EP Review – Black Butterfly by Leaves’ Eyes (AFM Records)

German symphonic metallers, Leaves’ Eyes return with the brand new epic EP Black Butterfly, released on the 6th of December via AFM Records.

The Viking kings of Symphonic metal provide a very special release for Christmas time and the start of the European tour in November! With three new tracks, led by the title track Black Butterfly, we also get a Christmas present in the form of the cover of Stille Nacht (German version of Silent Night).

Leaves’ Eyes formed back in 2003 by Liv Christine though circumstances arose that saw her leave the band behind in 2016, apparently not by her own decision. She has been replaced by Elina Siirala. Leaves’ Eyes have released one album since Liv Christine’s departure. That album is called Signs of the Dragonhead and you can read our thoughts on it here. That was back in 2018, leading us now into one of the last releases of 2019, Black Butterfly.

Black Butterfly - Leaves' Eyes

Alongside Elina, Leaves’ Eyes are original members Alexander Krull on keys and backing vocals and Thorsten Bauer on guitars, and more recently on bass. Joining in 2013, on drums it’s Joris Nijenhuis and only joining this year, on guitars we have Micki Richter.

Black Butterfly starts off with the title track, a 4 and a half minute long track. Typical of Leaves’ Eyes style it has a gentle folky start before jumping in a  little to a nice, bouncy symphonic beat. It fades into clean, gentle singing for the verses with a nice prominent drum beat and plenty of symphonic atmospherics. The chorus is nice with Elina stretching her vocals into a more operatic style and a little backing growls. It is all quite nice, quite melancholy. Music to chill too, maybe wave a lighter around too I guess. It lacks a little energy for me though. There are some nice lead guitar lines nearing the end but mostly it all feels a little subdued. Well structured, well played and well sung but lacking a little oomph.

Serkland is up next and is really good. I love the intro – it’s so catchy. The vocals in the gentle verses are sung beautifully of course but it is the reintroduction of the catchy melody mixed with dual vocals, clean and harsh that really sells the song to me. I love the crunch of the heavy sections that follow each chorus and there is a brilliant folk passage that repeats the same catchy melody before kicking back into the chorus at the end. This is a banger!

The 3rd song on Black Butterfly is called Night of the Ravens. It has a very operatic start with booming instruments and powerful vocals. It has a bit more of a chilled out vibe than Serkland but really gets stuck in your head. The main guitar sections are huge and emphatic and I love how carefully pieced together the song sounds. Guitars, drums and bass coming in and out in harmony with symphonic keys and vocals A strong example of many moving parts working in perfect unison. Chuck in a cracking solo that leads into a gentle building operatic/symphonic section and you get another very impressive song.

We end on the Christmas cover, Stille Nacht. It is the traditional German version so the vocals are all sung in German, of course. Elina sings gently over a piano melody is pretty much what it amounts to. There is a little vocal harmonising but otherwise it is a little disappointing, purely because I was hoping for a Leaves’ Eyes, symphonic and rocked up version of the track. Instead it is just a straight up, well sung but otherwise boring, exact cover with no drums or guitars or anything else.

Overall I guess it si a bit of a mixed bag. Leaves’ Eyes are a bit hit and miss for my personal tastes anyway. I tend to get a little bored through their more chilled out songs and a little excited through their more energetic ones though I can definitely appreciate their talent and their music. Genuinely though, I love how carefully pieced together it always sounds with lots going on but everything having it’s place. I just often find myself waiting for something to kick in to really bring me on board.

Getting hooked in wasn’t something I felt with Black Butterfly. I did with Serkland and Night of the Raven. Ultimately I enjoyed the EP as a whole, but it is one for fans  I think. If you weren’t sold on them completely before, this isn’t going to change your mind.

Black Butterfly is out now on all the usual streaming services. You can also grab yourself a copy from here.

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Black Butterfly by Leaves' Eyes (AFM Records)
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