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A good goth album that is ultimately let down by some filler. - 78%

Voice_Of_Steel, July 7th, 2019
Written based on this version: 2004, CD, Napalm Records (Enhanced)

Shortly after leaving the acclaimed gothic doom/death metal band Theatre of Tragedy in 2003, legendary female metal vocalist Liv Kristine formed Leaves’ Eyes with the entire line-up from the German death metal band Atrocity to continue making heavily goth inspired music. Only a year later, Leaves’ Eyes’ debut record, Lovelorn was released to decent reception despite the album flying under the mainstream radar entirely. Due to this, the album is generally considered to be one of the better releases in the Leaves’ Eyes catalogue.

As the album begins, soft acoustic guitar is played along with melancholic keyboards until the highly distorted electric guitars kick in along with the drums. This build up eventually leads into a verse with Kristine’s iconic singing as all the other instruments besides the drums and synths stop playing. The verse is very melodic and leads into an equally melodic and absurdly catchy chorus before leading into yet another verse. The song repeats this formula a few times and eventually stops.

From this opening track, “Norwegian Love Song”, onward, it becomes clear to the listener that Lovelorn and, by extension, Leaves’ Eyes as a whole, is not going to be a continuation of Theater of Tragedy or contain much of Atrocity’s death metal influence either. Lovelorn is very light for a metal album. The writing throughout the album mostly focuses on building catchy and melodic choruses with Kristine’s vocal abilities rather than impress the listener with complexity or aggression. Because of this, her voice is placed at the center of the album as the guitars and the drums play in the background. This simplistic songwriting style is both Lovelorn’s main strength and weakness. This is due to the fact that when the choruses hit in songs like “The Dream” and “Tale of the Sea Maid”, the album is quite enjoyable and atmospheric because the verses and synths on the album build up to the excellent choruses. Problems arise, however, when these choruses fail to land because the backing music in the verses of the album is not enough to support the songs on its own. This problem mostly affects the second half of the album on songs such as “Secret” and “For Amelie” that are simply tedious to listen to because of the lack of any good hooks. Despite this issue, the rest of the album is able to successfully write in this style and ends up sounding similar to bands such as Lacuna Coil.

As previously mentioned, Lovelorn puts most of its focus on Liv Kristine’s vocal talents rather than each individual instrument. While this can be seen as a downside to the album, her voice sounds amazing throughout Lovelorn’s entire 41 minute runtime. Her vocals are very calm sounding and fit with the beauty of the synths that back them up. Generally speaking, her voice sticks in this calm range, but occasionally, on songs such as “Ocean’s Way” they become more operatic similar to bands such as Nightwish. As far as other band members go, both Mathias Roderer and Thorsten Bauer handle the guitar work on the entire album. The guitar playing on Lovelorn mostly consists of power chords that emit a lot of feedback and mostly give the album’s sound some depth. Aside from this, there is some acoustic guitar work that is pretty atmospheric and also some occasional soloing that is solid, albeit, underdeveloped. The only song where this changes is “Temptation” that has a guitar riff that is somewhat complex and death metal influenced. Overall the guitar work is tight, but for such a simplistic album, it is not a standout. The drumming on the album is handled by Martin Schmidt who performs quite well throughout its duration. Schmidt plays a ton of double bass on the album which is cool to hear on lighter music such as this. When he isn’t kicking away at the foot pedals, he is playing slower, more beat oriented drumming that keeps the time of the song and throws in some fills here and there. The bass on the album is handled by Christian Lukhaup, and it is almost completely inaudible making it pointless to even try to analyze. Lastly, the album actually does contain some harsh death growls courtesy of Alexander Krull who appears on a few of the songs. His vocals build a nice contrast between Kristine’s and are a nice addition when they are present.

In the end, Lovelorn is a solid debut album from a band that went on to make a few other solid albums that many people enjoy. The album is not a masterpiece, as evidenced by a few bad cuts, and it fails to live up to the back catalogues of the artists that played on it, but if the listener is able to put such things behind them while listening, Lovelorn is a good album. The only problem is, for the average metalhead, the album could be a tough sell. If you're looking for something heavy and aggressive stay far away from Lovelorn, but if you like goth rock/metal bands like Lacuna Coil and Krypteria, there might be something here for you.

Originally written for www.sputnikmusic.com under my alternate username

Where ebb and flow meet - 83%

FOrbIDen, February 16th, 2019
Written based on this version: 2004, CD, Scarecrow Records (Digipak, Enhanced)

Leaves' Eyes (among bands like Within Temptation, Epica, and After Forever) was one of the first bands I'd heard of when doing my deep dives into the gothic metal genre. And being the inexperienced ten year old that I was, I took what people said about this band at face value: Leaves' Eyes is a gothic metal band... but as I grew older I began to question this label a lot. Maybe it was just me trying to feel like my tastes were expanding past the first dozen or so bands that grasped my attention, but I always saw them as a symphonic folk metal act (especially in their later work, which is what I am more familiar with). But then came the day where I actually purchased a copy of their 2004 debut album Lovelorn, and it was only then that I realized Leaves' Eyes was indeed a gothic metal band. It's actually kind of jarring, not just based on the band's progression since this release, but within the band's own context. I mean, look at the artwork. Bright sandy colors that invoke the feeling of sunshine, Liv Kristine is wearing literal fishnets as though she is an interpretation of an island goddess. Nothing about the band's aesthetic invokes dark, atmospheric, moody music. And to be fair, the band only seems half way committed to that concept in general.

Leaves' Eyes was formed after the dismissal of Liv Kristine from Theatre of Tragedy. At the time, the Norwegian gothic doom pioneers claimed creative differences for splitting with Kristine, which comparing Theatre of Tragedy's progression towards metallic electro-pop, and this album released a year later, their claims were probably on hundred percent true. That being said, Leaves' Eyes was clearly meant to be a project that revolved around not just Liv's voice, but her identity as an artists and songwriter. Therein lies the problem... in 2003/2004, who was that exactly? Lovelorn is undeniably a heavy metal record, but it seems to be split between two main moods: gothic/symphonic operatics, and a warmer folksier slant, complete with acoustic instrumentation and atmospheric world music focus. I don't want to place the blame for this indecision solely on Liv Kristine, her then-husband Alexander Krull was very involved in this project and did a lot of the songwriting. But it seems that this band went in the gothic direction because that's what people would be expecting, not necessarily because it's what they wanted.

And that's not to say that they did a bad job. Liv Kristine finally gets the chance to unfurl a bit and show off her singing chops. She still has that iconic breathiness that she eventually learned to not do so much, which I think is a good thing as it tends to make the overall production sound less clean. She handles her own vocal melodies and lyrics with much more confidence and gusto than anything else she's done before, and I think the instrumentation meets her power quite well. None of the instrumentation is really spectacular, the music is heavy and adequate enough but doesn't call attention to itself. I don't think there's a single guitar riff on this album that I can hum from memory, the sonic focus of this album clearly lies elsewhere. The band essentially adds rhythm and girth, but the real draw to this record is the melodies. Lead vocals, harmonies, and various layers of keyboard and piano frills, etc. This is where most of the appeal and drama lives in this album.

The material on Lovelorn is generally strong. There are some dips in quality, most notably the title track and the emotional "For Amelie" fall a little flat; not that they're unpleasant to listen to, they just err on the forgettable side of things. Personally, I think the band is at their best when they fully embrace the identity that they made out for themselves. Songs like "Ocean's Way", "Temptation", and (my personal favorite song on the album) "The Dream" are examples of when they are at their darkest and most dramatic, and at their best. The atmosphere is rich and the melodies are strong and catchy, and the inclusion of the Alexander's beast to Liv's beauty on some of these songs adds harshness to balance out the ephemeral tone of the album. Every song does include the twanging of the folk acoustics, but it doesn't infringe upon the darker soundscape that they've made, it just adds texture. It's in the songs that are in the middle of the crossroads of the two moods (like the album opener) that it doesn't mesh as well, and makes the material come off as twee rather than worldly or progressive.

Lovelorn is a strong and pleasant record, it doesn't do anything radically new or different but it was a successful launch of Liv Kristine as the face of a new band in which she took more of an active role in the music she was singing. It was also a successful launch of this band as a whole, however there is something that did catch my attention when listening to it. That being that Lovelorn is basically an Elis record; with an addition of electronic programming, this would've essentially been a second God's Silence; Devil's Temptation. It sounds to me that as the band was writing the album and struggled for a clear and balanced identity, Krull decided to lift some from a band that he had worked with in the past. As I really like Elis, and considering what Leaves' Eyes would go on to do in the future is somewhat divorced from this debut it's not something that I particularly take umbrage with, but it did make me go "that's familiar" all the same. That's not to take away from the merits of this album. Though perhaps derivative, it is a quality offering of feathery gothic metal with a breathtaking ambience and beautiful vocals.

For fans of epic, atmospheric Goth metal ‘Leaves E - 80%

krozza, October 6th, 2004

I was listening to commercial radio the other day (don’t ask why), when ‘Wuthering Heights’ was featured. It got me thinking – what ever became of that waif like figure with the impossibly high voice - Kate Bush? No doubt she’s long retired, disappeared into obscurity, comfortable with her lot and filthy rich to boot. Or, she has somehow reinvented herself as the front-lass of German Goth Metal act ‘Leaves Eyes’.

Of course, I’m being facetious here – ‘Leaves Eyes’ is the new band for Ex-Theatre of Tragedy vocalist Liv Kristine - but there is no doubting the uncanny resemblance of Liv’s vocal play to that of one Ms. K.Bush! (Aside from those often used high shrieks). And despite the quality of the musical accompaniment of her band, there is also no doubting the fact that Liv is very much the star of the ‘Leaves Eyes’ show.

To be honest I wasn’t expecting too much from this album – Sure, Liv was great with Theatre of Tragedy, yet musically they never made a massive impression on me. I preferred my gothic metal to be tinged with a little more edginess than they provided. I suspect Liv may have wanted this too. Fortunately, Liv didn’t have to search too far for a band that could meet her requirements – ‘Leaves Eyes’ is made up of the entire line up of German Metal act ‘Atrocity’, led by non other than Alexander Krull – Liv’s husband! Obviously, their collaboration together was always going to happen. The results are stunning (although their very awkward name is not!).

Lovelorn is a 10-track affair, separated into chapters that form some sort of mystical love story concept. For me, this fact is a little hit & miss, but as for the music there is much to admire. ‘Leaves Eyes’ are a pure romantic Goth metal act, with an extreme emphasis on providing huge layers of atmospheric melodies (with pop like sensibilities), sweet angelic passages (that recall the likes of Enya and Arcana) and a healthy dose of metallic guitar riffage for that darker edge I was alluding to earlier. The first two opening tracks (Norwegian Lovesong and Tale of a Sea Maid) on this are simply irresistible in their gothic grandeur and passionate melodic vocals. Liv’s main squeeze Alex, chimes in with some aggressive rasps here and there for some nice variation, but fortunately keeps his vocal presence to a minimum. After all, this is Liv’s show.

I like the production on ‘Lovelorn’ – Alex Krull knows which knobs to turn when looking to provide that heady combination of hard edge riffage with soulful melodic passages. True to form, he has kept Liv’s vocals high in the mix and along with the well placed keyboard elements; the combination works extremely well in emphasizing that layered effect that most of these tracks display so well.

As a set of songs, ‘Lovelorn’ is a varied album and each seems to provide for a different feel and mood, although the overwhelming emotion is of sadness and melancholy. I’m not sure that anything on the album matches the standard of the opening two tracks; suffice to say that the single ‘Into Your light’ works well in highlighting the essential musical aspects of this band. The accompanying video clip of the same song is also a welcomed addition to this album and gives the listener an added visual aspect of ‘Leaves Eyes’ – I’m sure most metal heads will want to ‘see more’ of Liv after viewing this clip. Nice legs. Nice work!

Overall, I am rather surprised at the quality of ‘Lovelorn’. It is certainly a much stronger affair than I first believed. The songs are well written and superbly executed – the vocal melodies of Liv being the absolute highlight. This one is a keeper folks - for fans of epic, atmospheric Goth metal ‘Leaves Eyes’ are well worth further investigation.

Mediocrity - 65%

Benign_Hypocrite, October 6th, 2004

Leaves’ Eyes is one of the new bands in the world of metal.But I don’t know if this album is metal or something else!However I decided to find the cd because of Liv Kristine who I knew her as songstress of Theatre Of Tragedy.She was basic member in the glorious days of this band and she is known for her soft beautiful and emotional voice.Now in this band plays her husband too,he is the male vocalist and the two of them are a good duet.First of all,I saw that this is gothic metal.But the most gothic metal bands are more gothic than metal.This is just my opinion.The album starts well with the first song “Norwegian lovesong”,a simple guitar tune,however beautiful and crystal.the keyboards that give more emotional atmosphere and the beautiful voice of Liv.Very good song for sure and one of the best in this album.The lyrics are also emotional and lovely.The second song “Tale of the sea-maid” is one another nice song with catchy chorus and melodies,its in the style of “Norwegian lovesong”,very good song too.The third song “Ocean’s Way” is one of the best in this album too,here we listen for the first in this album the vocals of Alex Krull.They give more powerful atmosphere in the song.The fourth song “lovelorn” is the title of the album too,soft,emotional song with combined with the sweet voice of Liv.But this thing is getting boring after the fourth song,I think “temptation” is the most heavy song in this album,with fast drums at some points.But all the songs continue in the same style and this thing is boring.The production is just good not something awesome,but its ok.If you’re fan of old theatre of tragedy and you like the voice of Liv Kristine very much you have to listen to this,I think that you like it.But its not something unique or something perfect to listen.Just for the fans of this sort of metal.