Fame has its benefits. Getting signed immediately after you leave/get fired from your other band is one of those things. Of course, the inevitable problem with fame is that no matter how far away from what you got famous for, you will always be compared to it. And for me, Liv’s voice will live on forever in Theatre of Tragedy‘s classic album Velvet Darkness They Fear. Leaves’ Eyes is not Theatre of Tragedy and Njord is definitely not Velvet Darkness They Fear, and while it doesn’t need to be that album all over again for me to like something she’s done, I know it can be better than this.
Firstly, this record isn’t Theatre of Tragedy, as said, instead it’s Nightwish. While Liv’s voice is, and will always be, infinitely better than Tarja’s voice, the whole style is becoming a pallid replica of itself and is not terribly interesting. The pompous, plodding songs push their way through your speakers and only occasionally catch your ears with something interesting. But honestly, the music feels uninspired most of the time, and sometimes it just truly is flat and boring. The cover of “Scarborough Fair” is a perfect example of this, it takes something well known, puffs it up and turns it into a melodramatic caricature of the tune, all the while conforming to the worst elements of the genre, huge production (courtesy of Sascha Paeth), double bass drums, pulsing keyboards, an unnecessary guitar solo, while never even being close to interesting or heavy.
There are some good moments and melodies on here, and for the gothic metal fan with a thing for female operatics and the whole approach, there are things that I’m sure one will find exciting and interesting. For the most part, as stated earlier, it’s the melodies that catch a listener. The undeniable radio single “My Destiny” has a very catchy chorus and a very sexy hook, marred by a Evanescence-style rappy guy on the chorus. As with “My Destiny,” it is the chorus that stands out in “Take the Devil In Me,” with razor sharp claws sinking into your gray matter and not wanting to let go. And of course, the highlight of this album on the track “Ragnarok” which is actually truly heavy and dramatic, pretty much the only point on this album that felt dangerous. It is these moments that stand out, get stuck in your head and are pretty good. But there certainly aren’t enough of them when you have to compete against filler like “Through Our Veins,” which has no build, no drive and no point.
Liv, of course, is tremendous as always. Her voice is gorgeous and her performance is flawless. But if she had wanted to be in Nightwish, why didn’t she go and join the damn band? She would’ve been a perfect fit, and at least then she would’ve been in the real deal instead of a pale imitation of it.