Reminiscent of the folkier side of Nightwish, Xandria and Edenbridge
Hailing from Germany is an interesting band named Lyriel. Unheard of for me personally until the disc landed in my lap, Lyriel have been around since 2003 and play a form of gothic metal forged with folk and alternative elements. Since 2003, Lyriel has released four albums, the fourth being their latest entitled ‘Leverage’.
Lyriel has bounced around from label to label since their inception, starting with the unknown Black Bards for their first two releases, then moving to the even lesser known (and now defunct) Femme Metal Record for their third CD. Lyriel were then thrown a lifeline in March 2011 when they were signed by giant German label AFM Records, their first act was to re-release the band’s third disc ‘Paranoid Circus’. One thing Lyriel needed badly by being signed by a big label such as AFM is exposure, and now they have it and the spotlight is definitively on them. After seven years of being relatively unknown, Lyriel are now officially on the radar of more metal fans to will enjoy and appreciate their style of music.
Lyriel consists of seven members, including keyboardist Martin Ahmann, drummer Marcus Eidorra, guitarist Oliver Claymore, bassist Matthias Kirchler and female vocalist Jessica Thierjung. Rounding out the band, Lyriel also has a violinist, Johannes Anand and a cellist, Linda Laukamp; responsible for Lyriel’s folkish elements. Lyriel have an association with symphonic metal band Xandria, with Jessica Thierjung appearing as a guest vocalist on Xandria’s ‘India’ album as well as playing on two more songs on the same release.
The majority of the tracks on the album are reminiscent of the folkier side of bands like Nightwish, Xandria and Edenbridge, while female vocalist Jessica Thierjung, aside from being a talented and passionate singer, reminds me of predominately of current Nightwish vocalist Anette Olzon, as well as ex-Xandria vocalist Lisa Schaphaus-Middelhauve. Once again in reference to Nightwish and Xandria (also including Edenbridge, Imperia and Visions of Atlantis); fans of those bands would also enjoy the music on offer here on ‘Leverage’.
Not overly heavy, nor was it expected when the band has a large folkish element to their sound, Lyriel’s sound still contains crisp and crunchy guitar riffs and superb and powerful drumming. Obviously their main focus after Thierjung’s excellent vocals is their wonderful harmonies and glistening melodies that accompany each track. The addition of a violin and cello adds further depth and melody and overall works very well with the more traditional instruments, to not be drowned out or be barely audible.
Being German natives, there are a two songs on ‘Leverage’ that are sung entirely in German; “Aus Der Tiefe” and “Wenn Die Engel Fallen”. Both songs are quite good with a saturation of the string instruments. One issue that seems to flow throughout the album is with Lyriel unsure of the direction they want to go in. With songs dramatically heavier than others, and some songs containing less or no folk elements, I figure the band is trying to reach out to as many listeners/fans as they can now that their music is more accessible after being signed by AFM.
The key main focus track on the album would have to be the somewhat radio-friendly, Nightwish sounding rocker title track “Leverage”. Upbeat and cheerful, the title track is sure to please the vast majority of female fronted metal bands, with Thierjung showcasing her wonderful vocal talents. Other festive and energetic tunes on the CD include the Celtic tinged “Parting” and the more straightforward but highly effective traditional metal sounding “White Lilly”.
The best track on the disc is the quite heavy (to the rest of the album) “Voices in my Head”. Very bombastic and dark-tinged, this track is a huge standout on all levels, especially the crunchy and heavy guitar riffs and added male vocals dropped in here and there. The song reminds me of Sirenia mostly and I wonder why they didn’t choose this heavier side from the get-go, as the song kicks ass. Lastly, for the ballad fans, you can’t go wrong with the beautiful track “The Road Not Taken”, which features just an acoustic guitar, cello, violin and Thierjung’s soulful voice for the most part, before the tempo changes and the drums, bass and electric guitar comes in towards the end.
In the end ‘Leverage’ is a good album that fans of symphonic metal, gothic metal and female fronted traditional metal should find rather enjoyable and interesting. Lyriel haven’t broken any moulds with this release, however if anything they now have much more exposure than they had before and hopefully after this CD, an influx of new fans. Depending on the direction Lyriel want to go in, they could become quite popular within the symphonic and gothic metal genres, particularly if they produce more songs in the same vein as “Voices in my Head”.