LEAH – The Quest [expanded +3] (2019)
“The Quest” is the third album by Vancouver, British Columbia based symphonic metal songstress Leah McHenry, better known as LEAH, originally released at the end of past year. She’s always composing and recording, and now surfaced an expanded edition of the album with bonus tracks.
Leah’s music is what she refers to as ‘Celtic fantasy metal’ to effectively combine ethereal ambiance, Middle Eastern and Medieval folk passages with a progressive symphonic basis. “The Quest” finds her backing off (at least somewhat) the heavier propensities of previous albums while maintaining the distinct interpretation that sets her apart within all things symphonic.
This a more melodic, folksier version of symphonic metal means that we get lots of textures and sounds, mainly flutes and pipes. It also means that there is a certain cinematic feeling to the whole album. Contrasting with that is Leah’s very modern vocal melodies, which are honestly a major highlight of every song.
Leah’s voice is one of sincerity and purity. She doesn’t try to sound like any other ‘Sympho Lady’, and she focuses on clarity and melody, rather than on theatricality or showiness.
“The Quest” is full of wonderful songs. It seems like every single track has its own little twist, so it’s difficult to single any out as favorites. One of the highlights actually starts the album, and is a stupendous progressive piece. “The Quest” title track has a great central melody, with metallic portions that really rock, though the overall feeling of the song is one of variety or progression, never sticking to one sound. I love the way it transitions vocal melodies near the end, as well.
Then “Edge of Your Sword” is pretty catchy with keyboards to start giving way to a rolling drumbeat, it has a fantastic chorus, however isn’t as simple as it first appears, always keeping your interest.
is of similar quality. It strays into heavier mid-paced territory, playing up the emotional with its ennobled vocal melodies but also accessible in terms of one of the albums more august (and catchy) refrains. The conspicuous work of bassist Barend Courbois further builds upon the sublime aura.
“Heir” has just another an addictive chorus; as does “Ruins of Illusion”, which has an acoustic central melody making it feel shadowy and mysterious.
“Oblivion (Between Two Worlds)” is probably my second favorite on the album, mixing Leah’s expansive phrasing with tight and spiraling Celtic melodies. Finally, “The Water is Wide” is a wonderful ballad, emotional and hopeful.
As extras we find “Elixir of Life”, a song composed during Leah’s previous album sessions, but as she got too many songs already recorded, it quickly didn’t make the cut.
Then “The Dragonborn Comes” is Leah’s personal rendition of the theme song to the popular RPG game Skyrim. Even if you don’t play it, it’s a beautiful soundtrack, and Leah used the imagery of the game as inspiration. Completing the batch there’s “Lion Arises (Instrumental Version)”, showcasing the band’s dexterity as whole.
“The Quest” is very accessible to the ears yet very elaborated in the arrangements, progressive, epic at places, ethereal at others, and always highly melodic. The lyrics are hopeful and encouraging, portraying the journey of life as we face trials and good times, battles and peace.
Definitely different to the current female Sympho music, Leah’s own approach is really interesting all the way through, and while commercial in its delivery you may find more depth than you expect.
01 – The Quest
02 – Edge of Your Sword
03 – Lion Arises
04 – Heir
05 – Ruins of Illusion
06 – Labyrinth
07 – Abyss
08 – Oblivion (Between Two Worlds)
09 – Ghost Upon a Throne
10 – The Water is Wide
11 – Elixir of Life (Bonus Track)
12 – The Dragonborn Comes (Bonus Track)
13 – Lion Arises (Instrumental Version) (Bonus Track)
LEAH – Vocals, Keys, Orchestration
Timo Somers – Guitars
Barend Courbois – Bass
Sander Zoer – Drums & Percussion
Troy Donockley – Pipes & Flutes
Chen Balbus – Middle Eastern Saz & Oud
BUY IT !