The only album I heard from LEAVES’ EYES before this one is their debut, “Lovelorn”. I remember liking it, but not much beyond that, honestly. Lead singer Liv Kristine has a strong and emotional voice, but other than that… I approached “Meredead” with the curiosity of a newcomer, but with the tentative knowledge of the few things I remember about the album. I also remember hearing Liv Kristine on CRADLE OF FILTH's "Nymphetamine"... and the less said about that the better.
Right from the first track, I was a bit taken aback. “Meredead” is definitely a lot more Folk-oriented than both what I expected and what I remembered from the few of what I listened of the band previously. The Folk influences are all over this album and it is a very good thing. I know what you’re going to say, Folk Metal is very, very common these days (it’s the new Power Metal) but as long as it’s well done and doesn’t feel like a gimmick, I don’t have a problem with it. The one question that matters here is: are the songs any good?
Answer is the album is good. It’s not incredible, it’s not WUTHERING HEIGHTS or anything but it’s very listenable. Lead singer Liv Kristine does have a pretty unique voice and makes very good use of it all over this CD. The other instrumentalists all do a fine job as well, with special mention to guitarists Thorsten Bauer and Sander van der Meer for some truly wicked riffs. Along with “To France”, a MIKE OLDFIELD cover, the album also features a few renditions of traditional songs dear to the Norwegian band, namely “Krĺkevisa” and “Nystev” - nothing much to say except that they fit seamlessly into the album.
Overall, LEAVES’ EYES have put out another good but not great album that will please their Power/Folk Metal niche. It is both a compliment and a criticism – as much as I didn’t like the lack of originality of this record, I do appreciate the fact that they’re not trying to please anyone else than themselves (and ostensibly their fans). You won’t find an obvious single a la NIGHTWISH or WITHIN TEMPTATION here, and it’s for the better.
Best tracks: "Meredead," "Spirits' Masquerade," "To France," "Sigrlinn," "Étain."
(Online June 12, 2012)