Meredead by Leaves’ Eyes (Napalm Records)
Breathtaking and magical are the best words to describe the latest magnum opus from Leaves’ Eyes. Meredead is the fourth effort from the band and it’s their most ambitious work of metallic art to date. There has always been a sense of enchantment with the amazing vocal work of Liv Kristine, dating back to her tenure in Theatre Of Tragedy. And on Meredead, the delightful Ms. Kristine has never sounded more radiant, exuding a wide range of singing that is absolutely magnificent to behold. Symphonic metal in its finest hour, Meredead possesses a dozen thrilling tracks guaranteed to dazzle the senses of music fans from all over the world.
Meredead starts off with the glorious reveries of Spirit’s Masquerade, a superb introduction that transcends both time and genres. With bombastic choruses and sweeping musical interludes accompanied by the best singing Liv Kristine has ever recorded, Spirit’s Masquerade is a sheer triumph is wondrous sound. And this is only the first song on the album!
Up next is the vast and glorious Étaín; brilliantly mixing in folk with a metal soundtrack that is purely exquisite. Velvet Heart is a definitive highlight with angelic choirs and tender vocals singing longingly about the “ashes of love.” Kråkevisa is one of the tracks on Meredead sung in Norwegian, featuring traditional instruments and metal guitars that render the song a timeless classic.
On the last album Njord, Leaves Eyes did a mesmerizing cover of Simon and Garfunkel’s Scarborough Fair, breathing new life into the old standard. Lightning strikes twice on Meredead, with a captivating cover of Mike Oldfield’s To France that could easily become a breakthrough hit single for Leaves’ Eyes.
The title track Meredead possesses beauty and mystery, haunting the soul with its sweeping melodies. Sigrlinn may run nearly nine minutes in length, but this epic of a track is eloquent and musically dynamic, also featuring mighty growled vocals from Leaves Eyes’ keyboardist (and Liv Kristine’s husband) Alexander Krull.
On Mine Tåror er ei Grimme, Leaves Eyes’ goes into Loreena McKennitt territory, presenting a tender ballad that tugs at the heartstrings. Empty Horizon has luminescent keyboards underscoring this impassioned musical journey of a song.
The brief refrains of Veritas segue way into the marvels of dazzling Nystev. Tell-Tale Eyes concludes Meredead on a wildly intriguing note and is the perfect send off from an album that listeners will want to experience time and again.
Whether you like the grandiose refrains of symphonic metal or the more intimate sounds of traditional folk music, there is a world of adventure and fascination to be found within the magical world of Leaves’ Eyes. Meredead is their masterwork – the album destined to be their celebrated musical legacy for the ages to come.
(Review by Kenneth Morton)
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