Liv Kristine – Vervain (Napalm)

Thursday, 16th October 2014
Rating: 8.5/10

Being a fan of Liv Kristine’s vocals since catching Leaves Eyes live back in 2005, following up her solo work has been interesting over the years. Occasionally a stark contrast to what goes on with Leaves Eyes, some of the material of the past few solo albums have gone in a more poppy direction. If those weren’t your thing, you’ll be pleasantly surprised by Vervain.

Vervain does its best to focus on Kristine’s vocals (as a solo album should) in the context of a darker and more “metal-friendly” environment. It’s a palpable mix of darker rock/pop, gothic, and some hints of doomier material that should seem a least a little familiar to fans of her voice in various projects. Likewise, there’s a bit of diversity throughout the album as well, going from ballads to more gothic numbers to more forward works of pop/rock. Driving tracks like “Hunters,” the title track, and “Elucidation” are sure to get your toes tapping, while the sorrowful ballad “Lotus” provides a more mellow moment halfway through the album and is a fine showcase for Kristine’s powerful, operatic vocals. The gothic tones of “Two and a Heart” and “Creeper” give the album a darker vibe while retaining the necessary melody and are sure to appeal to Leaves Eyes fans.

It’s worth mentioning the two guest spots on the album, which features Michelle Darkness (of the perpetually underrated End of Green) on “Love Decay” and the legendary Doro Pesch on “Stronghold of Angels.” Doro gives “Stronghold” a decidedly more metal feel and the two have an excellent back-and-forth between their vocals that is a real treat. However, it’s overshadowed by the album’s best track, “Love Decay.” The gothic feel of this song and the interplay between Michelle Darkness and Liv is masterful. It’s a catchy track to begin with, but the two voices here really skyrocket this song to the top of the pack.

In a fall season full of spectacular metal releases, the fact that Vervain continues to be a constant spinner speaks to its quality. After last year’s standout Leaves Eyes offering, Liv Kristine is certainly riding a creative high that has spilled over to Vervain and is sure to ensnare any fan of her previous works.

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