Review Summary: A good goth metal album that is ultimately let down by some filler.
Shortly after leaving the acclaimed gothic doom/death metal band Theatre of Tragedy in 2003, legendary female metal vocalist Liv Kristine formed Leaves’ Eyes with the entire line-up from the german death metal band Atrocity to continue making heavily goth inspired music. Only a year later, Leaves’ Eyes’ debut record, Lovelorn
was released to decent reception despite the album flying under the mainstream radar entirely. Due to this, the album is generally considered to be one of the better releases in the Leaves’ Eyes catalogue.
As the album begins, soft acoustic guitar is played along with melancholic keyboards until the highly distorted electric guitars kick in along with the drums. This build up eventually leads into a verse with Kristine’s iconic singing as all the other instruments besides the drums and synths stop playing. The verse is very melodic and leads into an equally melodic and absurdly catchy chorus before leading into yet another verse. The song repeats this formula a few times and eventually stops.
From this opening track, “Norwegian Love Song”, onward, it becomes clear to the listener that Lovelorn
and, by extension, Leaves’ Eyes as a whole, is not going to be a continuation of Theater of Tragedy or contain much of Atrocity’s death metal influence either. Lovelorn
is very light for a metal album. The writing throughout the album mostly focuses on building catchy and melodic choruses with Kristine’s vocal abilities rather than impress the listener with complexity or aggression. Because of this, her voice is placed at the center of the album as the guitars and the drums play in the background. This simplistic songwriting style is both Lovelorn
’s main strength and weakness. This is due to the fact that when the choruses hit in songs like “The Dream” and “Tale of the Sea Maid”, the album is quite enjoyable and atmospheric because the verses and synths on the album build up to the excellent choruses. Problems arise, however, when these choruses fail to land because the backing music in the verses of the album is not enough to support the songs on its own. This problem mostly affects the second half of the album on songs such as “Secret” and “For Amelie” that are simply tedious to listen to because of the lack of any good hooks. Despite this issue, the rest of the album is able to successfully write in this style and ends up sounding similar to bands such as Lacuna Coil.
As previously mentioned, Lovelorn
puts most of its focus on Liv Kristine’s vocal talents rather than each individual instrument. While this can be seen as a downside to the album, her voice sounds amazing throughout Lovelorn
’s entire 41 minute runtime. Her vocals are very calm sounding and fit with the beauty of the synths that back them up. Generally speaking, her voice sticks in this calm range, but occasionally, on songs such as “Ocean’s Way” they become more operatic similar to bands such as Nightwish. As far as other band members go, both Mathias Roderer and Thorsten Bauer handle the guitar work on the entire album. The guitar playing on Lovelorn
mostly consists of power chords that emit a lot of feedback and mostly give the album’s sound some depth. Aside from this, there is some acoustic guitar work that is pretty atmospheric and also some occasional soloing that is solid, albeit, underdeveloped. The only song where this changes is “Temptation” that has a guitar riff that is somewhat complex and death metal influenced. Overall the guitar work is tight, but for such a simplistic album, it is not a standout. The drumming on the album is handled by Martin Schmidt who performs quite well throughout its duration. Schmidt plays a ton of double bass on the album which is cool to hear on lighter music such as this. When he isn’t kicking away at the foot pedals, he is playing slower, more beat oriented drumming that keeps the time of the song and throws in some fills here and there. The bass on the album is handled by Christian Lukhaup, and it is almost completely inaudible making it pointless to even try to analyze. Lastly, the album actually does contain some harsh death growls courtesy of Alexander Krull who appears on a few of the songs. His vocals build a nice contrast between Kristine’s and are a nice addition when they are present.
In the end, Lovelorn
is a solid debut album from a band that went on to make a few other solid albums that many people enjoy. The album is not a masterpiece, as evidenced by a few bad cuts, and it fails to live up to the back catalogues of the artists that played on it, but if the listener is able to put such things behind them while listening, Lovelorn
is a good album. The only problem is, for the average metalhead, the album could be a tough sell. If you're looking for something heavy and aggressive stay far away from Lovelorn
, but if you like goth rock/metal bands like Lacuna Coil and Krypteria, there might be something here for you.