Leaves’ Eyes – “The Last Viking” – Review

Leaves’ Eyes – “The Last Viking” – Review

2nd November 2020 0 By Gavin Griffiths

The last time we checked up on LEAVES’ EYES, the Gothic-symphonic supergroup had released their 2018 album “Sign Of The Dragonhead” …it was an interesting period of transition for the band, as they had recently parted ways with their long-time established vocalist Liv Kristine, and secured the talents of a replacement Finnish singer by the name of Elina Siirala. Her soprano vocal approach fit the bands classically Nordic metal sound well, as with most bands of the same ilk, but it was a relatively safe record with nothing to really highlight any significant growth. 2020 sees them return with their newest collection of tracks on the album “The Last Viking” …clichés at the ready folks, let’s check it out. 

We open up with “Death Of A King” and it acts as your standard album intro track. Aside from a couple of grunts and haunting operatic notes it’s essentially a dramatic instrumental; comprising of your traditional Nordic aesthetics like, tribal drums and horns, and the whole thing comes across as quite cinematic, albeit recycled. Its produced well and gives you a clear idea of what you’re in for over the remainder of the album.  

First track proper then is “Chain Of The Golden Horn” and as predicted it’s everything you’d expect of the genre really. Elina’s vocals are clear and clean and she delivers effectively over the by-numbers symphonic metal, we get a neat little solo thrown in and it’s all been produced well…but the duel vocal approach needs bringing up again. Last time around, the contrast between Elina and Alexander Krull was too much, and the combination of her soaring softness and his guttural growls just didn’t gel…here we are faced with the exact same issue; they just don’t sit right together. It can work, and does for others, but here the tonality just doesn’t feel right. 

We do follow this up with one of our albums highlights however, as “Dark Love Empress” channels all of the WITHIN TEMPTATION for a soft piano-led piece of Gothic drama and dark, symphonic glamour, with another fine solo to boot, and it’s generally just a solid track. “Black Butterfly” too utilises all of the melodic metal hooks and makes great use of guest vocalist Clementine Delauney…the French vocalist is no stranger to operatic metal and only boosts the track, highlighting just how out of place Krull’s growling is. 

He doesn’t completely ruin things however… ”Two Kings One Realm” finds him reeling his performance in for more of a subdued, almost spoken work baritone and the minimal, low-fi performance is a welcome one. The subtle middle Eastern string notes coupled with the deeper, Gothic vibe allows for an almost TIAMAT inspired track and it’s another album highlight, before “Varangians” gets lost somewhere between pirate metal and Irish folk. I think that has to be the most drunken human being on the planet…an Irish, Viking pirate…no wonder he’s the last of his kind, liver transplants weren’t invented for another 900 years! 

I digress. While once again we have a well-produced album like its predecessor, with some enjoyable moments, it still suffers, maybe suffers is a strong word, but it retains the same flaws. Elina is a wonderful vocalist and projects herself very well, but the operatic vocals ARE an acquired taste, and can get too much at times. Krull for the most part contributes the same issues with HIS vocal delivery, sounding really jarring when side by side with Elina, while the album’s overall sound again doesn’t really bring much of anything new to the table. It’s another symphonic metal album about Viking’s…mead I say more? Get it? Vikings…mead…never mind, where’s that drunken pirate gone… 

Track List:

  1. “Death Of A King”
  2. “Chain Of The Golden Horn”
  3. “Dark Love Empress”
  4. “Serpents And Dragons”
  5. “Black Butterfly”
  6. “War Of Kings”
  7. “For Victory”
  8. “Two Kings One Realm”
  9. “Flames In The Sky”
  10. “Serkland”
  11. “Varangians”
  12. “Night Of The Ravens”
  13. “The Last Viking”
  14. “Break Into The Sky Of Aeon”

    Record Label: AFM Records

    Release Date: October 23rd

    For all things Leaves’ Eyes, click HERE and to purchase the album, click HERE

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