Sleaveseyessymphonieso the symphonic metal delights of Leaves’ Eyes are once again upon us with this their fifth album combining practically everything that has been unleashed before and enhancing all the components to write and record an album that focuses centrally on the women and heroines that have appeared throughout history and folklore. Conceptually this album possesses a textural backdrop covering ballad like intricacies, symphonic grandiosity and upbeat rockers, the latter of which opens this album on “Hell To The Heavens” which has been released with a promotional video set in a forest. Opening with Liv’s gentle choral tones, the song swings into a deep resonating riff and symphonics with Alex adding the growls as normal. Dropping into the verse, the vocals are rich and opulent with a layering complexity that fits extremely well.

The song writing on the album have been amplified tenfold with each tune containing an assortment of flavours such as “Fading Earth” with its piano piece start before initiating the bands widely accepted commercial vibe, which may be similar to many acts that have jumped on the band wagon of female fronted metal acts but with Leaves’ Eyes you have one of the pioneers, hardworking and resolute determination to their vision of producing rich ambitious songs such as the rather folk inspired track of “Galswintha” with its choir vocal forays, mixing softer acoustic guitar work with heavier guitar incursions. The title track is excellent, a sweeping piece of music that focuses Liv’s unique voice, as she sublimely shifts her pitch seamlessly in the song, making it feel extremely epic. The classically inspired “Saint Cecilia” has string like arrangements composited with a dreamy folk style twist.

An acoustic guitar begins “Hymn To The Lone Sands” before switching to an infectious hook and Alex’s deeper vocals delivery where they alternate with Liv’s and also come together at various junctures. Repeated listens to this album had me thinking whether the band has progressed or remained safe after the success of “Meredead” and my decision was that parts of the album contain those songs that you would consider as safe such as the opener, title track and the tune mentioned above but added to this album is craftsmanship of the song writing moving onwards and upwards into new ground, some of which is a lot heavier than would expect as on the albums closer “Ophelia”. The ballad “Nightshade” is exceptional, possessing flawless character and a shivering solo vocal performance by Liv and accompanying symphonics and folk traits.

With regular tours in the UK, Leave’s Eyes has found favour here just like they have all over the world, and I can only see the band gathering more momentum and eventually breaking worldwide into a global phenomenon which they damn well deserve with all the hard work the band has put in over the years.

 (9/10Martin Harris)