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Leaves' Eyes - Njord
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Written by Max Levites   
Tuesday, 03 November 2009
Leaves' Eyes - CD Review
Njord
Leaves' Eyes - Njord

CD Info

2009

 Napalm Records

12 Tracks

Mostly English Lyrics

 

 

 

The wait for Njord has been long, but we have finally been presented with some of the best songs Leaves’ Eyes have ever written. After the short sneak peak that was the My Destiny EP we were left hungering for more, and with high expectations as well! Well, those expectations have been met, at least for me.

The CD starts off with the title track "Njord", a medium paced song that is epic all the way through. Epicness is one thing Leaves’ Eyes is known for and we get a lot of this on this album for sure! Here we also hear the Beauty and the Beast style that Liv Kristine helped to pioneer with Theatre of Tragedy back in the day. There certainly are more growls on this album than on previous ones and Liv takes a much more operatic approach with her vocals this time around. My one minor qualm with this song is that, at the end, there’s a short vocal line suspiciously reminiscent of the Titanic theme that I’m sure we’re all very tired of hearing. I don’t know if it’s there on purpose or not, but it bothers me. But then again, that’s just me.

Next we hear "My Destiny" (mentioned in the review of the aforementioned EP), the first single off the album which came with an accompanying music video, followed by the track "Emerald Island". This is a good track overall but, relative to the other songs on the album, doesn’t really do much for me. It’s a bit repetitive toward the end and features growls from Alex that are completely out of place. We do hear Liv go into full operatic mode here, though, which is rather interesting, and later the contrast between the operatic vocals and the more angelic vocals we’ve come to know from the frontwoman on past works. There’s no denying she’s a great vocalist.

"Take the Devil in Me" is also one of the songs that fades into the background. Again, it’s a good song featuring some really cool vocal lines, but it is definitely overshadowed by the some of the other tracks. Case and point: "Scarborough Fair". On the My Destiny EP we heard an acoustic version of this song, but the more "metal" version definitely adds some character to this classic ballad. The use of uillean pipes is a nice touch, contrasting with the guitars and heaviness of the song. We even hear some growls from Alex! A very successful cover and one of the album’s highlights.

"Through Our Veins" is a song that’s more reminiscent of older Leaves’ Eyes songs, a nice change from the newer, more bombastic sound of the previous tracks. "Irish Rain" is a rather beautiful ballad, this coming from someone who generally despises slower songs. Leaves’ Eyes has always written good ballads, but Vinland Saga definitely had too many on it. Njord features two or three, which is a good number for an album.

"Irish Rain" leads into "Northbound", which was also on the My Destiny EP. I’ll just say that if Vikings wrote amazing pop songs, this would be it. Not to say this is necessarily a pop song, but it’s definitely catchy and would make a great single.

Now comes the true epic of the album, "Ragnarok". This is definitely my favorite song from Njord if not from the entire Leaves’ Eyes discography. During the intro, you almost expect this song to kill itself with a cheesy vocal line, but quite the contrary! Liv comes in singing strong and operatically. This song could definitely be in the soundtrack for any epic disaster movie (if it dealt with Viking gods destroying the world, of course!). In contrast, the next song, "Morgenland" is a very peaceful song, like the calm and quiet after a storm. Think "Ankomst" from Vinland Saga. Then comes "The Holy Bond", a more uptempo song with a little more bombast.

The real highlight at the end of the album is "Froya’s Theme". Lasting eight and a half minutes, it’s the longest song that Leaves’ Eyes has ever done, and it definitely works. There’s never a point in this song where it gets boring. In fact, it sort of reminds me of some of Nightwish’s longer compositions. Not that it sounds the same or anything, just that the song is divided into smaller parts that each have their own character, but are still tied into one another beautifully. It has a very Viking feel to it. This song is second only to "Ragnarok" in my opinion, but some might find it on the same par or even better!

Some versions of this album include two bonus tracks, "Landscape of the Dead" and "Les Champs de Lavande". Both are very nice tracks and are worth spending a few extra dollars to get the version with them included, although if you’ve already gotten the album you can easily live without them. Njord is a huge jump for the band, improving on their previous albums and adding some extra flair. The sound is more bombastic and more epic and the songwriting is better overall. Despite a few songs that fade into the background, this album is enjoyable from start to finish; Definitely worth the long wait!. Highlights include "Njord", "Scarborough Fair", "Northbound", "Ragnarok", and "Froya’s Theme".

9.5 / 10

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