Thursday, 6 November 2014

Review: Liv Kristine - Vervain

As well as being one of the finest, Liv Kristine is certainly one of the busiest women in metal too. On top of her work with Leaves' Eyes and supergroup The Sirens, she's somehow managed to find the time to finish her latest solo album Vervain. As one of the first soprano voices in metal, with Theatre of Tragedy she pioneered the beauty and the beast technique which has since influenced countless Gothic metal bands.

The album sees a return in the direction of her early days of Gothic doom, though it's much more pop orientated. Her vocal style has changed considerably over the years from the softer-than-velvet voice heard on the first Theatre of Tragedy albums to something much more refined.

The opening track 'My Wilderness' sounds like Kate Bush meets Gothic metal at times, owing to the Bush-esque vocal motifs here and there. Second track 'Love Decay' is a classic heavy goth-pop ballad, with chugging guitars and dark atmospheric keyboards in the background. Deep vocals from Michelle Darkness (End of Green) provide the perfect backing for Liv's soaring soprano voice. Title track 'Vervain' continues in the same vein, and really shows off the dynamics of her voice.

'Stronghold Of Angels' features Doro and opens with some powerful doom chords. As the track continues it gets deeper, with clean guitars echoing sorrow in the style of the first two Theatre of Tragedy albums. The contrast between the two voices works really well, Doro adds a hard edge to the darkness while Liv glides over it creating something really powerful. 'Hunters' is one of the highlights of the album, with clean autumnal guitar melodies that resonate like echoes of the dead calling from the other side. 'Lotus' takes the form of a slower piano ballad, dark and beautiful with emotive violins. As it progresses it gradually gets more powerful, building up before dropping into wailing guitars.

As a whole the album works extremely well, combining the best elements from throughout Liv Kristine's career. The music is deep, doom-laden and atmospheric yet it retains pop sensibilities. With Vervain, Liv Kristine has created a classic Gothic metal album. It's dark, emotional and haunting – everything that the genre should be, but hasn't been in recent years. It's certainly one of the best Gothic metal albums to be released this decade. 9/10