Leaves’ Eyes is a Finnish-German symphonic metal band. Formed in 2003 by former vocalist Liv Kristine and the line-up of Atrocity, the band is considered one of the important formations in the symphonic metal scene. After the successful release of “King of Kings” in 2015, the band parted ways with the co-founder and the vocalist Liv Kristine last year (or she was fired from the band?? We will never know I guess) and so the band welcomed the new vocalist Elina Siirala. Although some fans still want explanation and find it hard to accept the fact that Liv is gone, the band has moved on and they are about to deliver us the full-length album “Sign of the Dragonhead”. This album is also the first full-length album featuring Elina on vocals.
After a little bit of prejudgment and a few spins, I tried to look at the album from an objective perspective. Overall, the record is definitely not bad. It may be average (isn’t it kinda hard to produce something unique in the symphonic metal scene nowadays anyway?…) but it is not awful. From the first spin, most of the songs will stay on your mind; I especially loved that magical combination of the female vocals and the symphonic ‘nordic’ melodies. Some of you may still be ‘hating on’ the new vocalist but Elina is quite the talent and this will show from the first spin. You can definitely see that she has her heart and soul in this band and so first things first: Give her a chance and you will like the album a bit more. Another highlight is definitely this combination of the folk/medieval/symphonic metal approach. As a matter of fact, this was the reason how I got into Leaves’ Eyes (with the album “Meredead” released in 2011) so kudos to the band for a catchy album and for that great mix of styles.
Speaking of the current dynamics of the band, I gotta admit I lowered the expectations after the departure of Liv. However, when we leave the prejudgments and the ‘drama’ aside, we see that the new dynamics of the band is not so bad. The new singer already proved her place in the band with the previous EP as well as the live shows and got quite a nice feedback from the fans. All in all, she is surely talented and her vocal style fits well to the songs. This album proves this one more; we see that the band feels more as a whole and compared to the previous EP, I also felt a bit of an improvement in the overall sound and the atmosphere in the album. Furthermore, I gotta admit I was never a fan of Alexander’s vocals so I have to say that the band made the right decision to focus more on the female vocals and the orchestrations and so Alexander’s (not-so-well-produced) vocals stay in the background…which is a huge plus.
One thing I always found weak in Leaves’ Eyes records has been the production and this hasn’t changed. I always expect a lot of epicness and the powerful choirs reflecting the melodies in the front but all I hear is a blurry production sadly… Furthermore, Alex’s vocals somehow feel left out even though the growls are an essential part of the Leaves’ Eyes sound. So production is definitely a weak point of this band and something they have to work on. Another question we all need to ask is: New band, new sound (kind-of…) and the band surely wants to make a fresh start… so why go on with the name Leaves’ Eyes? I say make a fresh start with a new name now that the co-founder is gone; I am sure half of the fans will approve of this and maybe give the band another chance.
For the fans who have never heard of the band, this album will surely satisfy you. However, I can definitely see that this album will still be hard to accept for the fans of Liv Kristine. Regardless of your hatred/love for Liv/Alex, leave the prejudgments aside and give this album a chance. It’s not the best and not all songs stand out but it’s fair to say that the the band delivered us a smooth and catchy album to listen to.
Highlights: Jomsborg, Voelva, Waves of Euphoria
Alexander Krull – keyboards, backing vocals
Thorsten Bauer – guitars, bass
Joris Nijenhuis – drums
Pete Streit – guitars
Elina Siirala – lead vocals