ALBUM REVIEW: Leaves’ Eyes – The Last Viking (Midsummer Edition)

Last year famed symphonic metal band LEAVES’ EYES, released their 10th album, The Last Viking. The Last Viking is a monumental album which demonstrates the band’s strong songwriting and storytelling abilities.

The Last Viking’s story begins in the year 1066, on a battlefield near Stamford Bridge, where Norway’s King Harald III has just seen defeat and is dying on the ground. As he lies there in his last moments, King Harald’s life flashes before his eyes. The Last Viking attempts to tell the tale of Hardrada (the hard ruler’s) life of cruel wars, exotic travels, and beautiful women.

The Last Viking is a phenomenal album on its own but this year, LEAVES’ EYES have gone one step further and released The Last Viking (Midsummer Edition). This 3CD edition of the album features the songs on the first edition of the album, instrumental versions of the songs, and the soundtrack to a 90 minute documentary, Viking Spirit, which celebrates modern day Vikings.

All 14-tracks released on the first edition of The Last Viking still hold up a year later. With Celtic flair, beautiful operatic style vocals from Elina Siirala and energetic compositions, it’s easy to get lost in the story of Norway’s King Harald III.

CD3 offers a series of original instrumental songs that focus on the orchestral side of LEAVES’ EYES. Await Orre’s Storm serves as the soundtrack’s introduction. Dramatic, atmospheric, and eerily beautiful, it’s a good taste of what’s to come next. The Golden Secret is one of the stronger instrumentals on the soundtrack, as it leverages medieval instruments and dreamy, otherworldly vocals which conjure images of Viking boats and Nordic Fiords.

Into The Depths of Hell sounds like a classic LEAVES’ EYES only without the vocals, making it the perfect accompaniment for a documentary which celebrates the life of modern Vikings. Elsewhere, the instrumental version of Chain Of The Golden Horn sounds like the ultimate Viking anthem and fans of the lifestyle will relish in the anthemic guitars and background choir.

Blazing Waters is another song that’s got a remix on The Last Viking (Midsummer Edition). The song originally featured on King Of Kings, the last LEAVES’ EYES album but now has been updated to feature vocals from Elina Siirala. Blazing Waters is another classic LEAVES’ EYES song that’s filled with majestic rhythm and medieval instruments which are so immersive that they take you back to the times of Vikings.

Fundamentally, unlike other special editions you see on the market, The Last Viking (Midsummer Edition) offers fans a brand-new experience that completely enhances the tracks on the album’s first edition. Many of the original composition feature melodies from tracks on those records only they have been remixed. Fans will also appreciate Blazing Waters, a straight-forward LEAVES’ EYES track that is the epic finale to the documentary’s soundtrack.

If, however, you’re not into instrumental tracks, you may just want to stick to the first edition of The Last Viking. Songs like Black Butterfly which features vocals from VISIONS OF ATLANTIS singer Clementine Delauney make it worth a listen.

Whether you decide to listen to the soundtrack in its entirety, its worth watching the Viking Spirit documentary. If you have 90 minutes to spare, and love the Viking lifestyle, you’ll learn a lot about the mythology that is present in The Last Viking as well as how modern-day Vikings continue celebrating old traditions.

Rating: 8/10

Words: Megan Taylor

The Last Viking (Midsummer Edition) will be released 17th September 2021 via AFM Records.

Find LEAVES’ EYES on Facebook and Twitter.

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