Album: Sign Of The Dragonhead
Label: AFM Records
Genre: Symphonic Metal
Release Date: January 12, 2018
Leaves’ Eyes released ‘Sign of the Dragonhead’ today. The album is the first full release with Elina Siirala on vocals since joining the band in 2016. I’ve had the opportunity to see Leaves’ Eyes live with Elina on vocals and have enjoyed her as an addition to the band. So I have been looking forward to this new release to see how the music would change from the old version of Leaves’ Eyes.
Let me first say, there are a lot of great tracks on this new release that embody the symphonic metal sound that fans have grown to love Leaves’ Eye for. The pleasant mix of folk metal also infuses a number of the tracks. For the most part, the album has a cohesive flow and feel, but on a few of the tracks I found they felt out of place and had odd arrangements that didn’t work for me.
I will just get what didn’t work out of the way first. The three tracks that I had a really hard time with were “Sign of the Dragonhead”, “Riders on the Wind” and “Fairer Than the Sun”. With “Sign of the Dragonhead” I felt that Elina’s vocals where a bit overpowering for the music and the octave she was in didn’t pair with the music of the song. You have two completely abstract pieces that alone would have been good in other arrangements, but just don’t work together. I gave the track multiple plays in hopes it would grow on me but it just didn’t.
For “Riders on the Wind”, if this song was on another album of this style it would have been ok, but to place this track in the middle of this album when it sounded more like a Flogging Molly or Dropkick Murphy‘s track than symphonic metal didn’t work for me. I found it to be too far of a departure from the flow of the album. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy Flogging Molly and Dropkick Murphy’s, just not on a symphonic metal album. I made it half way through the track before skipping to the next track, it was just too abstract from the rest of the album. The last track that I didn’t enjoy much was “Fairer Than the Sun”. On this track it was just due to the vocal arrangement as to why I didn’t enjoy it. The the instrumental of portion of the track I enjoyed and if the track would have been just an instrumental, I would have enjoyed it. For me, I just didn’t like the odd vocal style in this song and it makes me sad to have to say it, because I usually enjoy Elina’s vocals.
Now onto what really worked well on this album, the other 7 tracks! ‘Sign of the Dragonhead’ has a lot of great music to enjoy. On these other 7 tracks the vocals were spot on. Elina has such masterful control of her vocals and they are placed perfectly with the music. Then the mix of Alexander Krull‘s deeper and punchy vocals add additional depth to play against the music. The instrumental portion of the remaining songs was fantastic. Symphonic metal stylings mixed with folk music, sound effects of rain and atmospheric surroundings really brought these together. You get the feeling of the album and the story being played out over your speakers. At times you even get the feel of vikings as more of indigenous people with the chanting through tracks.
The album is big, it has in elements that bring listeners in and wanting to hear more of what Leaves’ Eyes is telling in their story. My favorite track on this album is easily “Fires In the North”. It embodies all the things I look for when listening to symphonic metal built around a viking story. It starts out with some chanting, that leads into intriguing, meaty riffs, then you hear Elina‘s powerful vocals all the while laced with deep chanting vocals from Alexander and symphonic keys throughout. As a result, this track is the one that screams Leaves’ Eyes the most to me on this album, this is what I would love to hear more of on future albums.
There’s something for all symphonic metal fans on this album to enjoy. Although I can’t say I enjoyed every track, I enjoyed the majority of the album. You may enjoy the songs I didn’t and dislike some of the ones I enjoyed too. My final recommendation is to buy this album. It’s enjoyable and I look forward to seeing this on tour and what Leaves’ Eyes does next.
01. SIGN OF THE DRAGONHEAD
02. ACROSS THE SEA
03. LIKE A MOUNTAIN
06. RIDERS ON THE WIND
07. FAIRER THAN THE SUN
08. SHADOWS IN THE NIGHT
09. RULERS OF WIND AND WAVES
10. FIRES IN THE NORTH
11. WAVES OF EUPHORIA
Elina Siirala – Vocals
Alexander Krull – Vocals
Thorsten Bauer -Guitars
Pete Streit – Guitars
Joris Nijenhuis – Drums
Produced by Alexander Krull at Mastersound Studio
The cover artwork was done by Stefan Heilemann
(Lindemann, Epica. Kamelot)
Check out our past live review of Leaves’ Eyes in Seattle here.