Personnel: Alexander Krull (vocals, programming, sampler); Liv Kristine (vocals); Thorsten Bauer (guitar); Seven Antonopoulos (drums, percussion).
Audio Mixer: Alexander Krull.
Leaves' Eyes (basically, the German band Atrocity plus former Theatre of Tragedy vocalist Liv Kristine) took four years between their second album,Vinland Saga, and this one. In between, they've released two EPs with almost a full album's worth of B-sides between them, and a live disc, but still, the pressure must have been on to come up with a major statement, and they've done so. Njord is a sweeping, epic album that exemplifies the band's Gothic/Viking metal sound, with the clean, clear vocals of Liv Kristine contrasted against the guttural death growls of her husband, Atrocity founder Alexander Krull, atop a combination of crunching guitar riffs, mechanistic drums, melodic keyboards, and the occasional folk instrument or wash of strings. The sound of waves lapping the Northern European coastline takes several songs in and out. There's only one real misstep here, which is the power ballad treatment of the folk song "Scarborough Fair." Otherwise, Njord is guaranteed to please fans of bands like Lacuna Coil, Eyes of Eden, Nightwish, et al. There aren't many super-aggressive songs here; Cannibal Corpse fans should stay away. But there's a real operatic flair to tracks like "The Holy Bond" and "Ragnarok" that marks Leaves' Eyes as a major band within their chosen subgenre, and the eight-minute album closer, "Froya's Theme," is a genuine epic, possibly their greatest achievement to date. ~ Phil Freeman