Symphonic Metal / Folk Metal • Multi-National
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Leaves' Eyes is a gothic/symphonic metal band with folk metal elements from Stavanger, Norway and Ludwigsburg, Germany. The band assembled in 2003, shortly before singer Liv Kristine was fired from Theatre of Tragedy. Leaves' Eyes currently consists of Liv Kristine (female vocals), Alexander Krull (male vocals, programming), Thorsten Bauer (guitars), Sander van der Meer (guitars), Niels Löffler (bass) and Joris Nijenhuis (drums). Former members include Martin Schmidt (drums, left in 2004), Chris Lukhaup (bass, left in 2007), Moritz Neuner (drums, left in 2007), Nicholas Barker (drums, left in 2007), Mathias Röderer (guitars, left in 2010), Alla Fedynitch of Enemy of the Sun and Eyes of Eden (bass, left in 2010), Seven Antonopolous (drums & percussion, left in 2010), Roland Navratil (drums, left in 2012), JB van der Wal (bass, left in 2013) and Felix Born (drums, left in 2013).

Leaves' Eyes was formed by Liv with her husband, Alexander Krull,
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LEAVES' EYES Discography

LEAVES' EYES albums / top albums

LEAVES' EYES Lovelorn album cover 2.06 | 8 ratings
Symphonic Metal 2004
LEAVES' EYES Vinland Saga album cover 3.25 | 4 ratings
Vinland Saga
Symphonic Metal 2005
LEAVES' EYES Njord album cover 2.70 | 5 ratings
Symphonic Metal 2009
LEAVES' EYES Meredead album cover 4.22 | 11 ratings
Folk Metal 2011
LEAVES' EYES Symphonies of the Night album cover 3.85 | 4 ratings
Symphonies of the Night
Symphonic Metal 2013
LEAVES' EYES King of Kings album cover 3.67 | 3 ratings
King of Kings
Symphonic Metal 2015
LEAVES' EYES Sign of the Dragonhead album cover 3.57 | 3 ratings
Sign of the Dragonhead
Symphonic Metal 2018

LEAVES' EYES EPs & splits

LEAVES' EYES Elegy album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Symphonic Metal 2005
LEAVES' EYES Legend Land album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Legend Land
Symphonic Metal 2006
LEAVES' EYES My Destiny album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
My Destiny
Symphonic Metal 2009
LEAVES' EYES At Heaven's End album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
At Heaven's End
Symphonic Metal 2010
LEAVES' EYES Melusine album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Symphonic Metal 2011
LEAVES' EYES Fires in the North album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Fires in the North
Symphonic Metal 2016

LEAVES' EYES live albums

LEAVES' EYES We Came with the Northern Winds – En Saga I Belgia album cover 5.00 | 1 ratings
We Came with the Northern Winds – En Saga I Belgia
Symphonic Metal 2009

LEAVES' EYES demos, promos, fans club and other releases (no bootlegs)

LEAVES' EYES Njord radio promo CD album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Njord radio promo CD
Symphonic Metal 2009

LEAVES' EYES re-issues & compilations

LEAVES' EYES singles (1)

.. Album Cover
0.00 | 0 ratings
Into Your Light
Symphonic Metal 2004

LEAVES' EYES movies (DVD, Blu-Ray or VHS)

.. Album Cover
5.00 | 1 ratings
We Came with the Northern Winds – En Saga I Belgia
Symphonic Metal 2009


LEAVES' EYES Sign of the Dragonhead

Album · 2018 · Symphonic Metal
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It can be hard for longtime fans of a band when a founding member suddenly departs, especially when that founding member happens to be a singer with a very distinctive voice like Liv Kristine. Well, that’s exactly what happened with Leaves’ Eyes in 2016, and while I won’t go into details (because that sort of thing is best left kept between band members) it sure sounds like the two parties didn’t part ways on good terms, which makes the situation even harder for fans to take. Personally, I’ve always found Leaves’ Eyes to be one of those bands who I can always rely on to deliver a solid album, but they rarely blow me away, outside of their 2011 release Meredead, which surprised me with its extensive focus on Celtic folk, and while I always enjoy their music, I wouldn’t put them up there with the likes of Nightwish, Epica, Within Temptation or Xandria as my favorite symphonic metal bands. With that being said, I am a fan of both Liv Kristine and her replacement Elina Siirala, and so I was interested to see what this new lineup would do all their first full-length release, following the Fires in the North EP in 2016. After waiting over a year, the band is finally set to release their seventh full-length album, Sign of the Dragonhead in 2018, but does it represent the start of a new era, or is it a sign that the band should call it quits? As usual, the truth is somewhere in between, in that there’s nothing here that truly blows me away, but it’s definitely a solid album that’s sure to please fans of the band, as long as they’re willing to give Elina Siirala a chance.

For their first few albums, Leaves’ Eyes seemed to be changing things up slightly each time, with Meredead in particular feeling like a shift into longer songs as well as being the album to put the most emphasis on folk elements, while its predecessor Njord, was perhaps the band’s heaviest and most gothic sounding album. Ever since Meredead, though, it feels like the band has started blending the two sounds together, with Symphonies of the Night and King of Kings both providing a steady mix of symphonic, gothic metal and Celtic folk, as well little bits of power metal here and there. I was curious to see whether or not the change in vocalist would also lead to a change in musical direction, but at least so far that isn’t the case, as Sign of the Dragonhead feels very similar to its two closest predecessors. Fans can expect some heavier tracks which mix in some gothic elements, including the expected death growls, as well as some lighter tracks, a ballad, some more folk-infused tracks, one speedy power metal track, and an 8-minute epic that closes out the album. Which is to say, this is quite the varied album, so at the very least it should keep most fans of the band happy, and the songwriting is fairly solid all around, with one exception. Musically, everything sounds tight as always, and while there’s nothing overly flashy going on, at least from the metal instruments, everything is well done and there are some good riffs and a few nice solos here and there. The symphonic arrangements and folk instruments stand out the most, as usual, but on the whole, it’s a nice sounding and well-produced album, as expected.

Obviously, the biggest point of interest on this album is the vocals, seeing as it’s the debut of Elina Siirala. I’ve reviewed both albums she’s done with her other band Angel Nation, so I was familiar with her voice before hearing this album and was already a fan, so it’s little surprise that I enjoy her vocals on this album a lot. She uses an operatic approach, like what Liv Kristine had been doing for a while, though her voice is a bit deeper and has a slightly darker tone. She doesn’t sound as distinct as Liv Kristine, but her voice is very nice and she does an excellent job throughout the album, sometimes using her operatic vocals in a very light and accessible way, while other times opening up a bit more and singing with more power, but she sounds equally great on every song and definitely fits in very well with the band. As usual, keyboardist Alexander Krull provides some growls, and once again, while his deep growls are powerful, they sound a bit forced to me, and there’s just something about how he uses them that I find a bit irritating, so the harsh vocal sections tend to be my least favorite parts of the album, just as they’ve always been.

The album gets off to a strong start with the title track, a rather fast-paced and epic symphonic metal track, which makes great use of its symphonic arrangements throughout. It has some pretty heavy lead riffs as well, and is definitely one of the harder hitting tracks on the album, as well as having one of the better choruses, where Elina instantly shines and proves herself to be a worthy vocalist for the band. There’s a brief harsh vocal section later on, which doesn’t bother me too much, and overall it’s an excellent start to the album. Next is “Across the Sea”, which opens up with some nice folk melodies, and it’s a very folk-infused track, where Elina’s vocals are very soft throughout in a pleasant way that carries the melodies well and blends in nicely with the music. It has a very catchy chorus and is one of my favorite tracks on the album. After that is “Like a Mountain”, a slower track which opens with a soft piano section where Elina uses some very strong operatic vocals. Once the song gets going, though, it’s a fairly standard symphonic metal track. The vocals are great throughout and there are some nice melodies, but it’s a fairly unremarkable track overall, aside from that great opening, and a similar section in the second half.

The rest of the album is quite varied and is fairly solid throughout, with a few standouts here and there. Going into some favorites, we have three folks infused tracks in “Jomsborg”, “Völva” and “Riders of the Wind”, which are all right next to each other. The first of these stands out to due to some very effective gang vocals, which add to the overall feeling of the track and help make it more epic, though musically it already has some great Celtic folk melodies, moves at a nice pace and has an excellent chorus, so it’s a very strong track overall. The middle track here is probably the least memorable of the three and is the slowest paced, though it has some great melodies and a great chorus as well, where the harsh vocals work effectively as backing vocals, though one harsh vocal section later in the track is a bit annoying. Lastly, “Riders of the Wind” is the most upbeat of the folk-infused tracks here, and it probably has the strongest Celtic folk influence, with some very nice melodies throughout, as well as some epic backing vocals and another amazing chorus. It’s a very fun and extremely catchy track which uses the folk elements particularly well, and the use of marching drums, later on, is pretty awesome. One last favorite is “Shadows of the Night”, a speedy symphonic power metal track, with great riffs and excellent vocals from Elina. Even the harsh vocal section, later on, is quite effective, and overall it’s the fastest track on the album, as well as one of the heavier songs, and it’s definitely one of the catchiest and most fun as well.

On the less memorable side of things, the ballad “Fairer Than the Sun” has some great vocals, but it never really gets going, with even the chorus not being overly strong, and aside from a nice guitar solo in the middle, there isn’t much about it that stands out. Fans may have already heard “Fires in the North” from the EP in 2016, and while it’s a solid mid-tempo track with a nice chorus, it’s another one of those songs which feel like fairly run of the mill symphonic metal to me. Lastly, we have the closing 8-minute epic “Waves of Euphoria”. To me, this track feels like the band’s attempt at a heavier, more extreme brand of symphonic metal in the style of Epica and newer Xandria, but while it has its moments, particularly the chorus where Elina really shines, the track overall comes up well short of its ambitions, unfortunately. Musically, the riffs are decent but nowhere near as strong as Epica’s guitar work, and on a compositional level, the song is decent but not as complex or impressive as what either band I mentioned has done in recent years. Worst of all, Alexander’s harsh vocals seem especially irritating on this track and really get on my nerves at points. There’s one really memorable guitar melody around halfway through, and Elina sounds excellent throughout, but otherwise, I find the track to be a fairly disappointing ending to the album.

Overall, Sign of the Dragonhead is a solid symphonic metal album which starts a new chapter for Leaves’ Eyes in much the same way as the last one ended, meaning it’s another enjoyable album, which mostly meets expectations, but musically it doesn’t quite reach the heights of some of the elite players in the genre. It does provide a nice blend of symphonic metal and Celtic folk, as well as strong gothic elements and occasional power metal elements, and I think it should please most fans of Leaves’ Eyes who are willing to give Elina Siirala a fair chance. I’d say it’s roughly on par with King of Kings and Symphonies of the Night, but not on the same level as Meredead.

originally written for myglobalmind.com: https://myglobalmind.com/2017/12/07/leaves-eyes-sign-dragonhead-review/

LEAVES' EYES Symphonies of the Night

Album · 2013 · Symphonic Metal
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Symphonies of the Night (2013) is the fifth full-length album by German/Norwegian symphonic metal act Leaves' Eyes. I've had a bit of a love/hate relationship with this band since I first heard them, in that I did not find their third album Njord (2009) to be remarkable in the slightest, but later had to do a 180 with my opinion on the band when they released Meredead (2011), an album that saw them increase their Celtic folk elements dramatically. Rarely has there been a change in direction that much for the better in my view. Therefore Symphonies of the Night is a follow-up I've been pretty eager to hear, as here was a band who had suddenly turned from a band I didn't like into one that had potential to become a favourite.

This is where we hit a snag in this story though, because on Symphonies of the Night Leaves' Eyes have regressed back into their old more straight up symphonic metal sound, that had some often strong leanings into gothic metal. Celtic folk music still plays a role in the album but where Meredead could easily be said to equally belong to the folk metal genre as much as the symphonic metal one Symphonies of the Night makes its use of folk distinct by pointedly separating it from the heavy parts in most instances. Doing so has always been an effective practice in symphonic metal music but after Meredead was a near masterpiece this revert back to more familiar territory for the band is disappointing for me to say the least.

All this said, Symphonies of the Night is a more impressive album that Njord was right from the off and ironically it even addresses the one major issue I did have with Meredead, namely Alexander Krull's harsh vocals. His growl sounded rather weak last time around but here he sounds really strong, and while I could easily listen to Leaves' Eyes with just the vocals of frontwoman Liv Kristine, Alexander's improved growl makes all the difference to keeping the album flowing smoothly. If he'd sounded like this on Meredead that album could potentially have broken into the top tier ratings.

But enough about how this isn't Meredead; I thought that album was a step in the right direction, but clearly given the direction of Symphonies of the Night the band had other ideas and you know what all things considered that's fine, because this is a pretty good symphonic metal album. It'll never be better than Meredead in my view and it's certainly not the best release from the symphonic genre I've heard this year, but it does have plenty of its own merits. Not least among them the fact that there's not a bad track on it and they still use enough elements from outside symphonic/gothic metal to stand out from the crowd, including a power metal track, Éléonore de Provence, which is also a standout along with Maid of Lorraine.

Overall Symphonies of the Night isn't exactly jaw-dropping but it's generally of a high quality and if this had been the album to follow Njord, which as I've stated I did not like, I'd be very pleased with how far forward the band had come. But because it follows Meredead I'm disappointed by it. It's not even that for the genre there's anything particularly wrong with it but while Meredead was more adventurous with their influences to result in something very different to Njord, this one just feels like the band were playing it safe and doing something familiar and that's more than the one step backwards in terms of artist evolution to me. Honestly in terms of sound Symphonies of the Night can sit quite comfortably on the same page as Njord. The only difference of course is the writing being of a higher quality, which makes all the difference and the reason why, despite the negative way this review will have read, that I'm still prepared to give Symphonies of the Night a great album tier rating.


(Originally written for Heavy Metal Haven: http://metaltube.freeforums.org/leaves-eyes-symphonies-of-the-night-t3268.html)


Album · 2011 · Folk Metal
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Meredead is the fourth full-length album from German/Norwegian metal band Leaves’ Eyes. I have to be honest here, I came to this release not expecting an awful lot as I found the group’s previous offering Njord to be decidedly generic ‘beauty and the beast’ style symphonic metal, albeit with a much larger focus on the female vocals than the death growls. However I’m pleased to report that with Meredead Leaves’ Eyes have pleasantly surprised me with their brand of symphonic/folk metal and that with the exception of a few weaker moments the release is consistently strong.

Although Leaves’ Eyes is often listed as being a symphonic or gothic metal band (the former of which is the truer one of the two), on Meredead while there is some tracks that lack it entirely, the release in general is very much folk driven, surprisingly a lot more so than many so called folk metal bands. The common use of acoustic guitars and folk instruments such as Uileann Pipes and Fiddle is one of the best factors in Meredead, keeping it from being ‘just another female fronted symphonic metal album’.

Although I am generally impressed by Meredead, there are a few moments in it that spoil the overall experience. Mostly notably there is the pointless interlude track Veritas, which adds literally nothing to the overall experience of listening to the album. At not even a minute long it just flies by without anything noteworthy happening and seems to have no connections to the track that follows it, Nystev. There’s also the matter of the vocals. While lead singer Liv Kristine performs flawlessly there are also some rare inclusions of growls from keyboardist Alexander Krull, which in the lengthy track Sigrlinn come across as decidedly weak (they were actually better on Njord, ironically), spoiling what is essentially one of the album’s gems. Alexander Krull’s vocals are something of a rarity on Meredead however, which is a good thing. It’s not to say his vocals are cringe worthy, they just really stand out for all the wrong reasons. Fortunately Sigrlinn is powerful in other ways, which save it.

Another good thing is that there is more to praise on Meredead than there is to pan. Aside from the fact that the album is generally more folk driven than Njord was which gives it a lot more flavour, compositionally it also dominates the previous album, with songs coming across with structures that I didn’t quite expect and also with a lot of fresh ideas. In general Meredead doesn’t actually come across as being as heavy as Njord was, which was actually pretty heavy for a symphonic metal album, but the quality of the songs makes that little fact inconsequential.

The inclusion of a few covers doesn’t even go amiss either. One cover is Mike Oldfield’s To France, which the band put out a music video far. I personally don’t know the original of it, only the version German power metal band Blind Guardian did. The song is a nice addition as part of the whole package but not an individual highlight. The cover covers are of traditional Norwegian folk songs (Kråkevisa & Nystev). I enjoyed their inclusions a lot actually, and I’d consider Kråkevisa especially as a highlight of the disc, though the album’s real strengths lay in tracks such as opener Spirits' Masquerade, Étaín, and the title track.

The only Leaves’ Eyes album I’m personally familiar with is this one and Njord, so I really can’t say if this is a return to form or the sound of a band finally finding their feet. Either way, Meredead is certainly a major step up from Njord in all aspects accept the aforementioned death growls, which could easily have been left out of the album and been all the better for it. But despite its faults I’m still pretty impressed by Meredead and it pleases me to have been proved wrong about an album that I was ready to write off.

(Originally written for Heavy Metal Haven, scoring 8.9/10)

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