Leaves’ Eyes have been a band in transition since the release of their last album ‘King of Kings’. In September of 2015, the band lost long-time vocalist Liv Kristine, and replaced her with Elina Siirala. Both parties have different versions of how, when and why Liv Left the band, and it’s even reached a stage where there will be legal proceedings between them. The ‘Fires in the North’ EP gives fans the first chance to hear Elina outside of live performances. The EP contains one new track – “Fires in the North” – an acoustic version of the same, and four songs taken from ‘King of Kings’ that have been covered with Elina’s vocals.
A brief, somewhat tribal, opening starts off “Fires in the North” before Elina Siirala comes in. The vocals in the verse sound good, but personally, I think her talent only shines in the chorus, where she shows off her full range. Alexander Krull’s death metal-sounding backing vocals mix well with Elina’s throughout the song, though it does suffer at times from sounding like most other symphonic metal songs. As the only original song on this EP, it’s not a bad offering from the band, allows their fans to hear the new vocalist. With regards to the acoustic version of “Fires in the North” – I have to admit, I think I like this version more than the normal one. Everything in this version of the song just sounds better overall, but the vocals in particular stand out on this track and lets the listener experience Elina’s full range.
The next three songs are all taken from the last album ‘King of Kings’, with Elina covering Liv Kristine’s original vocals. It seems like the band are attempting to whitewash Liv from their recent history, which seems to be a bit of a slap in the face to Liv, after all that she gave to the band over 13 years.
The songs are good enough, although I feel the bands’ need to cover these tracks is a little lazy. They have found a very good singer in Elina, and they should show what she can do by writing songs that fit her vocals; not having her cover Liv’s earlier hits. Covering older songs will inevitably have people drawing comparisons between Elina and Liv, which is not fair to either party. There are many fans wishing Liv was still with Leaves’ Eyes, and reminding them of the ‘good old days’ so to speak, won’t do them any favours.
Elina has a more operatic style to her vocal work, which in my opinion outshines Liv on “Sacred Vows” and “Swords in Rock”. Apart from the sole new track and the re-do of the vocals, the band’s work in this EP is identical to the originals. I got the feeling, having listened to both versions of these tracks, that the band seems more in tune and in sync with each other with Elina as their frontwoman. The EP does what it’s meant to do – showcase Elina Siirala as their new lead singer – but more than one new track might have been a bit more flattering than a rehash of their final Liv Kristine hits.
This offering from Leaves’ Eyes is acceptable from a band still finding its feet again. I was hoping for more than just one new song; however, the EP does what it set out to do, and that is to introduce Elina Siirala to their fans and give them a taste of what is to come in the future. For diehard fans of the band, I think they would not enjoy this EP as much as someone discovering the band for the first time. So, I would sum up this EP as underwhelming.