Throughout history, in every culture and every land, myths and folklore were originally told by song. Leaves’ Eyes carry on this tradition by delivering tales of Nordic mythology with their latest release, Sign of the Dragonhead. This marks their seventh album, and it’s the first full-length with vocalist Elina Siirala.
To digress momentarily, my first exposure to Leaves’ Eyes was the Fires in the North EP, through which I was thoroughly enchanted by Siirala’s beautiful vocal range. I chanced to see their live performance at a tiny venue in Providence, Rhode Island, where she and frontman Alexander Krull mystified the crowd. Dressed in full viking gear, it was nothing short of bewitching.
Throughout the illustrious tracks on Sign of the Dragonhead many different instruments are employed, such as nyckelharpas, fiddles, uileann pipes, and whistles, as well as contributions from the incredulous London Voices choir (Lord of the Rings) and Victor Smolski’s Almanac Symphony Orchestra from Minsk. The title track is a maelstrom of metal and melody from the start, a force to be felt and not just heard. “Like a Mountain” is a gorgeous tale of love with excellent guitar and bass riffs, superb drumming, and Siirala’s angelic voice. “Jomsborg,” an ancient story about the fortress at the southern coast of the Baltic Sea, is a perfect symphony of Krull’s growling and her gentle, powerful pipes. “Völva,” a story of a Nordic female shaman and seer, features virtuoso tribal drumming and medieval instrumentation.
“Riders on the Wind” is arena-worthy with its catchy nuances and a masterful intro. “Fairer Than the Sun” is befitting of a wedding celebration; enchanting with its lilting folk-metal injection. An instrumental piece, “Riders of Winds and Waves,” captures the picturesque image of the seafaring warriors of old in the musicians’ performing beauty.
The production and sound on Sign of the Dragonhead are exquisite and truly divine, and it is sure to become a Viking metal masterpiece. Be sure to experience Leaves’ Eyes in person. You will be enchanted.
Sign of the Dragonhead is out January 12 on AFM Records. Buy it here!