Label : Code666/Aural Music
Review by Luisa Mercier
After a few years from the acclaimed debut “Anthology II”, French avantgarde metal-band Akphaezya is back with a new and interesting full-length. The structure of “Anthology IV” is that of an Ancient Greece tragedy with Prologue, the following plot and an Epilogue.
Even most of the title are Ancient Greek words, chosen among the most important values and concepts that Greeks used to hold dear. On a musical side note, I have to say that the previous record was very prog and jazzy oriented, while this one is way heavier and maybe more omogenuous.
Above all, shine the vocals of Nehl Aelin (also keyboards player), the talented singer who once again showcases all her versatility. “Prologue” opens “Anthology IV” and it is a short intro where creepy vocals mingle with electronics. Continue reading »
LEAVES’ EYES — the German/Norwegian band formed by ex-THEATRE OF TRAGEDY singer Liv Kristine Espenaes Krull and members of ATROCITY — has set “Symphonies Of The Night” as the title of its new album, due later in the year via Napalm Records.
A new LEAVES’ EYES video, for the song “Melusine”, featuring footage from live shows, tours and festivals like Wacken Open Air in 2012, can be seen below.
Label : Hypnotic Dirge Records
Review by Vard Aman
“The want to flee consumes me,
The urge to succumb eats its way,
Through a brawn weakened by seclusion”
Doom Metal is one of the most, if not the most varied and extreme forms of metal. When played badly, or is recorded badly, it can be abysmally bad (in a bad way); but when it is played well, there are few forms of music more powerful and more stirring than Doom Metal. Doom Metal is usually associated with scenarios of despair, depression, emptiness and, well, doom; but, when played well, I’ve always found it to be uplifting – a way to expose, revel in and release “the doom” through dramatization in a powerful extended aural climax. If you want to depress me, play me Justin Bieber, if you want to make me happy, play me some good Doom Metal. If Doom Metal conjures images of emptiness, then it’s an epic; a passionate; and a dramatic emptiness, a drama that plays on, and plays out the extremes of our imaginations and our imagined (or real) fears, losses and sorrows.
Well, good Doom Metal does anyway; bad Doom Metal, it is fair to say, can often spell instant boredom. Lycanthia, fortunately, are good Doom Metal. No, they’re more than that; they’re VERY good Doom Metal, and that means that everything in my somewhat purple-prosy description of good Doom Metal applies to them, and in great abundance! Lycanthia are from Sydney, Australia, and formed in 1996. In 1999 they released their debut “Myriad”, followed by lineup changes, an EP in 2006 called “Within the Walls”, more lineup changes, and now, in 2012, their second full length, “Oligarchy”. This band has staying power, and this is reflected not just in their continuing determination, but in their sound as well. Their sound is a Death Doom/Gothic Doom combo, nothing groundbreaking in that, but it’s the way they play what they play that makes Lycanthia the standout band they are and “Oligarchy” the standout album it is. Take the best parts of the harsher side of My Dying Bride mixed with the best parts of “Velvet Darkness They Fear”-era Theatre of Tragedy mixed with a bit of Draconian and you have Lycanthia. Are you drooling yet? No? OK, then add not one, but two extremely talented female vocalists (Vanessa Black and Megan Tassaker – also in Avrigus) whose wistful and melodic vocals are contrasted by a male vocalist (Lee Tassaker) whose raw, plaintive growls and shrieks would make most Death/Black Doom Metal vocalists proud. Now are you drooling? Still not? OK, go and listen to some Justin Bieber then… The heaviness, the power and the emotion is almost relentless throughout “Oligarchy”, further emphasized by the somber melodies. Likewise the contrast between the power of Lee’s growls and the melodic vocals of Vanessa and Megan (solo and harmonizing) serve to emphasize both.
On top of that, Vanessa and Megan contrast each other vocally too, and to the music itself they add violins and keyboards respectively. Stylistically, most of the songs on “Oligarchy” are fairly similar to each other, which is a good thing when you can’t get enough of this band and their musical creations. “Forgone” was the first song to be released, a single if you like. It’s a good summary of what this album is about, and when you get this album you can expect much more of this. “Hair of the Beast” is somewhat different to the other tracks, and this one takes a few more listens to get into than the others, perhaps for that reason. Lyrically, Lycanthia are as good as they are musically. They have all the poetic doom, emptiness, sorrow and despair that one would expect from this kind of music, but there is an additional element: a fantasy story-telling element – most prominently highlighted by the song “Forgone” which is a tale of a young god who falls in love with a mortal, enraging the other gods who strip him of his immortality as a consequence (a Lycanthia creation that sounds like it could be based on actual mythology, and there probably are many parallels) – just when you thought it couldn’t get more epic. But this is “epic” in the Doom Metal sense, so don’t expect any happy stories with happy endings – expect some very powerful stuff. Highlights off the album? All of them, although “Forgone” and “Despondency in Crescendo” are particular standouts and “Time Feeds These Wounds” and “Hair of the Beast” (as I’ve already mentioned) take a few listens to get into. So how highly do I rate this album against the many Doom Metal albums I’ve heard and own? As I am writing this review, I have been listening to this album for about a week and it’s still growing on me (“Forgone” since it was first released on YouTube). There have been some fantastic albums released by some fantastic bands, but if anyone breaks into my house right now (beating all my booby traps… just in case the thought crosses anyone’s mind… I am a Saffer after all), holds me at gunpoint and steals my collection, Lycanthia’s “Oligarchy” is the one they will have to prize out of my cold, dead hands. Or, maybe, considering that Lycanthia is not the biggest name out there they might be a bit more reluctant to fight over it and perhaps they might let me keep it… hehe, their loss if they do! But if they do take it, I’ll give them these bits of advice: listen to it loud and with the lights out (seriously, try it); and if for some reason they’re trying to maintain a tough-guy-who-doesn’t-blub-to-music image, they might want to listen to it alone – just in case they can’t handle the powerful and extended aural climax of one of best representatives and examples of one the ultimate forms of music. And then give it back, dammit!
Rating – 98/100
- The Essential Components of Misery
- Ablaze the Wheel Turns
- Despondency in Crescendo
- Time Feeds These Wounds
- Hair of the Beast
- From Ancestral Lands
- Lee Tassaker – Vocals & Bass
- Megan Tassaker – Vocals & Keyboards
- Vanessa Black – Vocals & Violin
- Stephen Mikulic – Guitars
- Giovanni Gariano – Guitars
- Andrew Craig – Drums
Label : Rock’n Growl Records
Review by Disgraced & Luisa Mercier
From Croatia with sadness. Ashes You Leave, the historical doom-gothic metal band that started already in 1995, are back with their sixth studio album and a new, hoping solid line-up. Well, I’ll immediately say that I’m a long, long time fan of them so many of my judgements might be shadowed by my own liking of the music but two big faults, according to my humble opinion, are present as well and be sure I’ll point them out nonetheless. Kicking off with a piece of news most readers of this webzine will be interested in, this is the first record with new female singer Giada (also her first professional record ever), who marks the third woman in a three-records period in the AYL camp and their fourth singer generally speaking. Leaving apart first doomstress Dunja, who marked the mydyingbride-ish sound of their first three albums, and without being rude to Giada‘s two predecessors (one of whom was an incredibly talented keyboardist as well), it’s pretty clear since the opener “Devil in Disguise” that she’s the best choice for this band, with a quite distinctive voice which I’ll be about again later.
As I just said, “The Cure for Happiness” starts with “Devil in Disguise” which quickly shows you the best the Croatian have to offer; one might say that this album is a bit like “Songs of the Lost” #2, since with their previous album they had abandoned most of the symphonic temptations presented on “Fire” and on the opposite embraced again a slower, more melancholic kind of metal which certainly suits them better. But beware, there are very, very few “nu goth metal” elements here, no Delain or Lacuna Coil-like so to say. A generous solo in the opener track, and the overall heaviness are good examples of that – examples which shold be taken and learnt by many. Of course one of the trademarks of this band, aka miss Batinic‘s soaring violin melodies are always there but they aren’t part of the real own structure of the songs as they did in the past (the firtst three albums reworked the lesson of My Dying Bride‘s “The Angel and the Dark River” in a quite personal and successful way) although since being Marta together with guitarist/growler Berislav the only two founder members remained - a couple in music and in real life, for gossip’s sake – the feeling of a classic sound will be perceived by any old fan, thanks to that subtle red line that separates AYL from most bands in the same genre. Guitarist Berislav Poje, as already mentioned, is also responsible for the male harsh vocals audible hear and there in the most traditional duets à la Theatre of Tragedy with Giada; this marks another big and good return, since it was many years we didn’t hear so much manhood in AYL vocals. His growls are deep and powerful, very much death metal alike and very fitting. Second track “Only” Ashes You Leave starts with a beautiful violin-paced movement and seems to be a little less uptempo than the opener; perhaps if Placebo ever decided to play metal they’d deliver something like this – with Molko’s already rather feminine vocals it wouldn’t be that hard and let’s remember AYL themselves did an incredible rendition of “Every Me Every You” on their previous album. Particularly notable in this song are the guitar riffs again and the groove toward the end of the song born also thanks to the work of the other new bandmember, drummer Sasa Vukosav, who really did a great work with the sticks, and Luka Petrovic‘s bass skills.
Third track “For the Heart, Soul and Mind” has been released as an online promo single few days ago. Probably that’s because it’s a faster song with a catchy chorus; strophes are actually the best part in my opinion, with an almost stoner flavour in them and Giada‘s voice getting a bit acid. In the chorus instead she lets herself be driven by a semi-opera style which comes again in the final vocalizing. Well, this is a point worth of discussion because I think she has a wonderful, warm, natural low voice which makes some tracks simply shine. A bit reminiscent of both Flowing Tears vocalists, past and current, just to give you an idea: they are not the same but that is the what we’re speaking about. I think it would be a pity if such a particular singer were influenced by the actual trend in melodic metal and pushed herself to go higher and higher with octaves or to sing operatic-like (although this would help her delivering the “Fire” material) because there are already so many bands with women singing that way while Giada here seems to be quite good at handling lower and more powerful vocals… and there are many examples in the actual “new wave of doom heavy metal with p***y on vocals”, just think of Jex Thoth! Add that Etro shares also the same hair colour with Thoth and les jeux sont faits. Back to our review, what we have next is “The Ever-Changing”, a track more difficult to get which proves what the guys are able to do when they let their doom roots grow free in the musical ground. If Giada didn’t sing that operatic (she did it perfectly but it’s the same as above; think of Mariangela Demurtas singing old Tristania songs, she does it wonderfully but what is unmatchable is her contralto voice, making her resemble a Grace Slick in a metal band) this would be a real 10/10 track! Heavy, melancholic, f**koff guitars, also a bit of evil floating in the background and you have something Draconian would die to write.
Fifth song is “Meant to Stray”, which I admit is a song I still have to fully understand, even after dozens of listenings. It’s an average midtempo song which simply doesn’t impress me like the others, with a certain mainstream rock vibe in it. Following is one of the highlights of the album, smartly chosen as first promo single already back last April. “Summers End”, as I commented on YouTube me myself, is an instant classic, without any doubts one of the best songs the band ever created and I would like to speak face to face to both older and newer fans saying it’s a bad piece. It’s one of those rare songs that immediately grow on you AND even after you listen to it so many times like I did, it’s always like the first time. A soft arpeggio introduces Giada who delivers her most passionate interpretation, so full of emotion, in one of the most beautiful vocal lines of the whole album. Lyrics are so meaningful, yet simple and straight, proving that you don’t need complicated metaphors to let your inner feelings out: after all, anything you feel is plain and direct inside your heart and mind (and soul, according to track number three!) so why should it become complex and twisted when you give it to the world?
Is this human nature
Are we designed this way
To be unhappy, so uncertain
To live in fear every day
Yet in the affairs of the heart we dwell naïve
So childishly gullible and willing to forgive
And when we’re left with nothing but the choking pain
We hope it will be washed away by the autumn rain
Aiming something straight like in this case does not take the magic of the music off, on the contrary it helps you to drown even more in the cloth weaven by the notes. In the middle of the song, before male vocals have their say, we have another beautiful, short guitar solo that comes to life again later on. Also the violin allows to build the whole atmosphere and the initial arpeggio ends the song nicely – one of AYL‘s flaws is that the end of the songs too often stops sort of abruptly. So we arrive to the seventh track “Reality Sad”, a good and heavy stone thrown at you without mercy. Berislav, Matija, Luka and Sasa produced other grinding moments that live will truly smash crowds. Oddly enough, first listenings to this track brought some similarities with Salt Lake City-based band Subrosa to my ears. I should have said “oddly to the maximum”, because Subrosa are one of those bands you just cannot describe without sounding too devoted to be objective or anyway, without failing in giving a rightful impression. If you who are reading this love doom metal, both ol’ school one and modern styles, if you like stoner/sludge, The Sins of Thy Beloved, ’80s darkwave, heavy guitars dissstorted, avantgardness and pure magic in the end, go check them out. Well, fact is that we have doom in both bands, we have violin in both bands, and female vocals too, and above all, the reason why I thought of the comparison, a similarity in the way guitars and vocals speak to each other, the emission of vocals and the sharpness of the axes, maybe it’s just me I get this because of the production but hey, that’s the impression I had. “The Cure” does not have anything to do with the new wave band but is a beautiful violin interlude; too bad it’s so short because it would’ve been quite original to have it as a full song – and please note that I usually don’t like instrumentals. Final track is “…For Happiness” which sadly sounds too anonymous than the rest of the album, definitely not a highlight for me. It isn’t a bad song, it also has a good crescendo but as we use to say here in Italy, it’s “not meat nor fish”. Personally I would have chosen some other ending, maybe with more impact but I’m glad they didn’t make any suite or whatsoever because for me it’s the same speech as for instrumentals. But hell! We don’t have pompous, orchestral metal here luckily! Even though it would be interesting to see a band this kind having their hands into a long, long track that is actually a suite and not a common deathdoomgothic metal llllooong, slllooowww song.
Now, I have already mentioned some major flaws here and there when I met them but now it’s time to face the two biggest ones which motivated me to lower my final mark even despite all the love I have for this band (so you see, in the end I succeeded in being impartial!). First one: this is not a doom metal album as the label or the band promoted it and Ashes You Leave are not a tout court doom metal band since ten years. I don’t know whose fault is this but if you actually look at promo stuff or statements and you don’t know the band you’ll easily expect something totally different, like Shape of Despair or Funeral, or even like early Theatre of Tragedy which is without any more words different from what it is and from what the band is nowadays. However, I must also say, especially for newbies, that doom metal is NOT necessarily slowed down to death and does NOT necessarily have to feature all those elements metalheads usually like about the aforementioned bands. Black Sabbath and Pentagram don’t use growl vocals, don’t have female fairies chanting ethereally, don’t have soaring keyboards or orchestral effects and don’t have lyrics that deal with shakespearean love. It’s a fact that too many young guys think that doom metal is restricted to My Dying Bride or early Anathema and that doom-gothic metal is restricted to Draconian or early Theatre of Tragedy which is completely false. But that is not the full point here; “The Cure for Happiness” depicts usual elements of doom metal, both old and new, but it’s simply not SO doom as one might think. It’s a different kind of sadness hehe. They’re too fast for those who have Unholy‘s and Thergothon‘s logos tattoed on their arms and too slow and heavy for most “femalefrontedmetal” (=mellowmainstreamstuff) fans. So if you like or want to explore the middle path or enjoy milestones like Theatre of Tragedy‘s “Aegis” or “Forever Is the World” or Tristania‘s “Rubicon” or “Ashes” this album is definitely worth your attention, otherwise you might be disappointed. Second big flow is, for the one who speaks, a mistake they’re doing since 2002′s “Fire” album. The production. Everything here is crystalline, polished, well done. Fact is that it’s TOO crystalline and polished. It lacks a kind of ravishness which would go along so greatly with the guitar-laden melodies (one of the best points here, don’t worry: no keys to build the songs, as it’s supposed to be in metal): actually guitars are so sharp and heavy that it’s a big pity they don’t have so much impact. I say that this was to be detected also on the two previous albums because on the slower first three ones it fitted more, it added to the decadence of the atmosphere, hopelessness and desolation matched by the sound itself. But here it just seems like attacking an army of soldiers with guns and rifles riding a horse and throwing arrows. Moreover, I think vocals are often pushed in front too much and to me (personally) it gives the impression they are not well blended together with the other instruments. Like having your singers doing their job in the kitchen with the rest of the band playing in the living room! So mostly because of this I gave this album the mark you see hereunder but I hope the review says way more than a single number. Plus, it wants to be a kick in the ass for the band to be pushed to do even better next time, so it’s because I trust them a lot that I want to force them to improve again more and more, even after all these years.
Rating – 79/100
Ashes You Leave is the most famous Croatian female fronted gothic metal band, founded back in 1995 whent the genre was flourishing thanks to legends like Theatre of Tragedy and Tristania. Their earlier releases are very doom oriented, paying tribute to their main source of inspiration: UK doom band My Dying Bride.With time they developed their sound, mixing it with more atmospheric elements and entering the realm of gothic-doom. In the meanwhile they changed three vocalists and at present an Italian girl fronts the band: Giada Etro.This is their sixth album and compared to the previous one is more guitar oriented even though guitars and violin have not been forgotten as the opener “Devil in Disguise” shows.The song is long, but the vocals are very melodic and make everything more bearable, she has got the classic pop voice and makes everything brighter. Even riffs are more melodic compared to what I have listened of their early releases.First three tracks follow the same formula: long gothic melodic songs with atmospheric inserts of keyboards and violins and growls that appear here and there to contrast Giada angelic voice. In the “The Ever Changing”, the song leans more on the doom side with flute and violins, while Giada shows that she can be versatile, using her voice in a darker, semi-operatic way.There is a beautiful atmospheric bridge with violin in the second half of the song. “Meant to Stray” is maybe one of the heaviest on the album due to great presence of growl and guitar riffs matched by violin in background. “Summers End” is more rock oriented than metal, while “Reality Sad” is a shorther song that does not offer much more if compared to the previous songs. “The Cure” is an acoustic break of a minute and a half that will leave you relived after all that metal. Closing track is “For Happiness”, classic gothic metal, very guitar oriented. The album is perfect if you are a classic gothic-doom metal lover, if you are nostalgic of the early sound of this kind of music.
Rating – 65/100
- Devil in Disguise
- Only Ashes You Leave
- For The Heart, Soul and Mind
- The Ever Changing
- Meant to Stray
- Summers End
- Reality Sad
- The Cure
- For Happiness
- Giada Etro – Vocals
- Berislav “Bero” Poje – Guitars & Vocals
- Matija Rempešić – Guitars
- Ana Torić – Keyboards & Flute
- Marta Batinic – Violin
- Luka Petrovic – Bass & Vocals
- Saša Vukosav – Drums
Interview by Ed MacLaren
From her groundbreaking contributions to the seminal goth metal band Theatre of Tragedy to even bigger success fronting the eponymously named Leaves’ Eyes, Liv Kristine is one of a few women who have truly earned the status of femme metal icon. With the release of her third solo album, “Skintight”, Liv continues to offer fans a new and diverse musical perspective along with her unique vocal skills. Femme Metal had the privilege to speak with Liv about her creative process, the secrets to her longevity, and her dreams for the future. Congratulations on the release of “Skintight”! It’s another fantastic showcase of your creative talents. Listening to a new Liv Kristine solo album is always an interesting pleasure. What you hear is always unexpected but at the same time it’s totally you.
Thank you so much! This album is me, straight from the heart, just very down-to-earth, natural and personal. It really deserves the title “Skintight”.
Your solo efforts don’t come along that often – although in your defense you’re a pretty busy woman. What happens that points you down the solo path? Does the mood just overtake you and you have no choice but to focus your creative energies in that direction?
My solo work and Leaves’ Eyes have the same status for me, however, I’ve needed more time in between the releases of my solo albums than when it comes to Leaves’ Eyes releases. There is no explanation for this “rhythm”, though. My first solo album “Deus ex Machina” was released eleven years ago, the second one “Enter My Religion” in 2006/2007. However, “Skintight” is my most personal album so far and the one I appreciate the most. I need my solo albums next to Leaves’ Eyes. I never plan an album, the songs, or the percentage of slow and fast songs. I just compose it and record it and then when it’s released, the audience decides what to think of it. I hate trends and forced ideas. I’m glad my record label trusts me and lets me do my own thing and follow my own instincts. “Deus ex Machina” is probably the one album that had the most influence from the label, external producers etc. and it mirrors a very young “myself”. I hate the picture on the cover, though! Something went wrong when printing the booklet, I guess. “Enter My Religion” is the album that celebrates the freedom I felt after winning my artistic freedom back after a terrible time spent in court. And I was happy becoming a mother! With “Skintight”, I have taken a big step and gained more independence and self-confidence. It feels really good to release this album, and I am really looking forward to my next one!
What was your goal when recording “Skintight”? Did you accomplish what you set out to do?
I was aiming at one thing: making an album that’s ME – just listening to my inner voice. Concerning the song-writing process for the album, I never really “plan” a production. Most ideas just appear unexpectedly, like for instance when I wake up early in the morning at 6.a.m., or perhaps they come along with a glass of red wine when all is quiet in the house. I always carry a little book for notes with me, just in case. The next thing is to call Thorsten and meet up in the studio, which is, luckily, close to where we are living.
The lyrics on “Skintight” are very personal reflections for you as are your lyrics for Leaves’ Eyes. Do you have a different mindset when you’re writing for one or the other or does it all come from the same place?
My solo work is where I put all my childhood memories, my experiences being a young woman, ideas about love, marriage, memories from travelling, and becoming a mum. Leaves’ Eyes has a special concept to every album and I sing in up to seven languages. All lyrics on “Skintight” were written in English. I guess it’s just a matter of feeling comfortable in my own artistic “expression” both lyrically and musically.
“Skintight” is a Liv Kristine solo album but you’re working mainly with Thorsten Bauer and your husband Alexander Krull from Leaves’ Eyes. For a solo effort, why did you decide to keep your collaborations within the “family”?
As I already mentioned, I only want to be independent being an artist, so I would chose any label that would let me do whatever I want, in my own studio, with the musicians I choose to work with myself. I don’t care so much about what the trend is like; I’d rather listen to my inner voice and pay attention to my artistic development and my own goals.
Did the writing and recording experience evolve differently than working with Alexander and Thorsten on “Skintight” than on a Leaves’ Eyes project?
The composing period and recording period of “Skintight” was much, much shorter than any Leaves’ Eyes production. The complete production of “Skintight” was stripped down to a few instruments to make the album warm, focused and intimate. That was my thought from the very beginning.
Was it still essentially a mutually collaborative effort or did you ever have to put your foot down and say, “This is my album and we’re doing it this way !”?
This time we did it MY way! I am so grateful that Thorsten, Alexander and my label supports me doing this – achieving my goal!
Does releasing a solo album give you an opportunity to indulge your diverse musical influences in the context of your own music? “The Rarest Flower” has a wonderful Tori Amos flow to it.
Thank you, that’s a really nice compliment! I have a varied taste in music: Coldplay and One Republic in the car, Black Sabbath at every party, Tori Amos when relaxing, Edvard Grieg when cleaning, Amorphis when typing interviews and Madonna when cooking! Tori Amos inspired me to record in the way we did. I think she’s a genius!
“Skintight” gives you an opportunity to make use of your full vocal range in a more “natural” sounding environment. As a singer, was it a specific goal to experiment with your voice on this album and try some things that just didn’t “fit” Leaves’ Eyes?
First of all, Thorsten (co-song writer), Alexander (husband and producer) and myself, rebuilt one of the recording rooms so the engineer and the one being recorded are in the same room. The room also has a fantastic view out on the southwestern forests and wine yards! Both music and voice were recorded in a “one-take” procedure to keep the songs real and natural, like Tori Amos, because we wanted to intensify the emotional flow in a natural way. I hate recording little bits and pieces and making pauses between verses and choruses. I would like my friends and fansto hear that this is me. I really don’t need to polish my vocals, nor my identity.
You’re releasing “Skintight” at the same time as the special edition of “Njord” and on the eve of a Leaves’ Eyes tour of the United States. What was the rationale of releasing the solo album now instead of waiting until next year and back it with a solo tour?
I was just eager to have it released as “Skintight” was completed in January 2010. I just couldn’t wait! “Skintight” along with “Enter My Religion” and “Deus ex Machina” gives you three full albums of solo material.
Do you think that you’ve established a unique identity for yourself as a solo artist separate from being the lead singer or Leaves’ Eyes or Theatre of Tragedy?
If I take a look at the progress between all my albums, I feel good about it. Album by album I’ve become more independent and gained more self-confidence. After “Deus ex Machina”, which ended in a terrible court case, I have learned to speak out when I feel that something is not all right, fair, or my taste. “Enter My Religion” was a very important step towards freedom for me after a very tough and exhausting period, the ups and downs with Theatre of Tragedy and endless touring. I have been around for 17 years now and I can thank my friends, fans and family for that!
It’s also been 15 years since the release of Theatre of Tragedy‘s self-titled debut “A Distance There Is” still gives me chills every time I listen to it. An amazing vocal performance! Do you ever reflect on the progression and evolution of the musical genre you helped define? Did you have any idea it would explode the way it did?
That’s really a wonderful compliment, thank you from the bottom of my heart. No, we would never guess back in 1995 that we would be the trigger and founding band of such an explosion in metal – creating a new metal genre. At first, we were really screamed at by music journalists for mixing extreme contrasts of beauty and the beast in metal, however, the metal fans voted for us to become the band of the year, best new comer a.s.o. world wide. Then the explosion came! Some time ago, I met Tuomas from Nightwish. He really made me blush, he said, “There would have been no Nightwish without you”. That went straight into my heart!
You’re considered one of the definitive voices of the metal genre – gothic or otherwise – often imitated but never duplicated. Your musical contributions helped open doors for many women to express themselves musically in a genre then dominated by men. Did you think, at that time, that women would ever become such a fixture on the metal scene?
I had no idea! I am so glad that my members of Theatre of Tragedy back then let me step out of the background-singer position and into the front-vocal position! I guess that was the important step to take.
With more and more female-fronted metal bands appearing all over the globe, is there any advice you could offer any young woman wanting to strap on a corset and jump onstage?
Speak out for yourselves and listen to your inner voice! Do not pay so much attention to the money and the fame, because it can hurt you really bad! Be yourself! Be creative, always develop! And stay healthy.
You were still a teenager when you started performing professionally and even now you are still able to keep your music relevant with a fresh perspective and point of view. How do you do it?
I’ve always had a great passion for music and art in general. I was born with a very creative mind and a voice that can do multiple things. Moreover, I take good care of myself, stay in shape, and have a very healthy living style. I’m 34 now and just won a 10 km run in south-west Germany and my winning time was the best I ever achieved. That’s nice! Being a mother also gives me so much power in my daily life. Having my own wonderful family is the greatest luck on earth! I consider myself a very lucky person: I’m able to combine family and music! I never earned the big money, however if I ever do, I have huge plans. My ultimate goal with my solo work is to sell “millions” of albums so I can start my own foundation, helping children in need worldwide. Moreover, I’m dreaming about starting a bilingual/trilingual music kindergarten for kids with special needs and abilities, children that have a “handicap” somehow and do not fit into the typical, official kindergarten concept. Music can help these children in a social, psychological and physical way and they have so many “hidden” abilities that we need to discover and trigger! This is only possible in such suitable, loving and stable surroundings like a “special” kindergarten or school. This is my dream for the future.
You’ve had an incredibly diverse and prolific career. Are there any songs from any stage in your career that hold a special place in your heart? What makes them so special?
“A Distance There Is” (ToT), “For Emily” (Leaves’ Eyes), “Irish Rain” (Leaves’ Eyes), “Blue Emptiness” (Liv K.), “Twofold” (Liv K.) and “The Rarest Flower” (Liv K.). They’re special because they’re all linked to happenings in my life and they make me cry every now and then. It’s like holding up a mirror to my own emotions.
What next for you after the Leaves’ Eyes US tour? Will you try to do some “Skintight” promotion in the new year?
My next tour will probably be an acoustic tour, some shows in December and the rest next February or March, in intimate locations, with chairs, candles… Let’s call it “A Night with Liv Kristine”. I will bring three musicians and play songs from my solo albums, some acoustic Leaves’ Eyes pearls and maybe “A Distance There Is”. Vocals, guitars, piano and percussion.
(Famous) Last words?
“My greatest luck is to give some happiness and love to others”. This is what my mother always told me and she is so right! Through my art, I am able to do this and my fans and friends have made my dream come true. I have the best fans in the world! Thank you!
Photos by Stefan Heilemann
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