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After all the soprano singing and stepped-up heaviness of Njord, this EP is dominated by acoustic tracks in a much greater proportion than Leaves' Eyes' albums are - four of the seven songs here are acoustic. The title track, 'At Heaven's End' is sure to satisfy devotees of this band, as it has all the same elements as songs like 'Solemn Sea', 'Legend Land' and so forth - "heavy", chugging guitars, catchy and slightly Viking-like melodies and a sense of epic scale. Mandatory growls of the chorus by Mr. Krull, who is essentially Leaves' Eyes' Bez. In fact, they should give him some maracas to keep him occupied on stage, seeing as he just wanders around occasionally yelling the title of the song.
'Angus and the Swan' is a fitting showcase of lovely Liv, whose breasts have noticeably dominated album covers to a greater and greater degree of late. The choral chants toward the end remind nostalgically of Sirenia in better days, while the folky melodies are more at home in this sparse setting. 'Irish Rain' is another simple, compact acoustic number, featuring Liv's sister Carmen Elise , who isn't a bad singer in her own right, as can be heard from her own folky symphonic project Midnattsol.
'The Battle of Maldon' is a more impressive evolution in style for the band, and although it starts damply things really get going later on with crashing drums and an anthemic chorus fitting the woman who brought the world' first lady metal band to attention. It's nice to hear some soprano from Liv as well, rather than just the sugar-sweet crooning that dominates 95% of things she sings on - here she's more intimidating, as on her appearance in Cradle of Filth's 'Nymphetamine.'
There is also yet another version of 'Scarborough Fair', which has now appeared on two EPs and the album Njord. Although Liv's performance is frickin' fine, nice and clear with an honest sound to it, there is too much going on. The fragile beauty of Simon & Garfunkel's reimagining of this wonderful traditional ballad was in its minimalist aesthetic. Here, there are punchy, strumming guitars, leaping synths, strings, tribal drums, bagpipes, all sorts. The simple wist of the song is buried beneath a ton of add-ons and studio tricks. 'Nine Wave Maidens' has an impressive orchestral stomp over its acoustic plucks, and an impassioned performance by Liv. The remix of 'My Destiny' is fairly damp, just a lot of synthesized strings and clomping computerized drums.
There is nothing much special here, considering that the only new tracks are the first two (the other songs appeared variously on Njord and the EP My Destiny) yet Leaves' Eyes must be admired for sticking to their quirky brand of gothic and symphonic metal. Overall it's a decent background listen and a reasonable investment if you follow the band, as there is a good deal of exclusive stuff if you don't possess the aforementioned EP, but I can't recommend it to new initiates. Plump for any of the band's albums you don't already own, if you can't bring yourself to delve further back and get your Liv-fix through an album like Aegis or Velvet Darkness They Fear.