After switching over to a new vocalist in April 2016, following the seemingly acrimonious departure of Liv Kristine, Leaves’ Eyes presents their first album with Elina Siirala on vocals. The new record is titled Sign Of The Dragonhead (AFM), and once again dives Dragonhead first into Nordic mythology and culture.
‘Rulers of the Wind and Wave’ showcases the wonderful medieval instrumentation incorporated in this album, and would have made a stellar opening number, immediately providing the drama and setting the scene. The band upped the ante in their intros on this album, with ‘Across the Sea’ and ‘Riders on the Wind’ really bringing it in the opening bars. ‘Völva’ likewise opens with a magnificent folky riff, which also saves the song from an otherwise unimpressive chorus. I do hope the English-speaking listeners know that a völva is a seeress, otherwise, the cookie-monster style grunting of the word in the background sounds exceedingly odd!
Elina’s vocal performances are certainly not bad but are sometimes lacking in power, especially at the start of the album. From the titular first song it is obvious that Elina effortlessly reaches the high notes, but in the lower notes, the intensity isn’t always quite there. If she can add some more depth to her entire range it will not only let her voice connect more with the music, but will also add a wow-effect to the entire album. Her current style does work very well with the impressive choral arrangements, as well as the songs at a slower pace and with textured backing vocals, such as ‘Like A Mountain’. Her strongest vocal performances are delivered on ‘Fairer Than The Sun’, an accomplished ballad with a strong and emotional solo, and ‘Waves of Euphoria’, the Power Metal extravaganza that closes the album.
Overall this is an interesting album from Leaves’ Eyes; it shows how their new vocalist is getting along while staying true to the Nordic roots and the music that brought their fans to them. The album is not a masterpiece, but it entertains, delights, and certainly raises hopes for what the band will bring in the future.