Review: Leaves’ Eyes – Fires in the North EP
Written by Brett Kihlmire
2016 has been a rough year for Leaves’ Eyes. The loss of Liv Kristine was heartbreaking for many fans and the strikingly quick emergence of photos of the band with new singer, Elina Siirala, had them outright pissed off. Well, that’s the past and the fires seem to have died down and finally it’s time to see what this new singer is really made of.
While we got a new version of ‘Edge of Steel’ featuring Siirala a few months back to show her skill with the songs I was left a little underwhelmed. There was a unique majesty to Liv Kristine’s voice that Siirala simply couldn’t replicate. Still, I kept the faith and when I heard about this new extended play I was excited to hear something fresh.
The tribal opening to the title track, which is the only original tune on the extended play is a nice way to open up things up. Sadly, the riffs aren’t much to chew on, but the atmosphere is there. The group chanting and Alexander Krull’s death vocals blend fairly well with Siirala’s more operatic vocals, but I have to say the only real standout element is Siirala’s range in the chorus. All in all, it’s a pretty decent song with little to discuss other than the new vocal style since it came off kind of flat and uninspired.
Track two is a more tribal version of the title track. I have to say that enjoy this one much more. The group vocals and guitar really add some much needed spice that I felt was lacking in the metal version. In fact, the atmosphere is much more prominent. If I had to choose between the two to appear on the next album it’d be this one for sure.
After a mediocre title track and a solid acoustic version I was hoping for more out of this EP. Unfortunately, the final three songs are simply re-recordings of songs from the Kings of Kings album with Siirala’s singing in place of Liv Kristine. Honestly, the inclusion of these songs is a slap in the face of not only Liv Kristine, but the fans as well. Re-recording ‘Sacred Vow’ as a video a few months back to show off Siirala was understandable, but to make three of five songs on this EP re-recordings is just lazy. As for the change in vocals, I can’t get behind it. King of Kings was a masterpiece and should have been left as is. Siirala is an excellent singer, but like any cover, this just isn’t as a good as the original.
I have to say that this release was a real eye opener. While the two versions of ‘Fires in the North’ were pretty decent, the re-recordings of ‘Sacred Vow’ and ‘Edge of Steel’ were butchered. Of course, this is not because Siirala is a bad singer. In fact, she is a fantastic singer, especially on the re-recording of ‘Swords in Rock’ but the drastic change in vocals for songs we’ve become long accustomed to was unwelcome, for the more operatic style of Siirala gives the songs a strong Tarja feel that was never intended for them. Now don’t get me wrong, I love Tarja and I realize Leaves Eyes has always utilized operatic vocals, but never to this extent. In fact, this vocal style just doesn’t work for Leaves’ Eyes as its main vocal style. As well, Liv Krstine brought a much more elegant vocal style to the band, which is clearly lost here with Siirala. That being said, if this is what Leaves’ Eyes is going to sound like forevermore, then this band might as well call it a day; they’ve lost their soul. 4/10