Band: Leaves’ Eyes
EP name: Fires In The North
Release date: November 4th
Record Label: AFM Records
On November 4th, Leaves’ Eyes released their new EP in the USA and Canada. The epic metal hymn called Fires In The North will be the 6th EP released by the Norwegian – German Symphonic Metal band. Since Leaves’ Eyes has released a full album in the fall of 2015, this EP contains one new song, an acoustic cover of this song and three new versions of songs from the latest 2015 album King of Kings. Curious how this new EP will add to their extensive catalogue, read on!
Let me first quickly introduce the band. Leaves’ Eyes is a Norwegian – German symphonic metal band from Stavanger, Norway and Ludwigsburg, Germany. They were formed in 2003 by Liv Kristine, the former lead singer of Theatre of Tragedy and the entire line-up of Atrocity. Most of Leaves’ Eyes lyrics, written by Liv Kristine, concern Norse mythology and the Viking Age. The melodic singing vocals of Liv Kristine are occasionally backed up by death growled vocals from Krull, identified under the vocal style Kristine refers to as “beauty and the beast”. The current line up consists of Elina Siirala and Alexander Krull on vocals, Thorsten Bauer on guitar and bass, Pete Streit on guitar and Joris Nijenhuis on drums.
When the first song, Fires In The North, starts, I immediately got the feeling “so this is how a Viking ritual would sound like”. The heavy drums and vocals really create an atmosphere that is appropriate for a song with this title. The beautiful voice of Elina Siirala who replaced Liv Kristine earlier this year, is accompanied with the harsh vocals of Alexander Krull in a way that is very characteristic for the overall “Leaves’ Eyes sound”. The song has a very good build up towards the chorus where the symphonic epicness explodes as we are used to with Leaves’ Eyes. During the chorus, instead of a distorted guitar, an acoustic guitar plays the rhythm parts, giving the whole a more authentic sound, making the topic, Vikings, even more believable and present. The second song is an acoustic version of Fires In The North. Although I often appreciate acoustic versions, since they really bring a whole new dimension of the songs forward, this is exactly the same song but played on acoustic instruments. Therefore, it barely adds anything to the experience.
The other three songs on the album are reworks as previously stated. I think the main reason for this is the change of line up. Elina Siirala has the typical opera voice as well-known within the Symphonic Metal scene. Compared to Liv Kristine, Elina Siirala could be more easily compared to the opera voice of Simone Simmons (Epica) and Liv Kristine with Tarja Turunen (former Nightwish). Indeed, this is not really much of a difference. Aside from this change of leading vocals, the songs have remained the same as on the King of Kings. The mixing, however, on Fires In The North, is much clearer and more balanced than on the full album.
My overall thoughts on this album are not too positive. Even though I really like the song Fires In The North, I strongly believe that it should have been released either as a single or on a new album. As mentioned before, the acoustic version doesn’t add anything for me as I think it’s rather poorly executed. They could have gotten way more out of it aside from just removing distortion. Besides that, I believe that an EP should be about bringing new music to the table and an occasional rework. The reworks on this EP are nothing more than new vocals added and no changes to the song (so I doubt the word rework is justified here). Aside from the acoustic version, only 1 song has been released of which I am a bit disappointed.
I rate this album a 6/10 although the song Fires In The North definitely would deserve at least a 9/10. Unfortunately, the reworks and acoustic version of Fires In The North killed it for me.
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