Leaves’ Eyes

All posts tagged Leaves’ Eyes

By Carl Begai

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Over the last several years, Leaves’ Eyes vocalist Liv Kristine has made a tradition of playing a solo show in the small southern German town of Nagold, which has slowly but surely evolved into a short annual tour. This year was no exception, and in keeping with her goal of trying to make each go-round as memorable if not moreso than the previous year, Liv invited her former Theatre of Tragedy bandmate Raymond Rohonyi on board as a special guest. Not for a mere song or two, but for over half the show each night. Unexpected to say the least considering Liv was unceremoniously fired from Theatre of Tragedy in 2003, resulting in a low key flow of bad blood via the press in both directions for a number of years. On top of that, when Theatre of Tragedy called it quits in 2010 – with Nell Sigland in Liv’s place – Raymond dropped off the radar entirely, seemingly have said his final piece with the band’s departing live album, Curtain Call.

Watching the pair trading off vocal lines as they did well over a decade ago – not having shared a stage since 2002 – one would never know Liv and Raymond had ever been at odds. The same can be said of their interaction off stage, which is charged with positive vibes and Raymond’s dark sense of humour. As for the live performance as a whole, the backing band pulls off Liv’s solo material without batting a collective eye and looks perhaps a bit too happy performing evil doom goth Theatre of Tragedy material, also at an equally killer level. Liv’s trademark soprano Theatre vocals have lost none of their charm, and Raymond’s growls and mannerisms are as powerful as they were 20 years ago. Bottom line: if you’re a Theatre of Tragedy fan the tour was a dream come true.

Ray: “I’m not really interested in doing music as a career, but I’m happy to perform like this. Liv just asked me if I’d be interested. I don’t miss being a musician but I miss the narcissistic part of the music; being stuck up and a prick (laughs). And I don’t really work up a sweat, it’s more like a general stench (laughs). Getting out of town is also good for a while.”

Liv: “It was actually (husband) Alex’s idea, I have to say. He said to me ‘Just ask Ray to join you. That way you can play some more old shit…’ (laughs). We rehearsed in Stuttgart and it was like the magic had been there all the time, as if it had never left. We just grabbed the microphones and went for it.”

Ray: “We rehearsed the set two times and that was it. From there we went to Russia for the first show.” Continue Reading

By Carl Begai

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While preparing for the release of the new Leaves’ Eyes album, King Of Kings, vocalist Liv Kristine announced some dates for what has become a traditional year end European solo tour. She then revealed that her former Theatre Of Tragedy bandmate, vocalist Raymond Rohonyi, would be joining her as a special guest for the duration of the tour, performing several songs from the band’s catalogue with her. A very surprising development considering the bad blood stirred up when Liv was fired from Theatre Of Tragedy in 2003 – she was replaced by Nell Sigland – and Rohonyi’s disappearance from the music scene when the band called it quits in 2010. The last time the duo shared the stage was 2002. During our interview for King Of Kings, Liv discussed how she reconnected with Rohonyi.

“Ray is back in Norway and moved to Trondheim recently with his Brazilian wife,” Liv explains. “At some point I tried to get in touch with him by phone, then via Facebook, and many weeks later he got back to me and said that he was back in Norway. We caught up a bit, and I asked him about rumours I heard that Theatre Of Tragedy would be having a reunion some time soon. Rumours that came with the Northern winds, let’s put it that way (laughs). I just wanted to know if I was in or not. Ray said that nobody had asked him so far about a reunion and wondered why I was asking. I told him I had a solo tour coming up and that I’d been playing Theatre Of Tragedy songs at a number of gigs, that the audience really seemed to love it, and then I asked him if he’d be my special guest. He was very happy about the offer and he said yes.”

“When The Sirens supported Nightwish in Trondheim recently I finally met up with Raymond again. We talked about everything, about the beginnings of Theatre Of Tragedy. It was good to clear the table and our history, because we were the ones who formed the band and came up with the whole Shakespearean thing. It was really good talking to him, and we parted in Trondheim on great terms. Alex (Krull / vocalist, husband) is happy everything is clear now and there are no hard feelings whatsoever. I’m really looking forward to the tour, and I think Raymond might be looking forward to it even more (laughs). He’s so excited.” Continue Reading

By Carl Begai

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Although she rose to fame in the ’90s as the female vocalist for pioneering doom goth act Theatre Of Tragedy, Liv Kristine is best known these days as the singer for Leaves’ Eyes. During their ongoing 10+ year run she’s also nurtured a solo career – launched in 1998 but pursued in earnest as of 2006 – that lives apart from her band’s symphonic metal realm. Up to this point Liv’s solo records have embraced rock and pop influences with hints of metal, causing a certain amount of confusion and/or disappointment amongst some of her fans. Her fifth album, Vervain, is going to polarize her followers yet again, as it finds Liv returning to the music that made her famous. Unashamed and excited, she makes no secret of the fact that Vervain was written in the spirit of Theatre Of Tragedy’s glory days. A surprise for some given Liv was fired from ToT in 2003, but anyone who has been attended her live solo shows in recent years knows she still has love for the Theatre Of Tragedy classics. Call Vervain her tribute to a unique and influential past.

“It was about a year ago that I decided this would be the right time to sit down and start composing again for another solo album,” Liv begins. “Thorsten (Bauer/guitars) asked me what I had in mind and I told him that I really wanted to go back to the roots and let all my influences from the early days of Theatre Of Tragedy into the music. It feels like a loss for me that the band no longer exists and nobody is playing those songs live. That’s what I had in mind with this album and I talked to Thorsten about it, and he just started composing the music. He did the whole album in half a year. Alex (Krull) produced the album, so it was all done here at home (Mastersound Studios). It just felt right to do it this way.”

The Theatre Of Tragedy vibe on Vervain may not be readily apparent, but as the album plays out there are passages that echo the darkness and melancholy of the band’s first three albums. The title track, for example, speaks loudly as a tip of the hat to Theater’s biggest hit “Der Tanz der Schatten” from Velvet Darkness They Fear. Continue Reading

By Carl Begai

In this day and age female fronted metal bands are normal part of everyday life. They are so common, in fact, that it’s a waste of breath making the distinction between them and bands with a hairy, ugly guy behind the microphone. There was a time, however, when the idea of a woman fronting a full-on metal band was dismissed by metal fans and press alike as absurd. The world accepted Doro Pesch fronting Warlock and Sabina Classen leading Holy Moses in the ’80s, sure, but it wasn’t until the rise of The 3rd And The Mortal, The Gathering and Theatre Of Tragedy in the early ’90s that the movement towards equality in metal truly began. Now, in celebration of a revolution that launched an entirely new musical genre, vocalists Kari Rueslåtten (The 3rd And The Mortal), Anneke van Giersbergen (The Gathering) and Liv Kristine Espenaes Krull (Leaves’ Eyes, Theatre Of Tragedy) have united for a journey into the past presented live on stage: The Sirens.

The Sirens

The seeds for The Sirens were planted when Anneke approached Kari in early 2013 with the proposal of doing a duet for her Drive album (released in 2013). Regarded by Anneke as an inspiration going in to do The Gathering’s breakthrough album, Mandylion, her intention was to pay tribute to Kari via the collaboration. The song didn’t make the final cut as it didn’t fit the album, but they remained in touch. Then, in July 2013 Anneke and Liv had a chance meeting at the Masters Of Rock festival in the Czech Republic, and The Sirens concept was born.

“We had a few minutes only to talk in between our gigs,” Liv recalls, “but we agreed that we really should get together and tour. We both had to smile then, thinking that we were, with Kari, the ‘originals’ within our scene. Moreover, all three of us being mothers and still highly busy in music and art. Anneke told me that she had just talked to Kari, and that was the ‘go’ for The Sirens”

It would be fair to call Kari the catalyst for The Sirens, as both Anneke and Liv saw her as a role model when they first made their way into music.

“I find it hard to believe that I once inspired them,” Kari admits, “but if so it is truly flattering. It is a fantastic feeling to know that I will be singing live with two such amazing vocalists!”

The Sirens tour will be split into two parts, including festival appearances, and staged at the end of 2014 in October and December. It will be a full concert showcasing the trio, one band, and a setlist featuring songs from The 3rd And The Mortal, The Gathering and Theatre Of Tragedy as well as tracks from Kari, Anneke and Liv’s respective solo careers. They will sing alone, perform duets, capping off the night with all three of them on stage, with a show that is expected to clock in at around 100 minutes each night. Thus, it’s a trip down memory lane produced for the here and now with brand new and unexpected elements, making The Sirens a nostalgia-fuelled reminder of who started it all and why it worked. And at the end of the night nobody will leave disappointed. Continue Reading

By Carl Begai

Ten years ago, soprano vocalist Liv Kristine Espenaes Krull quite unexpectedly found herself out of a job. Theatre Of Tragedy, the band that made her famous (and vice versa) gave her the boot citing musical differences, cutting Liv loose and leaving her to her own devices. It was a blessing in disguise once the initial shock wore off, leading to the launch of a grand experiment in collaboration with the members of Atrocity dubbed Leaves’ Eyes. The goth-flavoured debut album, Lovelorn, was viewed as Liv’s comeback following two albums’ worth of head-scratching electronica with Theatre Of Tragedy. It set the stage for an ongoing project that would ultimately surpass her accomplishments with the Theatre, as Leaves’ Eyes evolved into something well beyond Liv’s doom goth roots. Their new album, Symphonies Of The Night, is the bold next step in what has been a constant evolution.

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“We’ve been around for 10 years, so when Thorsten (Bauer/guitars) started composing the music for this album a year-and-a-half ago we decided to keep an open mind about everything,” Liv begins. “We had enough time to let the songs develop and see where they went. We didn’t want to plan anything, we wanted to be taken places by the things that influenced the music. There were some musical ideas around that we didn’t use for the last album (Meredead), like ‘Saint Cecilia’, because there was no space for it. Thorsten spent hours and hours working in the studio, so it was always interesting to go in on Monday morning and check out what he’d done (laughs). I continued from there, Alex (Krull/Atrocity) supervised everything and added some spice to it. It was a very creative period for us because we just let everything in. It’s great working with Alex and Tosso. The three of us are the perfect team. We compliment each other in such a great way, I couldn’t imagine a better working relationship. It’s amazing.”

And even though they have a decade under their collective belt, Leaves’ Eyes show no signs of getting bored with their own art. If there’s any sort of re-invention going on with regards to their musical direction it’s not on a level where the fans are left wondering what the hell happened on the way to the studio since the last album.

“We don’t have to re-invent ourselves just because we’ve been around for 10 years. We have so much experience that we can rely on, and we’re three different musicians that also happen to be perfectionists. If I said we needed to have dulcimer on a song, we’d go out and try to find somebody that plays dulcimer. That’s how we work.” Continue Reading

By Carl Begai

Purely by coincidence, this interview took place on October 2nd, 2012; two years to the day Liv Kristine’s former band Theatre Of Tragedy – she was fired in 2003 – played the final show of their career. It only dawned on me an hour or two before we met up on the Leaves’ Eyes / Firewind tour to discuss her new solo album, Libertine, and the irony wasn’t lost on her either, particularly since she’s found extra room in her heart for the Theatre over the last year-and-a-half. The focus was on Libertine, but it was interesting to learn that her Theatre Of Tragedy roots played a part in its creation.

For anyone that’s been following Liv’s career, it’s no secret or surprise that her solo albums are very different from what she does with Leaves’ Eyes. Libertine is no exception to this so-called rule.

“Most people know that this is my fourth solo album, and all four albums have been in the indie pop-rock vein somehow,” Liv begins. “The fans seem to accept that my solo albums are very different from each other and from Leaves’ Eyes. For me it’s been clear all the time that my solo stuff isn’t really for the diehard metal fans. It could be, but probably not. When Napalm Records released Libertine on the Napalm label and not on Black Rose, which is the sub-label that they promised they would release it on as well as the video for ‘Paris Paris’, the metal fans were the first ones to hear it. They said ‘We don’t need this.’ Of course they don’t; I understand that. So, there was an issue with the record company but that’s now been solved.”

In the end, however, the record company’s gaffe may have paid off. Any fallout from the metal community for getting slapped with a pop-oriented album released from the same realms as Alestorm, Grave Digger, Ahab and Battlelore has been minimal at best. Judging by widespread reactions, Libertine has become a guilty pleasure for the leather-and-loud set. Continue Reading

By Carl Begai

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Talking to musicians / artists about the creative process is what this journalist tour-of-duty is all about. Actually being part of the creative process offers a new and valuable perspective of the time and energy spent on bringing the music from vision to the studio. Since 2004 I’ve played a small role in helping to shape the lyrics for the German / Norwegian folk metal band, Midnattsol, an ongoing collaboration that forces me to dig deeper each time vocalist Carmen Elise Espenæs asks for my feedback.

For the record, I couldn’t write a song to save my or anybody else’s life. When I was first approached by ex-Midnattsol guitarist / co-founder Christian Hector about proof-reading lyrics for their debut, Where Twilight Dwells, I took on the task not really expecting to do anything more than offer suggestions on using correct tenses and how to improve grammatical structure. In actual fact it became an interesting exchange of ideas with Carmen who, at that point, was very much in a learning-by-doing phase as a singer / songwriter.

Three albums in and Carmen has found her stride. In truth she doesn’t need my help anymore, but I was happy to offer it when she was finalizing the lyrics for the new album, The Metamorphosis Melody. I was pleasantly surprised – and more than a bit impressed – to find myself challenged by Carmen’s ideas rather than being met with grammatical errors, resulting in a full week of chaos and comedy as we bashed her lyrics into shape.

Following is our behind-the-scenes look at Carmen’s work on The Metamorphosis Melody, with me playing her soundboard and the voice of sporadic reason.

(And if any of this seems self-serving or narcissistic, it is. If you can’t be proud of your own accomplishments there’s no reason why anyone else should treat them seriously :-)…) Continue Reading

By Carl Begai

Leaves’ Eyes vocalist Liv Kristine Espenæs Krull and I recently sat down to discuss her new solo album, Skintight. Towards the end of the interview (found here) I asked her for her thoughts on her former band Theatre Of Tragedy’s decision to call it quits after 17 years. Liv was an integral part of the band, and it’s fair to say they were one of the building blocks in my metal education. It’s sad to see them go, and I’m not the only one that thinks so.

“I received an invitation from the guys in Theatre Of Tragedy asking me if I wanted to make a guest appearance in Stavanger at their final gig on October 2nd,” Liv reveals. “I’ll be in the States on tour so there’s no way I can do it, which is a pity. My mother is going, though, and I’m still in touch with Raymond (Rohonyi / vocals) and Lorentz (Aspen / keyboards). We’ve talked about what happened between us and, well, it is what it is. You can’t change the past.”

“Without Theatre Of Tragedy I wouldn’t be where I am today. I learned a lot during those years. I founded the band with Raymond when I was 18 and we went on tour when I was 19. It was crazy, and what we learned and experienced in those years was fantastic. Continue Reading

I’m not a huge goth metal fan, even less of a goth rock supporter. On the metal end of things the vast majority of goth-ick bands seem more concerned with having a hot piece of ass on stage front and center than the music, paired up with a male counterpart who wishes he was Peter Steele (Note to Doodness: There can be only one). The black #1 rockers, meanwhile, get their yeah-yeahs off playing the same three Sisters Of Mercy chords over and over from album to album, pretending they’re rejects from an Anne Rice vampire epic. It worked for The 69 Eyes and HIM, of course it’ll work for them…

How bloody boring.

That isn’t to say that all bands out of the goth realm suck – and Jeez help me, there are some knockout women to be drooled over – but very few have bent my ear for more than a spin over the last several years. Image, it seems, takes precedence over substance. Very sad indeed, especially in light of the fact that the band who gave goth metal life beyond the underground have decided to call it quits. Continue Reading