Soundchecks Music Reviews
review by Octavio Ramos Jr
It has been four long years since Germany's Leaves Eyes, fronted by Norway's pristine goddess Liv Kristine, released Vinland Saga. The wait has been worth it, however, as Njord is a new powerful album, one that will please the band's core fan-base while attracting multitudes of new listeners with its more intense and aggressive sound.
The principal improvement on Njord consists of the guitars. Thorsten Bauer and Mathias Roderer at last take centre-stage, unleashing a barrage of riffs driven by power metal and the new wave of British heavy metal. The rhythms exemplified on tracks such as My Destiny, Through Our Veins, and the title track, are harmonious but assertive - the resultant sound appeals to the ears without sacrificing the heart. Those more accustomed to the symphonic sounds of past albums need not worry, as compositions such as Emerald Island, Northbound, and the rousing epic Ragnarok hearken to the past yet also underscore the band's new approach. Leaves' Eyes even contribute a cover of Simon and Garfunkel's Scarborough Fair and the original song Irish Rain, both of which tap into folk elements that hearken to the days of the Renaissance.
Drummer Seven Antonopoulos and new bassist Alla Fedynitch also contribute to the band's heavier drive, with Antonopoulos pushing the kit harder while Fedynitch pounds out some overt low notes. Alexander Krull is a master on keyboards, his washes thick and lush while his stings never interfere with the guitar riffs. However, Krull is a terrible singer who would do better to growl rather than scream out his vocals.
Lyrically, Leaves' Eyes continue to explore Viking myths and legends. Topics include Freyja (goddess of love, beauty, and fertility) on Frøya's Theme, and the final battle of the gods on Ragnarok. There's also plenty of romance this time out, with tracks such as The Holy Bond and Northbound.
Fans familiar with this band may wish to secure the limited-edition digi-pack of this album, which contains two bonus tracks. Also available is My Destiny, a six-track EP with re-mixes and bonus songs not found on Njord.
for PIGASUS Press