Leaves Eyes – Meredead (2011) Album Review

I remember encountering Leaves Eyes some years ago, I think it was around 2007 or 2008 when before released their 3rd album, Njord. I remember that I was attending one of their concerts back then, they were not headliner but it was kinda unusual to see so many people interested in a band other than the headliner. I got a little bit curious about them, after I found out that one of their members also plays in Atrocity and another one was a member of Theatre of Tragedy. I was into a feast, to be honest I did not imagine Liv Kristen being so much better in another band than Theatre of Tragedy. She surely managed to impress me with songs such as Lovelorn, Legend Land, Into Your Light, Elegy or Vinland Saga, basically songs that honor the Norse ancestors, the viking civilization, one of the most appreciated civilization by many bands.

After being enchanted by this band’ live performance I quickly searched for their discography to have a listen. Actually I was impressed by the fact that they could put such a show, seeing that this band was rather new, formed back in 2003, immediately after Liv Kristine left Theatre of Tragedy. This is a family project Liv Kristine being married to Alexander Krull, another founding member of the band and also original member of Atrocity, band that in their early days used to play a sort of technical death metal recently approaching a new style, a combination between gothic metal and industrial metal.

So what can you hear while listening to Leaves Eyes? Not the style played in Atrocity, nor the style approached in Theatre of Tragedy, but a rather new approach. Symphonic metal combined with folk elements, elements that make this band stand out. Liv’s voice is the most amazing while playing this sort of style, it fits her style of singing the most, while Alexander seems out of place, his vocals, usually screamed or grunted, are pretty much boring and disturbing and not suitable for the style this band approaches. I wish that he would at least use his clean vocals from Atrocity rather than grunts or screams, seeing that this band does not approach an extreme side of metal but rather a soft side, a mainstream side so to say.

Anyway, it is their choice what they choose to do, but his voice was always a minus for me to them, because the songs where Liv sings solo are splendid and amazing (Into Your Light or Elegy) while the songs that feature the duo singing are pretty much boring, monotone and unmemorable, probably the only exception is Legend Land where Alexander’s voice is used to a minimum. Meredead is the same like the rest of the album. It does not feature major changes, not even minor changes, but continues the legacy of Leaves Eyes much more powerful than ever before and probably much more expressive. They have yet to release a record that could be considered their worst. Now don’t get me wrong, it’s not like their records are equally good, some are better than others but none of them could be considered as their worst. In my opinion, Vinland Saga seems to be their most successful album, from an artistic point of view, while Njord is probably their most successful album coming from the audience, which sold the best and was the most appreciated.

For Meredead, the band entirely reconstructed the line-up, leaving only 3 original members (the two I mentioned and Thorsten Bauer, the long time partner of Alexander Krull, a member of Atrocity and also part of Liv Kristine’s solo project, he was also a former member of the Norwegian progressive black metal band Enslaved) adding 3 more members between 2010 and 2011. The result was outstanding, Meredead is not an album that could reach the level of Vinland Saga but it is not by far an inferior work.

Basically, it features the same style of singing and composing that the band used to offer, without much changes. Probably, the most important change is about the wider use of Norwegian songs rather than English songs, a thing that is worthy of my praise because, from my point of view, Liv’s voice goes best with Norwegian songs rather than English songs, just my opinion. We find similar songs such as Etain which has a lot in common with a song from the previous album entitled Emerald Island, featuring a quiet acoustic guitar and amazing vocal performance done by Liv Kristine. There are other memorable songs such as the introductory song, Spirits’ Masquerade which has an impressive drum performance and orchestral arrangement. The weakest track from this album is the the cover track of Mike Oldfield entitled To France, which clearly does not fit Liv Kristine’s voice. The instrumental is nicely done but I still prefer Blind Guardian‘s cover made for this song than Leaves Eyes one.

The album also features some amazing ballads such as Norway’s traditional ones Krakevisa (the best track from this album in my opinion, probably given by the usage of Norwegian lyrics and the duo between Liv Kristine and Anette Guldbransen) and also Nystev, a rather good track as well, but not as good as the previously mentioned. We also have Tell-Tale Eyes, an acoustic ballad performed in a majestic manner by Liv Kristine in collaboration with Elfenthal‘s John Kelly, probably the best duet performance on this album. There is not much to complain about this album, rather to commend because Krull is kept away from the mic, his work being minimized and can only be witnessed in select songs such as Sigrlinn, which is one of the poorest tracks of this record. Veritas which seems to serve as a prologue for Nystev does not even serve its purpose, it does not manage to connect with the upcoming song, a rather useless track, probably made to fill the gap between Empty Horizon and Nystev.

To conclude, this is not much of a disappointment. Meredead stands as an outstanding record done by Leaves Eyes, but there is still room for good changes and improvements. The band is rather new, even though the two singers started their career way before joining in this project. Outstanding tracks such as Spirits’ Masquerade, Etain, Krakevisa, Meredead or Tell-Tale Eyes will really attract the attention of the listeners. I want Leaves Eyes to release albums only in Norwegian since they are better in their native language rather than English. If you were a long term fan of Leaves Eyes, this album will definitely appeal to you, like the previous ones, because much changes did not take place. New fans will definitely find in this album a feast of joy and pleasure for their ears, album that serves as a perfect way to recruit new flesh in the audience. As for me, I can’t wait to see them live singing these pieces, and it assures me that I will not have any worries for the future regarding this band, they are good at what they are doing, so they should keep doing it.


Overall Impression: 82/100