Those that have followed this site and its predecessor with any regularity will know that my penchant for Liv Kristine’s unique voice were sown way back when she was in Theatre Of Tragedy. I have followed her solo career and with Leaves’ Eyes doggedly despite numerous jibes I have endured from various so called friends who take great pleasure in taking the you know what out of me. When Liv Kristine launched her solo career back in 1997 her vision was an entirely different one to that of Theatre Of Tragedy, an aspect of her ideas that crystallised when Leaves’ Eyes was put together in 2003. Ever present has been her husband Alex Krull who has more or less taken a back seat within her solo work and Leaves’ Eyes, though his compositional skills and influence are obvious.

Recently I have become rather dismayed at the number of bands employing the skills of some rather attractive women to front them, which isn’t to say they lack skill, but the balance between pure skill irrespective of gender is quite often overlooked in favour of how fit the woman looks on a glossy magazine or on label photo shoots. Just look at how the Huntress singer is being used to sell their album. Exploitation is not really an appropriate phrase but I’m sure you get what I mean. Why am I mentioning this, well like Anneke Van Giersbergen both her and Liv have carved out their own niche and haven’t relied on over presentation of themselves, though it is inevitable that labels will do so for marketing purposes I suppose.

This is Liv’s fourth solo album, as her solo career alternates with Leaves’ Eyes, the differences between “Libertine” and “Skintight” are subtle but definitely there. Admittedly I wasn’t too taken by “Skintight” with the title track offering the only real similarity to 2006’s “Enter My Religion”, an album I still think is very good. “Skintight” came across as very lightweight with lots of ballad like pop songs, that seemed to aim more at a commercial market than a rock one. I’m not saying that “Libertine” is a ballsy rock album, Liv’s solo work is not about that but the songs are definitely a tad heavier and more upbeat overall.

Starting with an acoustic piece titled “Interlude” the vocal lines feel softer, like the feathering effect on a photo before going into the hard rock sensibilities of “Solve Me”, a tune not too far off “Mandylion” era The Gathering if I’m honest on the guitar work. Liv’s solo work has always utilised her unique operatic tones, and here they are present but less prevailing. Most of this type of music is lumped in with gothic rock, which is fine for tagging but in reality the album sits somewhere within the fringes of gothic rock and hard rock. Guesting on “Vanilla Skin Delight” is Tobias Regner the German winner of their equivalent Pop Idol, which had me developing a frown or two, though he does a good job in a Nickelback way on this up tempo rocker that follows the dulcet soft vocalising on “Silence” a song that eventually shifts to a much heavier metal based tune.

“Paris Paris” is a much quicker tune, a foot tapper so to speak, with a quirky chorus reminding me of the upbeat rock by The Cult but with far better vocals, then followed by the radiant “Wait For Rain”, with its rather pleasant bass line. The title track showcases the heavier side to this album perfectly and is probably the closest song to her own Leaves’ Eyes or even a band like Delain. Her identifiable voice threads through all the albums she has sang on and here the emphasis shifts to her higher tones with that linger note focus she just does so well. The album closes with a splendid cover of Kate Bush’s “The Man With The Child In His Eyes”, her replication is not absolute, as Liv does put her own twist on the vocal style as expected and finishes a very good album that shows a more rocky side to her solo work.

(7.5/10 Martin Harris)