by Joe Mis
– Columnist —
Libertine is the upcoming solo release from Norwegian-born singer/songwriter Liv Kristine, who is more widely known as the lead singer for the symphonic folk metal powerhouse band Leaves’ Eyes and Theatre of Tragedy. Libertine is not a symphonic metal release by any means, but rather a fluid and modern rock album – although occasionally some metal (and maybe just a little pop) gleams through.
Liv’s latest solo effort is her fourth, and follows on the heels of the successful Deus Ex Machina (1998), Enter My Religion (2006), and Skintight (2010). Libertine is a mature and intelligent album in terms of both songwriting and performance, and is filled with warmth, creativity, and emotion. Liv (who also is known by her full name – Liv Kristine Espenæs Krull) really steps to the front and takes full control of this release. Not only does she sing lead vocals, but she wrote all the lyrics, and composed the music in cooperation with J.B. van der Wal, Thorsten Bauer and producer (also husband) Alexander Krull. Only the cover of Kate Bush’s “The Man With a Child in His Eyes” is not her own creation, but the arrangement is uniquely Liv.
Musically Libertine runs the gamut from soft acoustic ballad to pop-rock to melodic metal, and each genre is handled well. Not only are Liv’s vocals superbly done and well-recorded, but the rest of the band is in top form as well. Liv is joined by J.B. van der Wal (guitars / bass / keyboards), Thorsten Bauer (guitars / bass / keys), Felix Born (drums), Alessandro Pantò (piano), and Christoph Kutzer (cello). Vocalist Tobias Regner joins to provide duet vocals on one track.
“Interlude” opens the album with soft vocals and acoustic instruments before becoming to a calm slow tempo rocker. “Solve Me” kicks it up to mid-tempo and blends in some pop elements, and features a toe-tapping rhythm line and sing along chorus. The moody and reflective “Silence” is by far the best track on the album. Emotional and heartfelt lyrics flow over a simple and effective piano tune, and Liv delivers the words with passion while avoiding the over-emoting that many singers tend to bring to their ballad pieces. Tobias Regner contributes some great vocals on the somewhat erotic duet rocker, “Vanilla Skin Delight.” Nicely done keyboards and a great vocal performance highlight the soft and moody “Panic.” The band definitely goes upbeat pop with the kicky “Paris Paris.” Despite the Top-40-radio feel, this track features a surprisingly “metal” guitar break.
A strong bass line and excellent drum work carry “Wait For Rain” into darker territory, and the lyrics and fine vocal performance easily convey the emotion and tone intended. “Love Crime” is a short, near-Gothic ballad driven primarily by piano, and it leads into the most metal track on the album – the title track “Libertine.” Great vocals, big hooks and driving bass make this song a strong one. “Meet Me in the Red Sky” is another nicely done keyboard driven ballad with some electronic overtones and a neat rolling rhythm line. The album wraps with a well-done cover version of Kate Bush’s “The Man With a Child in His Eyes.”
If you are a Liv Kristine fan, Libertine will not disappoint. Liv proves herself to be an incredibly versatile singer and a fine songwriter. This album IS Liv Kristine, and she holds nothing back. Superbly recorded and engineered, the mix of styles will please fans of almost every rock genre. Once again, Liv and her friends prove themselves to be at the top of their game.
Very highly recommended!
Libertine is set to be released on 7-September-2012 through Napalm Records.
Genre: Modern Melodic Rock
Liv Kristine (vocals)
J.B. van der Wal (guitars, bass, keys, programming)
Thorsten Bauer (guitars, bass, keys)
Felix Born (drums, percussion)
Alessandro Pantò (piano)
Christoph Kutzer (cello)
Guest Performers – Tobias Regner – duet vocals on Track 4
1. Interlude (Intro)
2. Solve Me
4. Vanilla Skin Delight
6. Paris Paris
7. Wait for Rain
8. Love Crime
10. Meet Me in the Red Sky
11. The Man With a Child in His Eyes
Label: Napalm Records
Hardrock Haven rating: 9.5/10