Leaves' Eyes fourth album, Meredead, finds the band maturing and progressing in their version of symphonic/folk metal. Meredead shows lead vocalist Liv Kristine and band incorporating more folk and traditional influences including from her native Norwegian history, but also old English and Celtic. Much of this is accomplished by Mr. Kristine singing lyrics written in the former two languages. Additionally, Leaves' Eyes incorporates native instruments throughout the compositions including Uilleann pipes, bagpipes native to Ireland, and the Nyckelharpa, a keyed fiddle native to Sweden. The arrangements are lush and symphonic bolstered by a choir and the Lingua Mortis Orchestra.
Meredead is marked by a variety of arrangements. There are big pieces, epic and sweeping, like the opener Spirit's Masquerade and later, the masterful Sigrlinn. Both invoke the folk motif. The motif is made stronger when combined with Kristine's language choice such as Norwegian on Krakevisa and Nystev. Yet, as on the latter composition it swells with grandeur and often moves along briskly. There are more traditional choices here including Velvet Heart which travels along a more symphonic rock sequence. Leaves' Eyes also covers Mike Oldfield's classic track To France (Discovery, 1984) giving it new found vitality.
Leaves' Eyes' Meredead may be their signature album or, at the very least, the one by which they will be judged in the future. Many 'symphonic' metal bands attempt to merge folk or native elements into their music, often with questionable results. Leaves' Eyes has done well, raising the bar for their peers. Recommended.
Leaves' Eyes Meredead may be their signature album or, at the very least, the one by which they will be judged in the future. Leaves' Eyes has done well, raising the bar for their peers in the symphonic and folk metal genre.
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