Leaves' Eyes - _Vinland Saga_
(Napalm Records, 2005)
by: Jackie Smit (
Liv Kristine Espenaes is an enormously talented lady. From as far back as the early Nineties, when she was arguably the key ingredient in elevating an otherwise mediocre doom metal band in Theatre of Tragedy to infinitely listenable heights, she has (at least in my opinion) exuded a presence which has always placed her a cut above most of metal's other female singers. But to successfully pull off a concept album is no easy feat, and considering that Liv's previous solo work didn't exactly set the world ablaze, _Vinland Saga_ -- a record chronicling Leif Erikson's voyage to Greenland at the turn of the 11th century -- is an almost curiously ambitious project. It's a task that she and her bandmates (along with ample and clearly discernible assistance from her husband, Atrocity's Alexander Krull) certainly take a fair crack at. To their credit, while the record can't help but be cheesy at the best of times, there are instances when it's actually quite good. Yet it's moments like "The Thorn" -- where Espenaes and Krull trade vocals against an almost Amorphis-like backdrop of folk-heavy riffing -- that highlight the rest of the album's considerable shortcomings, and underline the fact even while Liv does indeed possess an extraordinary aptitude for delivering vocal lines of an almost otherworldly beauty, hers is a talent that simply seems incapable of shining on its own.
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