Liv Kristine – Vervain
Release Date: November 4, 2014
Norwegian bands remind me of dense, dark, mystical forests filled with wicked little creatures that prance about. Some make you smile, some make you fearful. With Halloween upon us, it is the time of year to be cautious, but cautious is something Leaves’ Eyes vocalist Liv Kristine has never been throughout her storied career, and as usual she kicks caution in the ass for her new solo effort, Vervain. This luscious piece of work with its 10 tracks of strong velvet like vocals is nothing for her to be ashamed of, and nothing for fans to be fearful of.
Now, I am not proud to say this but I feel I must. I have never been too fond of female fronted bands, singers, or females in general. I know it probably comes from some deep seeded self loathing somewhere of my own gender (and I am working on it) mixed with jealousy and especially envy if they are talented musicians and singers. I have only been in awe of about five female vocalists in all the years I have had ears to listen with them. I really wanted with all my dark poisoned heart to not like this album. Alas, as hard as I resisted it all I was sucked in and left empty by the time the record ended. My life is forever changed!
The vocals may be a bit misleading at times because you are tempted to compare her to Amy Lee of Evanescence, but Kristine is more ethereal than Ms. takes herself too seriously” Lee tends to be. There is an undeniable romantic undertone of this record (or I could be just incredibly aroused?). None more apparent than on the beautiful “Lotus” with its elegant haunting classical piano, lilting, soothing tones and; Hark! Violins beckon me on a midnight moonlit path with my lover, in the woods for a rendezvous of heavy passion that can only be quenched by kisses and embraces of epic magnitude leading to a cacophony of sounds climaxing into a forceful release as I cry out for more….and then all is calm. Damn, I need a cigarette and I don’t even smoke. This is the gothic equivalent of Barry White.
Kristine, always a fan of bringing her friends into the mix, shares two amazing duets on this record with the Queen of Heavy Metal, Doro Pesch, on the track “Stronghold of Angels”. Doro and Liv on the same song—need I say more? She also does a masterful turn with End of Green vocalist, Michelle Darkness on the track “Love Decay”. Both tracks hint at some of Liv’s earlier works with Theatre of Tragedy.
I did get rather confused about the track, “Elucidation”. As I was unfamiliar with the word and its meaning so I needed clarification. This is ironic as that’s precisely what it means. (See you learn something new every day.) But once the tune was under way it was very apparent what was taking place. It’s almost like the glow from candle light, not so much full on 80 watt bulb sort of stuff. That is the magic of Vervain, the album’s tracks dance eloquently between darkness and light, each track uniquely emotive.
Overall, Vervain this is a nice piece of work and I am forever changed by the spell it has cast over my hard cynical existence. Kristine manages to blend her beautiful soprano vocals over moments of ambient doom and rich melodic textures to create a poignant and eclectic mix of melancholy and hope. Although my front yard is still scarier than this CD. I have learned that gothic like souls can sing, and, yes they do sound like angels. I give it a 9 out of 10 Love Bites…