foto’s: Joost Willemse
The Sirens is een uniek project van drie zangeressen, die de grondslag van hun carrière doen herleven. Een eerbetoon aan de eerste vrouwen die stevige muziek met hoge vocalen combineerden en die er groots mee zijn geworden.Deze zangeressen behoeven geen introductie, wel het ontstaan van The Sirens. Het idee kreeg vorm toen zangeres Anneke van Giersbergen een duet opnam met Kari Rueslåtten voor haar “Drive ” album (2013), al snel maakte Liv Kristine de gelederen compleet na een festival ontmoeting dat zelfde jaar.
Jammer, vooral omdat de kritieken in Europa lovend zijn, al is er een flinke rij na afloop om de artiestes te ontmoeten.
Vanaf de stevige opening “ Vervain” is duidelijk dat de twee uur durende show een “raad de zangeres” factor heeft: er zijn veel wisselingen, verrassende duetten en zelden is een van hen alleen op het podium te vinden. Dat maakt de set dynamisch en geeft precies wat de bezoeker verwacht.
De gitaren en bas zijn verrassend pittig en dat brengt een mooi rockrandje aan. Hier en daar wordt er zelfs meegezongen, maar daar stopt de mannelijke invloed of het moet de drummer zijn die vaak energiek roffelt en extra gelaagdheid aan brengt.
gaat het wat mij betreft bovenal om de samenzang.
De folkinvloeden doen Keltisch aan, met akoestische gitaar en cello.Dit komt overigens niet uit de “The 3rd And The Mortal” periode van Kari, maar recent op “Time To Tell” van dit jaar en waarop ook Tuomas Holopainen (Nightwish) aan meewerkte.
tekst: Frans Neelen
Does this charming lady really needs an introduction ? Not really I guess, but for the beginners here in a nutshell the story of Liv Kristine so far.
In the early nineties she became the singer of Theatre Of Tragedy, one of the founders of Gothic Female fronted Metal and a band who introduced the “Beauty and the Beast” vocal battles.
In the late nineties she developed her own solo career, composing more personal, poppy songs released under her own name. Together with husband Alexander Krull and the other band members Atrocity she is founder of the successful gothic band Leaves’ Eyes in 2003 after leaving Theatre of Tragedy.
“Vervain” or Verbena, is called “Tears of Isis” in ancient Egypt. It is a herb with purple or white flowers with delicate spikes and nearly scentless, also known as one of a vampire’s most well-known weakness. Also associated with “divine” which is in this case a good translation for the fifth album of Liv Kristine.
An album that is, without any doubt, her strongest and most energetic one. On her solo albums Liv Kristine normally shows her light, romantic side with poppy, catchy songs. Previous album “Libertine” (2012) already marks a more rock orientated direction.
“Vervain” presents itself as a dark and doom album with songs that reminds strongly of Theatre of Tragedy. Bass and drums are very heavy and low; giving the album a sinister, melancholic feeling.
Although this album marks a return to Liv Kristine’s roots it still is an album that reaches a wider audience. Gaining a lot of new fans and please the old ones as well. Liv’s beautiful voice and sympathetic personality stand guarantee for that.
Opener “My Wilderness” immediately is a bulls eye; doomy riffs and firm axe work contradict with her catchy and racy voice as many know in most Leaves’ Eyes songs, but above all it sounds fresh and energetic.
In “Creeper” and “Oblivious” those fine dark riffs by guitars and bass are standing out. When Liv’s angelic vocals sets in the timbre immediately changes: providing a contradiction between doom against sweet. One of the strongest impressions on this album.
With “Elucidation” also the more catchy (poppy) and electronic musical period from Theatre Of Tragedy is honored. It’s swings, it rock’s and has that particular dancing beat which was introduced on their debuut album.
On the fragile song “Lotus” Liv’s vocals are breath taking and make you melt like icicles on the roof. “Hunters” is driven by an energetic rock beat and Liv’s haunting vocals make it also a track worth mentioning.
Two vocal guestsappearances are made by Michelle Darkness (End of Green) in the new wave, gothic sounding “Love Decay” and “the female voice of metal rock” Doro Pesh makes her entrance on “Stronghold Of Angels”.
Michelle’s low – down from the cellar – voice makes “Love Decay” sound like a Sisters Of Mercy song and goes along fine with Liv’s clean voice. In the power ballad “Stronghold Of Angels” Doro’s rasping voice merges perfectly with Liv’s angelic one and both deliver a great job. Both duets are cleary something original and reflecting different vocal styles by Liv Kristine.
On this album Liv Kristine presents the best of herself. A mixture of her solo albums, Theatre Of Tragedy roots and Leaves’ Eyes elements cover the load on this excellent album with a variety in songs which share the same intriguing atmosphere of the early Gothic sound.
Doomy, heavy and sinister with enough space for enchanting vocals and fragile poetry. The vocal guest appearances are well chosen and contribute the versatility. Overall it sounds fresh and exciting. Boundaries between Liv Kristine solo and Leaves’ Eyes have faded, so its wise to abstract there are two top acts in the Gothic scene.
Last, but certainly not least, do not forget that Thorsten Bauer is besides Liv the main composer of the music as well as playing most of the instruments. Again Alexander Krull succeed as producer on “Vervain.”As well as co-composing songs. A splendid job by all three of them which results in album fit to conquer the world.
01. My Wilderness
02. Love Decay [featuring Michelle Darkness]
04. Stronghold Of Angels [featuring Doro Pesch]
08. Two And A Heart
In this day and age female fronted metal bands are normal part of everyday life. They are so common, in fact, that it’s a waste of breath making the distinction between them and bands with a hairy, ugly guy behind the microphone.
There was a time, however, when the idea of a woman fronting a full-on metal band was dismissed by metal fans and press alike as absurd.
The world accepted Doro Pesch fronting Warlock, but it wasn’t until the rise of The 3rd And The Mortal, The Gathering and Theatre Of Tragedy in the early ’90s that the movement towards equality in metal truly began.
Now, in celebration of a revolution that launched an entirely new musical genre, vocalists Kari Rueslåtten (The 3rd And The Mortal), Anneke van Giersbergen (The Gathering) and Liv Kristine Espenaes Krull (Leaves’ Eyes, Theatre Of Tragedy) have united for a journey into the past presented live on stage: The Sirens.
The seeds for The Sirens were planted when Anneke approached Kari in early 2013 with the proposal of doing a duet for her Drive album (released in 2013). Regarded by Anneke as an inspiration going in to do The Gathering’s breakthrough album, Mandylion, her intention was to pay tribute to Kari via the collaboration. The song didn’t make the final cut as it didn’t fit the album, but they remained in touch. Then, in July 2013 Anneke and Liv had a chance meeting at the Masters Of Rock festival in the Czech Republic, and The Sirens concept was born.
“We had a few minutes only to talk in between our gigs,” Liv recalls, “but we agreed that we really should get together and tour. We both had to smile then, thinking that we were, with Kari, the ‘originals’ within our scene. Moreover, all three of us being mothers and still highly busy in music and art. Anneke told me that she had just talked to Kari, and that was the ‘go’ for The Sirens”
It would be fair to call Kari the catalyst for The Sirens, as both Anneke and Liv saw her as a role model when they first made their way into music. “I find it hard to believe that I once inspired them,” Kari admits, “but if so it is truly flattering. It is a fantastic feeling to know that I will be singing live with two such amazing vocalists!”
The Sirens tour will be split into two parts, including festival appearances, and staged at the end of 2014 in October and December. It will be a full concert showcasing the trio, one band, and a setlist featuring songs from The 3rd And The Mortal, The Gathering and Theatre Of Tragedy as well as tracks from Kari, Anneke and Liv’s respective solo careers.
They will sing alone, perform duets, capping off the night with all three of them on stage, with a show that is expected to clock in at around 100 minutes each night. Thus, it’s a trip down memory lane produced for the here and now with brand new and unexpected elements, making The Sirens a nostalgia-fuelled reminder of who started it all and why it worked. And at the end of the night nobody will leave disappointed.
“The female fronted scene has become so big all over the world, sometimes it’s hard to believe the three of us were at the very beginning of it,” says Anneke. “I am very proud of that. Without intentionally wanting to start a new genre, our bands made it okay to sound and look as a girl singer on a metal stage. It was all very new and exciting. I think the tour is great to, in a way, celebrate those early days now that a third-wave of bands is appearing on the scene.”
14.10.2014 DE Bonn, Harmonie
15.10.2014 FR Colmar, Le Grillen
16.10.2014 UK London, Proud
18.10.2014 BE Wieze, Metal Female Voices Fest
17.12.2014 NL Zoetermeer, Boerderij
18.12.2014 DE Jena, F-Haus
19.12.2014 DE Nagold, Alte Seminarturnhalle
20.12.2014 FR Paris, Divan Du Monde
More information on: https://www.facebook.com/thesirenspage
text: Gerianne Meijer
photo’s: Alexander Krull & Stefan Heilemann
Liv Kristine Espenæs – Krull as the full name of the singer is, released her fourth solo album ‘Libertine‘ a month ago. It is an album with pop influences and also a return to the roots: an interesting combination. There is a Dutch review on Muzikantenweb for further details.
At that time she was touring in Europe with Leaves’ Eyes her main band. When she arrived home, in one day the email questions were answered. What follows is a short update with the charming Liv Kristine revealing more about her solo record.
Compared to your previous album ‘Skintight’ (Napalm Records 2010), ‘Libertine’ seems to contain more up-tempo rock songs. It seems difficult for you to shake off your ‘loud music’ roots. Do you find yourself always coming back to that style of music for a reason? Or did you just feel like creating some heavier songs?
Liv Kristine: ” To compare “Libertine” with my former releases, ‘Dues ex Machina’ (1998) was very atmospheric and reminding you a bit about Irish Enya, a real pop-album. ‘Enter My Religion’ (2006) was more guitar-based and earthly with many interesting exotic folk influences. ‘Skintight’ (2010) had some influence from Johnny Cash, which sometimes gives the listeners a warm and here-and-now campfire feeling experience.
‘Libertine’ (2012) is a back-to-the-roots album for me, containing the most emotional ballads I’ve ever composed, Some songs even have a dark, but sweet feeling to it. Through both the piano, the dark bass lines and heavy guitars, as you pointed out. I see every album becoming more and more individual, just like I am getting closer to myself in a way. I would say all of my albums are somehow indie, pop or rock.”
I know you have written a lot, if not all, lyrics yourself. How much did you participate in the writing of the music on ‘Libertine’?
Liv Krtine: “ I write all lyrics, for my solo project and Leaves’ Eyes. I just love poetry and linguistics! When composing for Leaves’ Eyes most ideas are recorded instrumentally by Alexander Krull (singer), Thorsten Bauer (guitarist) and Sander van der Meer (guitarist) at first. Then I start working on my vocal melodies and lyrics.
A solo album song-writing process mostly runs in the opposite direction: initially there’s a vocal melody or a single bass or piano line from which all songs start growing. I composed three songs, the rest was co-composed with J.B.van der Wal, under the production of Mastersound, Alexander Krull (husband, producer). The only exception is the Kate Bush cover, of course.”
The opening song on ‘Libertine’ titled ‘Interlude’ feels like a serenade. Was that song inspired by someone. What or who, is your main inspiration in general?
Liv Kristine: “Interlude is a very atmospheric opener and intro pece of music. It has a sweet sound to it. It is a love declaration written like a poem. Coming to influences, I am lucky to have parents who love music too, so I’ve always spent a lot of time listening and singing along to music.
I started to sing even before I could walk or talk, however, I never had any musical education and I never studied music (I studied linguistics, German, English and historic languages). It was my inner voice that told me that singing is a part of me, it just comes from the heart.
Actually, when I was little, I thought that every human being could sing! Well, I guess I’m lucky, having a kind of perfect hearing. Coming to influences I grew up with Black Sabbath, Deep Purple, Edvard Grieg and Tschaikowsky. Also female singers like Enya, Madonna, Kate Bush, Abba, Tori Amos and Monserrat Caballe.
From the very beginning, I’ve followed my musical instinct: I wanted to combine a romantic, female, angelic voice with powerful and impressive music. Then suddenly, when I was eighteen years old, I found myself in the middle of writing music history with Theatre of Tragedy. My favorite album at the moment is “Ark” by Brendan Perry – absolutely amazing, can’t stop listening to it!”
Liv Kristine: “Most influence come from my homecountry, Norway. Then why Paris? I haven’t always liked Paris, as I also have experienced a few bad things there, however, we have slowly become friends now. I like the special feeling I often have when I visit Paris: the narrow streets, the little cafés serving the even smaller espresso, all the beautiful fountains, the Seine, and (as often happens in Paris)the rain!
One of my favorite cafés is in Paris, where I usually have a cup of tea and carrot cake when it’s raining outside. ‘Paris Paris’ was actually a demo song I prepared for Theatre of Tragedy, but it was never recorded. However, I re-wrote it for fun using the program Garage band. My co-musicians loved it and all the instruments were recorded new. It is definitely a very refreshing song.”
What draws you to other cultures?
Liv Kristine: ” It is rather the nature that draws me to other cultures and places. I am dreaming about going to Himalaya, doing a mountain tour by foot, meeting and getting to know the peoples and their history. I have to tell you I just love little villages surrounded by nature, which is also my main motives when I paint my pictures. There is something exciting, like a secret to every village, I think.”
Where did the idea of the Kate Bush cover come from? It is not an easy song to sing. Were you afraid of any criticism of Kate Bush fans or others?
Liv Kristine: ” So far the critics have been absolutely amazing! I am so touched. Kate Bush and Tori Amos are truly my greatest influences vocally. Since I never had any musical education I have found my own way to prepare my voice before a concert or recording session. In which I sing along to either of these wonderful voices.
It was my best friend, Katja, who had this idea that I should cover Kate. During one of our girls’ evenings (parties) I started singing from the top of my voice along to Kate, but the next day I was worried what the neighbors would say. Katjas neighbors did not complain. and my friend inspired me to record the track for ‘Libertine’. It was recorded in a one- take session.”
Your first solo album was released many years ago in 1998, but when did you first feel the urge to make a solo album?
Liv Kristine: “I’ve been singing for longer than I can remember. I think ‘Deus ex Machina’ came at the right point of time yes.”
Would you feel like you couldn’t express a part of yourself if you did not have your solo career?
Liv Kristine: ” I have to tell you that I feel truly privileged. First of all I am grateful to my fans and friends for giving me all this respect, love and good energy. Some of them following me since my ex-band Theatre of Tragedy came into existence about eighteen years ago. My fans have granted me this freedom I appreciate so much.
Through both Leaves’ Eyes and my solo project, I am able to live out my musical instinct. There has never been a day since I at the age of seven realized that I had been given a special musical gift genetically. Since my childhood there has never been a day at which I haven’t been creative in some or the other way. I just love singing, composing, writing, recording and most of all: playing gigs!”
What is it like to perform these songs live, since they must be really close to your heart?
Liv Kristine: ” Absolutely amazing! There was this moment during my concert in Nagold (Germany) December 2011, when I first presented the demo song ‘Libertine’ to my audience. I had also performed a handful of Theatre of Tragedy songs, because it was my wish. There and then I understood in which musical direction my up-coming album would be, more powerful, more back to the roots. Everybody was there, my closest friends and family, my fantastic fans from all over the world: Argentina, Belgium, Denmark, UK, Finland, Spain, Holland and all over Germany. I was so happy: this was a very special night for me, so special that I will do it again in December 22. this year!”
Liv Kristine: “I am getting closer and closer to myself, I feel that my artistic heart is happy, I am really having a good time although it is such hard work. I have so many ideas: I tell you I never get bored.”
Do you have a message for your Dutch fans?
Liv Kristine: “Thank you for being there for me all these years, with Theatre of Tragedy, Leaves’Eyes and my solo work. I hope you enjoy ‘Libertine’ as much as I did composing and recording it. I can’t wait to play it live for you! See you soon, I can’t wait to be back in beautiful, humble Holland – Love Liv.”
More information on: http://www.livkristine.de
Word of Thanks to: Liv Kristine, Napalm Records and Hardlife promotion.
tekst: Gerianne Meijer
Liv Kristine is in de metal wereld voornamelijk bekend als frontvrouw van Leaves’ Eyes, maar deze kundige zangeres heeft inmiddels wel bewezen in haar eentje sterk te staan. Deze maand komt ze met haar vierde solo album ‘Libertine’ en dat is de opvolger van ‘Skintight’ uit 2011.
Opener ‘Interlude’ komt over als een serenade. Met een zachte gitaar en bijpassende, herkenbare zang is dit een goed voorproefje voor de rest van het album. Het nummer bevat elementen die velen aan Theatre Of Tragedy doen denken, dus voor de donkere muziekliefhebber ook zeker een aanrader.
Opvolger ‘Solve Me’ is uptempo door de stevige drums. Het nummer luistert goed weg afgezien van het refrein, waarin Liv op sommige momenten zo laag zingt dat het ietwat onprettig klinkt. Het is wel een nummer wat de roots van deze Noors, Duitse zangeres laat zien.
Na deze twee nummers is duidelijk dat het album te verdelen valt in twee soorten nummers: de breekbare, emotionele ‘ballades’ en de meer uptempo rock nummers. Een goed voorbeeld van de eerste soort is ‘ Silence’. De zang is gevoelig, maar niet over de top. De piano ondersteunt de vocalen goed. De overgang naar een wat zwaarder stuk met gitaar is wat voorspelbaar, maar wel smaakvol gedaan.
Duidelijk is dat Liv Kristine inmiddels erg goed weet wat ze met haar stem kan en deze ook uitermate benut. Ze zingt over het algemeen ook iets lager dan velen gewend zijn van haar, waardoor haar stem iets prettiger in het gehoor ligt. ‘Paris, Paris’ is een uptempo nummer en de eerste single. Het nummer is niet een erg goed voorbeeld voor de rest van het album, maar valt juist erg op door de wat folky sfeer en het Frans taalgebruik.
De zangeres geeft een draai aan haar stem, waardoor het geheel Franser klinkt. Wat mij betreft niet het sterkste nummer. De titeltrack is een knaller, zowel live als op het album. De gitaar is stevig, de drums zijn donker en er is ruimte voor de zang zonder aan stevigheid te verliezen. Het nummer wordt zelfs gesierd met een gitaarsolo. Dit is rock met de nodige dosis energie.
Als afsluiter is er gekozen voor een cover: ‘The Man With The Child In His Eyes’ van Kate Bush. Persoonlijk hou ik niet zo van covers als afsluiter, omdat het afdoet aan de eigenheid van het album. De cover is kwalitatief goed, maar voegt niets nieuws toe. Voor de fans wel een leuk extraatje.
Al met al is ‘Libertine’ een fijn uitstapje van de deze zangeres. Vergeleken met het vorige album, is dit nieuwste wapenfeit wat steviger. Liv Kristine laat zien haar stem nog op andere manieren te kunnen gebruiken, dan alleen hoog en engelachtig. Niet alle nummers zijn even noemenswaardig, maar het geheel luistert goed weg. Uiteraard voor de fans een aanrader, en voor liefhebbers die een kwalitatief goed pop- en rock album, zonder al teveel poespas, waarderen. Met uiteraard de goede zang van Liv Kristine op die centraal staat en kwaliteit garandeert.