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Nordic History Lesson: An Exclusive Interview With LIV KRISTINE Of LEAVES' EYES

By Wendy Jasper, Black Metal Aficionado
Monday, January 4, 2016 @ 2:38 PM

Norse Songstress Takes Us To The Battle Of Hafrsfjord With King Of Kings

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Live Photo By Wendy Jasper-Martinez

From the icy fjords of Norway comes the chilling tale of the bravery and battles of Harald I, the often lauded and idolized King of Norway. Born of Halvdan the Black, the young Harald was raised in an oft brutal environment that forced him to grow up fast and take the reins of a crushing army at a young age.

Known for their historic, lush storytelling, LEAVES' EYES latest effort, King Of Kings, is no less than it should be when it comes to chronicling the biographical folktale of Norway’s first King. Grammy nominated vocalist Liv Kristine gives an opulent performance on the album that she and bandmate and husband, Alexander Krull (ATROCITY), are so proud of.

Recorded over the course of a year and released in late 2015, Liv says that she wanted to create a magical story of King Harald and give listeners a deep and abiding feeling for her homeland.

“This album has so much to offer when it comes to the story of Harald,” Kristine said. “It is epic and breathtaking and because Hafrsfjord is my birthplace it is special to me. Harald was technically called the first king of Norway and his father, Halvdan was also a King and warlord. We have songs on the album that tell the story of how Harald’s father taught him and how he rose to power himself through many battles. He was a beloved king of his people and helped to unite Norway.”

One such song is the anthemic “Halvdan The Black”; a song that gives an historic backstory of Harald’s father. Then the album leads us into future visions of Harald as seen by his mother and father and how he would fulfill the prophecy seen in those visions. In “Waking Eye”, the story comes to life. The video for the song aptly inserts the listener into the story through the eyes of Harald’s parents. We see a young Harald under the tutelage of this father and the visionsthat show him as a future king.

“The video for “Waking Eye” (video HERE) was fun to make and it gave us all a chance to get involved,” she said. “It has not only the historical aspect but it helps you envision what may have been happening at that point in time. We enjoyed working on it and Leon (Liv and Alexander’s son) is in the video. Leon performed as young Harald and then Alex was Harald as an adult going into battle. Both of them got to have a great time being Vikings! It has been doing well and getting a lot of views on the various video channels.”

As the music progresses, so does the story. Traditional history books leave much to the imagination regarding the story of Harald and information about him can be somewhat hard to find for the amateur historian. However, Kristine is an expert when it comes to Norse history and lore and she turns it into compelling songwriting.

“The deciding battle, according to historians, is the battle of Hafrsfjord,” Kristine said. “Snorri's Heimskringla (A medieval Norse encyclopedia) called it the Saga of Harald Harfagre, or Harald Fairhair, and though there were many smaller battles leading up to Hafrsfjord, that final decisive battle is what was considered to have unified Norway.”

Not only does the album have the sweeping, technical fare that fans may expect from LEAVES' EYES, it also features special guests; something else the band is famous for. Whether they are guest singers or musicians, there is always something to look forward to.

“This time we have as guests on the record the London Voices,” she said. “They are a choir that has performed on many soundtracks like the Harry Potter, Star Wars and Lord Of The Rings movies, so you can imagine how much depth they added. It is very cinematic in sound. The album was produced by Alexander and he had a vision for how it should all be in the end. We also have featured the White Russian Symphony Orchestra and a guest vocal by EPICA singer Simone Simmons. I have always enjoyed working with other singers and I like to invite them to record with us.”

The band has many touring plans for the next year. While the album was released in September 2015, the band had already began touring and showcasing some of the new music. Additionally, they were adding to their calendar and have shows booked in various parts of the world through September 2016. Some of these are one off shows and festivals, but there will be a comprehensive world tour very similar to the one scheduled for their previous album, Symphonies Of The Night.

“That tour took us all over the world,” Kristine said. “We played all of Europe, North and South America, Asia; it was a massive undertaking. We expect to do the same thing for this record.”

The band has their first show of the new year in Tel Aviv, Israel. It will be the first time the band has ever been there and they will headline SymphonicFest Israel on February 14th.

Pick up your copy of King Of Kings today, check out the band’s videos and look for touring information on their website at www.leaveseyes.de

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