Leaves’ Eyes – The Last Viking

Leaves’ Eyes
The Last Viking
AFM Records
October 23, 2020
01:03:55

What began in 2005 with “Vinland Saga” and was continued ten years later with “King Of Kings” now comes to an end with “The Last Viking”. The press release speaks of a bombastic finale to the Viking sagas. And the masterminds of the German symphonic metal band Leaves ’Eyes spared no expense or effort and consulted history books and old legends in order to work with proven historical facts this time as well. It tells the story of the last Norwegian King Harald III, called Hardråde (“The Hard One”), who suffered a crushing defeat with his army in the final battle of Stamford Bridge (11 km east of York). And died on the battlefield. September 25, 1066 is a fateful day for the Vikings as it marked the end of the Viking Age (793-1066).

With 2:33 “Death Of A King” is a very long intro. This is where the suspense for the ensuing event should be built up. Lots of symphonic, high vocalizes by the nightingale Elina Siirala, choruses and spoken words. How this relates to the song title, however, does not reveal itself to me. The first regular song “Chain Of The Golden Horn” is a completely different caliber. The band succeeds here in combining Nordic folk, epic and symphonic music. Elina’s singing is of course outstanding, countered by the growls that Alexander Krull contributes. Compared to previous albums, guitarists hold back a little with their riffs here. “Dark Love Empress” starts with sugar-sweet piano sounds. Before epic choruses and heavy riffs set in here as well. But already with the singing the tempo is reduced a bit. A rather mid-tempo anthem. A tip is definitely “Black Butterfly”. Here you can hear two great singers in a duet, Elina Sirala and Clémentine Delauney (Visions Of Atlantis). The fan probably already knows this from the EP of the same name last year, but without Clemi.

Viking battle chants followed by choruses and repeatedly built-in riffs dominate “War Of Kings”. And here the guitarists show their skills again. “For Victory” is very varied. Folklore, anthem, symphonic metal, twin guitars. All of this in just under four minutes. And yet the song doesn’t seem overloaded. A short interlude like “Two Kings One Realm” would be dispensable on pretty much any other album. But here it offers the appropriate transition to “Flames In The Sky”. And that’s a real smasher. Punching riffs, mid-pitched vocals, propulsive rhythmic drums. After the lively “Serkland” comes the next highlight with the WIkinger hymn “Varangians”. This is where Leaves ’Eyes build on earlier great deeds. To sway along and dance along. Probably the best song on the entire album. Almost at the end you can enjoy the ten-minute epic “The Last Viking”, introduced by deep horn tones. Later on, guitars with a lower pitch set in. In the second part, musically and vocally, you can hear a certain hectic rush, sometimes even desperation. Here all the tragedy and sorrow of the Northmen are expressed. And this sadness continues in the solemn, almost doomy-sounding song “Break Into The Sky Of Aeon”. A grand finale.

On “Sign Of The Dragonhead” Leaves Eyes drifted a bit into pure symphonic metal. But with “The Last Viking” the two masterminds Alex Krull and Thorsten Bauer manage to return to their roots in an impressive way, melodic metal with many folk influences from Northern European culture. With this album they are back on par with “King Of Kings”. That’s how I got to know and love the band many years ago. Keep it up!

Leaves’ Eyes – Dark Love Empress: https://youtu.be/AMHRS-hUdv4

Lineup:

Elina Siirala – Vocals
Alexander Krull – Vocals
Thorsten Bauer – Guitar, Bass
Micki Richter – Guitar
Joris Nijenhuis – Drums

Track list:

  • Death Of A King
  • Chain Of The Golden Horn
  • Dark Love Empress
  • Serpents And Dragons
  • Black Butterfly
  • War Of Kings
  • For Victory
  • Two Kings One Realm
  • Flames In The Sky
  • Serkland
Rating
  • 9/10
    Album - 9/10
  • 9/10
    Cover Art - 9/10
  • 10/10
    Songwriting - 10/10
9.3/10
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