Published on February 5th, 2018 | by Justin G.
Leaves’ Eyes: Sign of the Dragonhead (AFM)
German symphonic metal band Leaves’ Eyes has a lot to prove with their latest full-length album Sign of the Dragonhead. It’s their first full album since the departure of original vocalist Liv Kristine, so the band needs to win over those fans who considered Kristine’s vocals the main attraction. Fortunately their new vocalist – Elina Siirala (also in Angel Nation) – has a similar style, and arguably a stronger voice. It helps that the band has turned in their most epic work to date in Sign of the Dragonhead, a conceptual work once again focusing on Viking themes.
To be honest, I’ve never been a Leaves’ Eyes fan. I’ve tried multiple albums and just found them a bit too light and airy and (and I know this is cliché) “not metal enough.” I caught them live with Elina singing recently though and was surprised at how much I enjoyed them, so I gave Sign of the Dragonhead a fair shot. It’s still a little on the light side at times, but I never really doubted whether to call it a metal album. Underneath the symphonic elements and the folk trappings (which are used to great effect), this packs a punch. It helps that Alexander Krull (also of Atrocity) lends a well-placed growl here and there. Everything just comes together nicely on this album. The songs satisfy individually while strengthening the themes of the larger album, the melodies are infectious, the folk instruments add depth as well as authenticity to the Viking themes, and Siirala’s vocals work perfectly for the kind of metal Leaves’ Eyes is making.
Consider me won over by the new Leaves’ Eyes. Sign of the Dragonhead is a fantastic epic folk metal album, and ought to more than satisfy current Leaves’ Eyes fans. It should also win over fans of Elvenking, Falconer and especially the newer, more folk-driven Nightwish material.
Format Notes: The limited edition CD version of Sign of the Dragonhead comes in a sturdy digibook and includes a pair of bonus tracks as well as a second disc with instrumental versions of all the regular album tracks. It’s a nice upgrade, and worth the few extra bucks if you’re a serious Leaves’ Eyes fan.
Summary: OK, maybe I can be a Leaves' Eyes fan after all.