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.
“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.”
Judging by the overall fan reaction, Symphonies Of The Night ranks as one of the strongest Leaves’ Eyes albums to date of the five on offer. Strictly from a long time fan’s point of view, the best moments on the record go so far as to give the last two Nightwish albums (Dark Passion Play, Imaginaerum) a serious stomping. ‘Fading Earth’, for example, dominates through its simplicity, ‘Galswintha’ offers up folk music with balls instead of genre-typical featherlight fluff, and ‘Hymn To The Lone Sands’ rages as the heaviest Leaves’ Eyes song ever recorded. Never thought we’d hear the word ‘annihilated’ cross Liv’s lips…
“(Laughs) I’m going to sleep well tonight; thanks for the compliment. And you actually mentioned the key to that, ‘Fading Earth’. That song came into existence quite early in the composing period, and it was actually Alex’ idea. It was very raw and it stayed raw until the end of the production, and that was the first song Alex picked for the new album. We thought it sounded great and that it was good as it was, so that was the initial step in the mix and a very important part in the composing.”
Call it a case of getting the ball rolling and letting it pull the band along instead of pushing it.
“Yeah, I guess there was a question of whether we felt comfortable with the direction, and the answer was yes. On the other hand you have songs like ‘Saint Cecilia’ and one that I wrote, ‘Nightshade’, where we added a lot of spices to both pieces of music.”
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