SIGN OF THE DRAGONHEAD
Leaves‘ Eyes are the one of the most popular bands among the symphonic metal genre, and they have set a very impressive discography in these last thirteen years. Every album puts to music a chapter of Nordic mythology or one of the Nordic sagas. ‘Lovelorn’ (2004) delved into the mystical world of a mermaid. The legendary ‘Vinland Saga’ brought the Vikings to life in 2005 and entered the album charts, kicking off the wave of success which saw the bombastic ‘Njord’ (2009) continue the adventurous journey of these medieval mariners. ‘Meredead’ with its Celtic folk sounds went on to take the ghosts of the marine world by surprise. The metal opera “Symphonies Of The Night” (2013) was a monument to the heroic women of past centuries. The musicians’ fascination with myths and the powerful nature of the Nordic countries is tangible in all their compositions. In 2015 Leaves‘ Eyes delivered an impressive monumental opus about the first king of Norway in their epic ‘King Of Kings’, a sophisticated concept album which garnered chart positions in numerous countries. Their live shows are spectacular events featuring breathtaking stage sets like a Viking ship or the unforgettable ‘Swords in the Stone’ monument.
1. Sign Of The Dragonhead
2. Across The Sea
3. Like A Mountain
6. Riders Of The Wind
7. Fairer Than The Sun
8. Shadows In The Night
9. Rulers Of The Wind And Waves
10. Fires In The North
11. Waves Of Euphoria
April 2016 saw Finnish vocalist Elina Siirala (Angel Nation) succeed Liv Kristine at the longship’s helm. Her impressive live premiere in front of more than 20,000 metal heads at the Hammersonic in Jakarta / Indonesia, subsequent festival appearances and tours through Europe, the US and Canada established Elina as a charismatic frontwoman with a powerful voice, immediately sparking euphoria among Leaves’ Eyes’ fans. Following the ‘Fires In The North’ EP, which sold out immediately, ‘Sign Of The Dragonhead’ will be the first full album featuring the new line-up.
The album starts right away with the title track; ‘’Sign Of The Dragonhead’’, which actually has all the Leaves’ Eyes elements with an added epic guitar solo. It didn’t take long to get used to Elina’s voice, which next to Angel Nations music, also fits perfectly to Leaves’ Eyes’. I guess it will always be a mystery why she replaced Liv, but I am happy the band chose someone who has knowledge of this kind of music and has the right voice for it. ‘’Across The Sea’’ evolves into a metal shanty with an irresistible rhythm, it’s a very nice,melodic song. Alexander’s vocals aren’t as much present as in the earlier work yet, but so far it has the right balance of the two.
‘’Like A Mountain’’ is about a tragic Icelandic love saga. This track allows Elina to reveal the full range of her vocal skills. Confident and autonomous, her classically trained voice takes possession of the songs – gentle at times, powerful at others, just the right amount of both. These musicians’ deep affinity with the Viking era is revealed on ‘’Jomsborg’’, this track is about the legendary fortress and its Baltic Viking army, where in fact Alex’s ancestors hail from. The track is insanely epic and melodic, up till now I’m very impressed with this new record.
I love how the band added nyckelharpas, fiddles, uilleann pipes and whistles to the mix, creating catchy songs such as ‘’Fairer Than The Sun’’,‘’Shadows In The Night’’ and ‘’Völva’’. They are this element which seems to make every kind of music better, but it fits perfectly with the Celtic influences. Just like ‘’Riders Of The Wind’’, which is overflowing with melody, history and culture. I am in love with the Medieval influences!
‘’Rulers Of The Wind And Waves’’ is an instrumental piece which sound kind of cinematic. It creates a nice atmosphere for the songs to follow. The next track is ‘’Fires In The North’’ which of course we already know from the latest EP. The song is very different from the rest of the album (less melodic and less happy sounding), but I am happy they have added it. ‘’Waves of Euphoria’’ is the closing track and also the longest with 8:03 minutes of playing time. Again, I love the mix of Alex’s and Elina’s voices. The track is just epic, an amazing way to close the album!
In conclusion, Leaves’ Eyes have created another masterpiece. I’ve always loved their Viking theme, but since the last two years it seems like they are more focussing on it, creating their brand as a symphonic metal band. And since there are so many bands in that genre already, it sets them apart, I mean look at those shows including the viking crew! Also, considering all the hate the band was showered in when they announced Liv’s departure, they have managed to put it all behind them and have created another great album. To me that shows great perseverance and I am really proud of them. I’d rate Sign Of The Dragonhead by Leaves’ Eyes a 9 out of 10!
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Elina Siirala - Vocals
Alexander Krull - Vocals
Joris Nijenhuis - Drums
Thorsten Bauer - Guitar and Bass
Pete Streit - Guitar