Grim Observations: Leaves’ Eyes – King Of Kings (2015)

Gothic folk/metal act Leave’s Eyes have been taking a bit of a detour from their folk-inspired tales of great warriors and mighty deeds, but King Of Kings is by and large a return to form in the truest sense. Throughout the whole of the record, the listener will be happily bombarded with all manner of traditional folk instrumentation, including a full serving of flute work which seems to put a little bit of Riverdance into the disc. Longtime fans will consider King Of Kings a return to form in more ways than one, as it seems to hearken back to their classic material and bring back an almost pagan sensation that I’m quite sure they’ve been waiting for. The band are still powerfully theatric, with orchestrations that thunder as loud as the guitars, and a vocal performance from Liv Kristine that is nothing less than legendary. Seriously folks, she’s knocked it right out of the park on this one, with the harsh growls still in tow; just as we’d expect. Do not allow all the pomp to fool you, as King Of Kings is very much a metal album and the Atrocity influence can still be felt deep within it’s very core. The album feels celebratory in it’s operatic nature, quite like Batttlelore’s “Knights Of Riddermark” or Blind Guardian’s “Battlefield.” There are dozens of sections throughout the piece where massive choirs are employed, all in the name of bombast, which really seem to bring these fantasy epics to life unlike never before. Listening to King Of Kings reminds me wholly of a great fantasy film, and it feels like the soundtrack to what has yet to hit the silver screen. Nightwish may have put out their new album this year, but I’d certainly have to say that we’ve got an almost impeccable rival in what might very well be one of the best Leave’s Eyes records I’ve ever heard. When we’re not getting punchy numbers like “Halvadan The Black” (4:22) or pumped up ballads like “Sacred Vow” (4:21), we’re getting immensely deep and possibly ritualistic nodes here in “Heraldskvaldi” (3:24) which is bound to make you want to dance around a roaring fire. There’s even the unexpectedly thunderous and mightily metallic “Blazing Waters” (7:30) which throws in enough death metal brilliance to shake your foundations of Gothic and folk metal until they topple over. It sounds like a blast, and it undeniably is. So what are you waiting for? Join the adventure!

(11 Tracks, 43:00)

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