and after a string of EPs and other miscellaneous releases, the ostensible veterans have finally unleashed their third opus, the haunting Njord, which I must say, offers a number of surprises.
For a start, this is far more bearable than the plodding Vinland Saga. Mainly due to a nice, crisp production job, Njord is the first Leaves' Eyes album that has balls, and is not afraid to use them. With tracks like "My Destiny" and the crushing "Through Our Veins", Liv Kristine and her band of pillaging Norsemen serve up some tasty riffs that could devastate even Amon Amarth, proving that Gothic Metal isn't always about subtlety. But that does not necessarily make Njord a heavy release; there is a great deal of tenderness to be found on songs such as "Take the Devil in Me" and the acoustically-driven "Irish Rain", tracks which show just how archaically beautiful Kristine's delicate vocals can be. Like their previous albums, the symphonics play a large role without over dominating the bigger picture, and for once there is actually some variation in pace, with the storming "Emerald Island" being the fastest song the band have produced thus far, and the epic album closer their most progressively intricate.
However, unlike other bands of their ilk, Leaves' Eyes fail to keep me interested after a couple of listens; their music being so depressingly ponderous. And yet while Njord is their best album to date, I doubt Liv Kristine will be leading her fleet into radically foreign waters any time soon.
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