LEAH – Kings & Queens (2015)
Canadian symphonic metal songstress LEAH McHenry is releasing today, February 3rd, “Kings & Queens” – her second full-length studio release. I am new to her music, but in short Leah blends Celtic, world music, and progressive metal influences into European-style symphonic metal, resulting in a unique and interesting sound.
Leah’s superb vocals are backed by an excellent band – many of whom will be immediately familiar to fans of European symphonic metal.
Leah released her debut CD three years ago, and 2 EPs since, and seems has built up a decent sized fan base thanks to her good use of social media and grass-roots publicity.
Leah’s music in many ways is a blend of Leaves’ Eyes, Lana Lane and Delain – with more of a metal influence. Celtic melodies and mythology bump into new age concepts and symphonic / progressive metal tones, and Leah and her friends deliver it with passion.
The band consists of guitarist Timo Somers and drummer Sander Zoer – both members of Delain so you can tell the comparison – and experienced bassist Barend Courbois (Blind Guardian, Vengeance). Also contributing are Brent McHenry (orchestration) and Oliver Philipps (keyboards, orchestration).
While quite heavy at places (in a prog metal style), Leah aims for diversity of tone and tempo, strong lyrics and folk overtones that define her musical delivery.
“Arcadia” starts off as brutally heavy track with massive bass and drums, but immediately softens to become a haunting and flowing mid to slow tempo rocker that highlights the diverse tone and atmosphere that characterize the rest of the album. “Save The World” is a rollicking folk metal track with lush orchestration and cool vocals, while “Angel Fell” is a sweeping medieval ballad built around driving bass and ethereal vocals.
Leah’s Irish / Scottish blood runs high on the epic “Enter The Highlands,” a tightly performed track with many tempo changes and symphonic elements. The technical performances on this spirited song are near perfection, making it the true apex of the album.
Leah’s vocal performance ranges from soft and sweet to smokey and sensuous on the slow rocker “In the Palm of Your Hands” and the guitars of Timo Somers are at their most expressive.
Celtic and Middle Eastern influences abound on the progressive “Alpha et Omega,” while “Heart of Poison” displays the veteran status and fine teamwork of drum and bass. The flowing guitar opening of “Hourglass” and soft vocals are really enchanting.
The near 8 minute “Palace of Dreams” ramps up the energy and clearly displays Leah’s love for the more mystical side of symphonic metal, and some very strong guitar and keyboard work. “This Present Darkness” follows the same road, although this track is built more around Leah’s amazing voice.
“The Crown” is a triumphant ballad that builds in intensity as more and more layers of music are added as the song progresses.
“Remnant” is powered by some precise and energetic bass and drum work. Choral vocals, a neat blend of acoustic instruments, intriguing bass work, and a flowing rhythm line make “There Is No Farewell” an epic folk metal track.
Leah wraps the album in fine Celtic style with a beautiful acoustic version of the traditional Irish tune “Siúil A Rún”, and done in a rocking way as bonus track.
Leah’s “Kings & Queens” will appeal to fans of sympho / prog meta and general female-fronted rock aficionados. There is enough variety and diversity to please even the pickiest of listeners, and the sheer breadth of performance talents and songwriting skills set Leah apart from the crowd.
Whether delivering symphonic bombast or delicate melody, Leah proves that she is an up-and-coming force not only in the symphonic genres, but in almost every melodic metal class.
02. Save the World
03. Angel Fell
04. Enter the Highlands
05. In the Palm of Your Hands
06. Alpha et Omega
07. Heart of Poison
09. Palace of Dreams
10. This Present Darkness
11. The Crown
13. There Is No Farewell
14. Siúil a Rún
15. Siúil a Rún (Bonus Rock Version)
Leah – Vocals
Timo Somers (Delain, Vengeance) – Guitars
Barend Courbois (Vengeance, Blind Guardian) – Bass
Sander Zoer (ex-Delain) – Drums, Percussion
Brent McHenry – Keyboards, Synths, Orchestration
Oliver Philipps – Orchestration & Pianos
BUY IT !