To a backdrop of Norwegian beauty roamed a little girl known as Liv Kristine Espenæs Krull, and as the years went by she grew up to be a very prolific female front woman who not only tackled vocal duties for Leaves’ Eyes and Theatre of Tragedy, but also ventured into solo singing territories. These days and nights we know her simply as Liv Kristine and she’s now ready to unleash her fifth studio album of gothic torment and haunted tones. Perfect really when you consider that Halloween is on the doorstep!
Thanks to the assistance of two special guests, Vervain continues the drama which was sent our way on the 2012 album Libertine. These added contributions can be witnessed on the songs Love Decay which features Michelle Darkness (End of Green) and Stronghold of Angels where the metal legend Doro Pesch awaits in the gloomy shadows.
Love Decay has a prominent late 90’s feel capturing the gothic rock sound of that time but works well as a duet. Meanwhile, ripping apart the cobwebs on Stronghold of Angels you find the lumbering undercurrent of a doom-inspired track as both female vocalists soar overhead like vultures awaiting their ripe rewards. Elsewhere on this macabre cabaret of the wicked lurk such swaying moments like Lotus – a genuine highlight for those wishing to unlock a caged heart.
Primed like a rusty-hinged coffin, the jagged Elucidation darts amongst the grimy corners of the local graveyard, whilst album-opener My Wilderness brings together both atmosphere and crashing distortion of guitar. Some may find the production values of the sparingly used guitar rather tinny or diluted in some way, but this is a minor distraction thanks to some strong songwriting.
For those who embrace the darkest romantic vampire novels and wish for a suitable soundtrack, then Kristine has produced a cohesive and solid ten track collection. It isn’t full of gothic ballads of woe; it is more along the lines of a restless gothic heart which beats to the rhythm of long-lost love whilst riding a black stallion through the mists of the forest.
With a strong wind rushing through her hair, she has taken granite to feed her edgier moments of heavy guitars like on album-closer Oblivion, and then satisfies the more contemporary hunger of accessible darkness with Love Decays. The tender moments arrive like Lotus which provides sanctuary for the blood-soaked wounds and caresses the aching bosom. This isn’t the wet and limp bandage which is wrapped around a mummy; this is a vampire writhing with toothache!