Monday, April 23, 2012


AFM Records

Even though this is the fourth full-length album for Germany's Lyriel it is my first experience with the group and their take on folk metal. Even if I am not the best judge of the genre (and would much rather be checking out some old fashioned traditional heavy metal act or even thrash band right about now) I am always looking to broaden my tastes and review music outside my comfort zone. Of course my comfort zone already includes everyone from ABBA to Napalm Death so how much more room I have to expand is any one's guess. I'm really not sure what I expected to hear out "Leverage". Would any aspect of this band make me more open to folk metal? Would my mind end up taking a pleasant enough stroll? Or what I just end up listening to the album while secretly hoping I could just tune the whole thing out? Those were just a few of the questions I started with when I made my way down into my office with wine in hand all in an effort to relax after a tiring weekend. My first thought when it comes to this band is that singer Jessica Thierjung´s voice is both soulful and stunning. She is quite heavy on the heart and her sweet air of intoxication just might be the extra incentive I need to give this album my full and undivided attention. For whatever reason I now feel compelled to let you all in on a little secret of mine and that is while I might not always appreciate music like Blackmore's Night (a band that Lyriel was often compared to in their early years) I do enjoy not only stuff like ABBA, but also older folk rock and the softer AM radio hits of the seventies. By that same token then I should like folk metal right? Well, there are somethings I just love by themselves that just do not go together in my opinion. For example as much as I love both bacon and chocolate they should not be mixed together no matter what some weird food fanatic tells you. That is how I generally feel about folk and metal. Even so I do enjoy the mixture of let's say melodic rock and harder-edged heavy metal. And I can appreciate hard rock bands that tone down the rough edge to let in a more gentle moment. So, when the album's more tender moments of melodic rock come into play I did perk up some. On "The Road Not Taken" it is the softness in singer Jessica Thierjung's voice that mostly intrigues me. Not that she can't handle the album's heavier material. The album's title cut is what happens when a band evolves beyond it's humble folk rock/metal and makes a move towards a far more mature symphonic metal style. It's a wonder that cuts like the already mentioned "Leverage" and the hard rock/heavy cruncher "White Lilly" exist on an album that still tries far to0 hard to involve the violin and cello at whatever cost. Why? It ends up sounding quite unnatural and forced on an album that has occasion to sound all the more special. With "Repentance" you have a track that finds this German act more forceful and powerful than ever and yet it is the album's closing number so you do have to wade through filler material to get there. I say this with the full knowledge that it will not make much sense, but If only this band would drift towards a more mainstream/streamlined hard rock or mainstream metal sound they would be truly magnificent. It goes against my better judgement to suggest that any group embrace a (for lack of a better description) popular sound, but Lyriel has all the tools it needs in their lead singer to break through to a larger audience. They don't have to abandon the heavy metal part of their sound or anything, but I would drop the folk aspect and move comfortably into a style that falls somewhere between Halestorm and Sister Sin. If not I suspect that Lyriel will never be much more than a national treasure at best.

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