Label : Napalm Records
Review by Tony Cannella
Liv Kristine has become more prominent as a solo artist these days. Of course her main gig is still Leaves’ Eyes, but she has managed to release a few solo albums in that bands downtime. The material is different and goes in a more pop direction than Leaves’ Eyes, but that’s okay, I mean what would be the point of doing a solo album if it is a carbon copy of your regular band? On her fourth solo album “Libertine”, Liv continues to explore her pop music side. Liv has always been an excellent lyricist but with her solo career she writes from more of a personal perspective rather than about Vikings, history and telling complex stories. “Libertine” has a playing time of about 40-minutes and the songs have a relatively immediate impact, starting with the soft opener “Interlude” which leads into the more rocking “Solve Me”. “Vanilla Skin Delight” is a great up-tempo song that sees Liv performing a magical duet with German singer Tobias Regner. This is definitely one of the finest moments that “Libertine” has to offer. In contrast, the next song “Panic” is a piano driven ballad that builds as the song progresses but it never strays too far from ballad territory. One thing “Libertine” does so well is shift from softer moments to more up-tempo songs. Other highlights include: “Paris Paris” (one of the more rock oriented songs), “Love Crime”, “Libertine” and the closing cover of the Kate Bush song “The Man with the Child in His Eyes”. There is good pop and then there is bad pop. With “Libertine” Liv has recorded a good, spirited, pop rock album, with a lot of soul, heart and passion.
Rating – 90/100
- Solve Me
- Vanilla Skin Delight
- Paris Paris
- Wait for Rain
- Love Crime
- Meet Me in the Red Sky
- The Man With the Child in His Eyes
- Liv Kristine – Vocals
- JB van der Wal – Electric and Acoustic Guitars, Bass, Keys & Programming
- Thorsten Bauer – Electric and Acoustic Guitars, Bass & Keys
- Alessandro Panto – Piano
- Christoph Kutzer – Cello
- Felix Born – Drums and Percussion
Interview by Ary R.
Considered a great icon in the metal world, Liv Kristine is one of the metal queen of the fronted metal scene. On the occasion of her new release, “Libertine”, Femme Metal had the honor of interviewing this amazing Norwegian singer.
Today I have the BIG pleasure of playing host Liv Kristine, my idol since ever. Hi Liv and welcome to Femme Metal.net. Tusen takk for din tid How are you doing?
Thank you so much, I and the rest of the guys are doing really well, veldig bra! We’ve been on tour for four weeks now, Leaves’ Eyes and Firewind, and I have to tell you this tour is the best tour I’ve ever experienced because there are only, ONLY, really nice and lovely people on board of this Nightliner.
Let me say that for me is a very big, big pleasure to interview you today. Let’s break the ice and let’s talk about your fourth studio album, “Libertine”. It has been released via Napalm Records a few weeks ago. How were the feedbacks for this new record?
The feedback from the press and fans for “Libertine” have been absolutely amazing, world-wide, actually the best ones I’ve ever had so far in my 20-years long career. I am so grateful for this, I am very moved. My inner voice tells me that I need to go on tour and play these songs live as soon as possible!
What are the biggest differences compared to your previous albums?
“Deus ex Machina” was very atmospheric, reminding you a bit about Irish Enya, a real pop-album. “Enter My Religion” was more guitar-based and earthly with many interesting exotic folk influences. “Skintight” had some influence from J. Cash, which sometimes gives the listeners a warm and here-and-now camp-fire feeling experience. “Libertine” is a back-to-the-roots album, containing the most emotional ballads I’ve ever composed, it even has a dark but sweet feeling to it, through both the piano, the dark bass lines and guitars. I see every album becoming more and more individual, just like I am getting closer to myself. I would say all of my albums are somehow indie, pop or rock.
“Libertine” is surely a fresh and a direct record and, under some points of view, it reminds some resonances of Theatre of Tragedy’s masterpieces like “Aegis” and “Musique” in songs like “Paris Paris” or “Solve Me” (I was under this impression, correct me if I’m wrong ). Was the choice purely accidental or was it something that you wanted to do?
“Libertine”, as you correctly pointed out, is an album going back to the roots, to my years with Theatre of Tragedy. During my solo concert in German Nagold last December I just felt that the time had come to let in all the experience I gathered during my years with Theatre of Tragedy, moreover, to forgive my ex-band members and their fatal decision in 2003 to exclude me from the band. In Nagold I played the demo version of the more heavy rocker “Libertine” just to see how the audience react on it. There and then I understood that this is the right way to go. My fans showed me the way. I have to tell you that I feel truly privileged – First of all I am grateful to my fans and friends for giving me all this respect, love and good energy, some of them following me since my ex-band Theatre of Tragedy came into existence about 17-18 years ago. My fans have granted me this freedom I appreciate so much. Through both Leaves’ Eyes and my solo project I am able to live out my musical instinct.
This record has been produced by your husband (and collegue) Alexander Krull. How did you feel like working with your own husband? Why have you chosen to cooperate with him instead of collaborating with some other producer?
I actually prefer working with my husband. To tell you the truth: I like “to cook in my own kitchen”. Alexander produced the album at our own Mastersound Studio. We are very privileged to have our own studio, and it is superb having my husband next to me. He, and my guitar player Thorsten, know me the best. Both of them know how to push me just a little bit further…and in the end, I am so happy to have achieved a new goal. Their opinions mean very much to me. Of course we do have discussions sometimes, I mean, we are all perfectionists and very stubborn, however, we always come up with a perfect solution.
Would you like to say something about the concept of the artwork? For what I see there’s a lot of red in it Who has taken care of it and of the promoshoot related to it?
I had from the very beginning a clear idea of how the artwork should be. All the paintings you see are my own, which I painted myself. The only thing I wasn’t sure about was the front cover. One Saturday I found this lovely red dress in a little shop, and I thought it would be absolutely perfect for a front picture. Then I discovered this red umbrella…and these high-heeled shoes! All I had to do was to put on my red favorite Chanel lipstick, which I have used for the last ten years, go outside in the sun and have Alex make photos of me. Stefan Heilemann then re-worked everything to make the artwork look exactly how I wanted it.
To give your fans a little “appetizer”, you’ve played an acoustic show in Germany, “One Night With Liv Kristine” and you’ve introduced the audience a brand new song, that is the title track of your last album. Would you like to reveal some little details of this particular evening?
As already mentioned, In Nagold was this moment during my concert in Nagold, Germany, December 2011, when I first presented the demo song “Libertine” to my audience. I had also performed a handful of Theatre of Tragedy songs, because it was my wish. There and then I understood in which musical direction my up-coming album would be, more powerful, more back to the roots. Everybody was there, my closest friends and family, my fantastic fans from all over the world, Argentina, Belgium, Denmark, UK, Finland, Spain, Holland and all over Germany. I was so happy! This was a very special night for me, so special that I will do it again in December 22nd this year!
Have you ever thought of creating an acoustic album with Leaves’ Eyes or in your solo career? I think that this would be something nice for your fans. I would be the first one to buy an album like that
That’s a very good idea! I’d love to, but right now we are already working on our fifth full-length studio album.
In order to promote your new record in the best way possible, you’ve asked Patric Ullaeus from Revolver Film Company Ab to direct a videoclip of yours for the single “Paris Paris”. He already worked with “giants” like Dimmu Borgir, In Flames and many others. What could you tell about this little work experience? How come have you decided to ask him for directing your new videoclip?
I just love working with Patric and his Revolver team as he already produced two Leaves’ Eyes clips and one for my solo single “Skintight”, this is such a great honor, and pleasure! He is able to read my thoughts and ideas, he is just the best, that’s all I can say. Even when my suitcase got lost by the Airline in Paris with all my dresses, nobody panicked and Patric made a few phone-calls. His wife, Tara, is my favorite make-up artist, I am always in good hands when she is doing my make-up! I am very, very proud of the clip for “Paris Paris”.
Let’s talk about the single “Paris Paris”. It was your “first choice” to promote the album. As I mentioned before, to me it recalls some resonances with some old work by Theatre Of Tragedy. What could you tell about this new single? If I’m not mistaken, there are some verses sung in French…
“Paris Paris” was actually a demo song I prepared for Theatre of Tragedy, but it was never recorded. However, I re-wrote it for fun using the program Garage band. My co-musicians loved it and all the instruments were recorded new. It is definitely a very refreshing song! The video clip is online as well. I’ve visited Paris many times, and by and by I’ve learned to enjoy this city, with its small cafes on the street corners, serving even the smaller cappuccino. Charming.
This new record includes two “gems”. The first one is the duet on the track “Vanilla Skin Delight”, that sees the attendance of the third-season winner of ‘Deutschland Sucht Den Superstar’, Tobias Regner. What could you say about this cooperation with this guy? How did it happen?
I am so happy to have worked with Tobias Regner. His voice is amazing. He was one of the Superstar-winners in Germany, and he is definitely my favorite. We met through a common friend, luckily, as my band mates suggested that we look for a male voice for “Vanilla Skin Delight”. 48 hours later he knocked on the studio door of Mastersound Studio and we became friends straight away! We had so many stories to tell. He is a true professional and he did such a great job in front of the microphone. I really hope we will be able to perform this song together some day.
The second gem is Kate Bush’s cover, “The Man With a Child in His Eyes”. What has pushed you to revise this song?
Kate Bush and Tori Amos are truly my greatest influences vocally. Since I never had any musical education I have found my own way to prepare my voice before a concert or recording session in which I sing along to either of these wonderful voices. It was my best friend, Katja, who had this idea that I should cover Kate. During one of our girls’ evenings…parties…I started singing from the top of my voice along to Kate…the next day I was worried what the neighbors would say. Katja’s neighbors did not complain… and my friend inspired me to record the track for “Libertine”. It was recorded in a one- take session.
Currently you’re promoting your new record and you’re also on tour with your own band. Have you already planned something new for Leaves’ Eyes or for your solo career? Will we ever see you in a “solo” tour?
When we get back from this tour Leaves’ Eyes will start the recordings for our fifth full-length album as already mentioned, moreover, we will play a few concerts in the winter. I have planned a few solo concerts, exclusive ones, for mid and end December as well, Nagold is already settled and announced for the 22.12.2012. I hope for tours for both bands next year!
As I mentioned in the previous question, you’re currently on the road in Europe with Firewind. How did it happen? What do you think, personally, of Gus G as musician and as a person as well?
I can tell you Gus is such a lovely person, very, very warm-hearted and kind. He is also an absolutely amazing musician. It’s such a pleasure being on the road and sharing Nightliner with Firewind.
You’ve played in France, UK, Germany and Belgium at the moment. How come haven’t you decided to play all over Europe? Will there be a second “chance” to see you on tour with Firewind again?
I would really hope so, also in other continents. All of us get along so well. It would be so nice touring together also in the future. Our fans also LE the package of both bands being on the same bill.
Short time ago, I’ve discovered that you’ve joined Firewind on stage during the performance of “Break the Silence”. Originally the female parts were sung by Tara Teresa. How has been the performance so far?
Absolutely amazing, I am going to join Firewind in a few minutes as I am sitting here, talking to you. The audience go crazy because Firewind hasn’t played this song since 2006 with Tara. I love Tara‘s voice, she is fantastic. I feel very honored to sing her parts.
Recent is also the news that Leaves’ Eyes were forced to cancel some dates in USA and you’ll play there next year. Could you please explain us, in short, the reason why you’ve been asked to cancel some dates of this tour?
Yes, that was south-America. I am deeply sorry. This was due to troubles with organization. I am really sorry. We will make up for this as soon as possible. In 99% of cancellations it is really not on the bands’ hands. All we want to do is to play and meet our fans and friends!
Last year Leaves’ Eyes shared the stage with Midnattsol, led by your sister Carmen. What do you remember of this experience with a big affection? How did it happen to make a tour together?
We had wanted to tour together for such a long time, and then our dream came true! It was fantastic having my sister next to me singing “Kråkevisa”, the traditional Norwegian song. I can’t wait to visit my sister in Norway again for Chistmas!
If I’m not wrong, “Meredead” included a typical traditional song sung in your mother tongue and your sister sang in it. Could you please reveal us the concept of this song? Of course we’re talking of “Kråkevisa” (The Crow Song ). If I’m not mistaken, this song was put in streaming, right before the release of the record…
To record this traditional tune, turning it into a Leaves Eyes song was an idea of my friend Anette, and my sister, Carmen, both of them joining me on guest vocals.
You’re not “new” with duets and stuff. Among the biggest ones, we surely remember “Nymphetamine” (Cradle Of Filth), “See Me in Shadow” (Delain), Atrocity, Doro Pesch and so on. What do you remind about these duets? Is there any artist you would like to cooperate with in a nearest future?
Ozzy Osbourne! Kate Bush and Tori Amos.
A few months ago, it has been said that Theatre of Tragedy wanted to re-issue some of your old works (your self-title album, “Velvet Darkness They Fear” and “Aegis”). How did you react to this news? Are you still in good terms with your former band members?
I had no idea about this, but I appreciate it. I am still in contact with Raymond, living in Brazil since a few years.
This was my last question. Thanks so much for your time and for having allowed us this little interview. Is there something you would like to say to our readers and your fans out there? We hope to see you soon in Italy
Thank you for being there for me all these years, with Theatre of Tragedy, Leaves’ Eyes and my solo work. It has been lovely to see many of you at our European tour Leaves’ Eyes and Firewind. I also hope you enjoy “Libertine” as much as I did composing and recording it. I can’t wait to play it live for you! Love, Liv.
Label : AFM Records
Review by Tony Cannella
Now for something complete different. Eklipse are a German string quartet who gives their special treatment to some modern rock and pop songs, some well known, others are not. Eklipse really are not a metal band; however they have been chosen to open for Nightwish, which is a cool thing. Whether you like the songs chosen or not, Eklipse has certainly breathed new life into some of the material. The members of Eklipse portray a sexy image and there is always the danger that it might overshadow the music. I don’t think that’s the case at all on “A Night of Strings”. The band offers their takes on such songs as “Wonderful Life”, Linkin Park’s “In the End”, “Cry Me a River” by Justin Timberlake (which the band also made a video out of) and “Paparazzi” by Lady Gaga. Eklipse gives the songs a melancholic twist. Of course this is not music to band your head to; it’s more or less something that you can chill out to. I don’t know how this will go over with a metal audience, but it is still quite different than what the metal community is used to. The four musicians who make up Eklipse are obviously very talented. It would be interesting to see how their music translates into a live setting. It might be appealing to hear Eklipse cover more traditional metal songs, or even write their own material at some point, and one or two guest vocalists wouldn’t hurt either. Wherever they go from here, Eklipse has definitely put their own stamp on some well known songs.
Rating – 79/100
- Wonderful Life (Hurts)
- In the End (Linkin Park)
- New Moon Theme
- Home (Depeche Mode)
- Cry Me a River (Justin Timberlake)
- Cloudbusting (Kate Bush)
- Paparazzi (Lady Gaga)
- Run (Snow Patrol)
- Mumbai (Bombay OST)
- Clocks (Coldplay)
Label : Black Logde Records
Review by Tony Cannella
For those who are lamenting the demise of the guitar hero, then I have got a band for you. They are called AREA51 and hail from Japan. They have been in existence since 2003 and the two main forces behind the band are vocalist Kate Cain and guitar god to be Yoichiro Ishina. Their second album – which came out in 2008 – is titled “Daemonicus” and is a whirlwind of a CD with angelic vocals provided by Kate Cain in conjunction with soaring neo classical, melodic metal arrangements and great leads played by Yoichiro Ishina. On “Daemonicus” Kate Cain wrote the majority of the lyrics and even though the song titles are listed in English, the songs are sung in Japanese. The intro track “Introitus” start off the 10-track, 58-minute CD and segues into the powerful “Les Anges”. The next track “Ashes” has an early Yngwie Malmsteen vibe to it but this is also one of the faster paced songs on “Daemonicus”. Following the all out guitar frenzy of the previous track, AREA51 follow that with the beautiful ballad, “Venus (Croix Eternelle)”. Lead vocalist Kate is a very flamboyant front person. In addition to her great vocals she also adds a lot to the visual presentation of AREA51. There is plenty of cool interplay between the guitars and keyboards that recall some classic bands like Rainbow and Uriah Heep. The final song is the 16-minute epic “Lord Knows” in which Kate Cain is joined by one of the most accomplished American singers Rob Rock. This song is unique in that the lyrics were co-written by Kate and Rock, so Kate’s parts are sung in Japanese and Rock’s in English.The thing I liked most about “Daemonicus” is not necessarily the guitar gymnastics supplied by Yoichiro but it was the songs which are obviously the main focus of the band. With “Daemonicus”, AREA51 combine the best of ALL worlds, outstanding musicianship with some great, well crafted and memorable songs.
Rating – 90/100
- Les Anges
- Venus (Croix Eternelle)
- Close To…(You and Me)
- Just Like a Prayer
- Lord Knows
- Kate Cain – Vocals
- Yoichiro Ishina – Guitars
- Takeshi Ochi – Keyboards
- Kensuke Imai – Drums
Label : Black Listed Records
Review By Tony Cannella
The third – and latest – album from the Japanese Metal Maestros AREA51 is titled “Goddess” and it continues using the same approach as their previous work while still progressing. Many of the same qualities are at work here that was featured on their previous release. AREA51 continues to provide great, emotive vocalizing from Kate Cain and the guitar virtuosity of Yoichiro Ishina but besides that the band seems to have grown as musicians and songwriters. The 45-minute CD opens with the movie soundtrack-like intro “Naissance” which lead us into the blood pumping Yngwie-esque track “Nightmare”. The next track is the heavy “Regret et Larme”, which quickly became among my favorites. “Begins of Dissolution” is a huge sounding track that mixes different tempos with huge effectiveness. “Marionnette” opens with a great guitar riff which really highlights the track, which is an up-tempo blazing number. Other highlights include: “Miss You”, “VANITAS” and “Sincerity”. Overall, “Goddess” is more stripped down and raw sounding than their previous work. AREA51 are a band that seems to be firing on all cylinders now and “Goddess” is this talented band from Japan at their very best.
Rating – 92/100
- Naissance (Intro)
- Regret et Larme
- Begins of Dissolution
- Miss You
- U. TA. KA. TA
- Kate Cain – Vocals
- Yoichiro Ishina – Guitars
Style switcher only on this demo version. Theme styles can be changed from Options page.
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- Parallax – “Sputnik” EP (2013)
- Inviolate – “Feast of Ashes” EP (2012)
- Illnath – “Third Act in the Theatre of Madness” (2011)
- Hysterica – “The Art of Metal” (2012)
- Hand of God – “The Hand of God” (2013)
- Flames of Fury – “FoF” EP (2013)
- Effloresce – “Coma Ghosts” (2012)
- Marie Fredriksson – “Nu!” (2013)
- Anneke Van Giersbergen
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- Phildel – “The Glass Ghost” EP (2013)
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- Storyum – “Insomnia” (2012)
- Snei Ap – “Hidden Floors” EP (2013)
- Sin7sinS – “Carnival of No Tomorrow” (2012)
- MaterDea – “Satyricon” (2011)
- Rampart – “War Behast” (2012)
- Lita Ford – “The Bitch is Back… Live” LIVE ALBUM (2013)
- Epysode – “Fantasmagoria” (2013)
- Beyond God – “Dark Light of Dawn” EP (2013)
- Ayreon – “The Theory of Everything” (2013)
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