British Columbia’s own Canadian metal songwriter Leah returns her beautiful, whispers in the wind vocals to our ears with her newest release; “The Quest”. Ten tracks come to us this time around, anchored by an over 10 minute self-titled intro track. Let’s dive in, shall we?
‘The Quest’ is our gateway into an immersive world of excellent, full orchestration and near-Enya levels of vocal beauty. The progression from near-theatric beginnings, then growing into a spectacular journey to a perfectly produced heavy build, into not one but two climactic chorus lines! Fantastic! This is promptly followed by ‘Edge of your Sword’, which had a release as a music video on multiple streaming sites. Great riffs, nice build…. quality symphonic prog metal.
‘Lion Arises’ pushes us back into a heavier series of intro riffs that quietly shift into softer vocals. Just after, it convinces you of calmer waters ahead, and it quickly shifts into a strong chorus line that is both beautifully sung and powerfully presented. Excellently presented, thus far! ‘Heir’ has a nice chanting symphony that concludes with a charming theme, which closes out the fourth track on this album. Leah can almost do no wrong at this point! Six more tracks to go and I love where this is going. We would have to hit a massive wall to mess this up now!
‘Ruins of Illusion’ is almost exactly where this wall comes into view. Now, I can’t say this track comes in as a terrible change of pacing or drastic drop in quality throughout the length of this album, but what I can say is that it seems to really lose the momentum that was being carried over the first 4 tracks of ‘The Quest’. It’s pretty, that’s for sure, and it presents nice sound quality and depth that almost feels more like a motion picture soundtrack than a progressive metal track. It’s quiet and moody, with a soft whispering vocal line that sets up an attractive scene.
This continues with ‘Labyrinth,’ as in slowing down to a soft crawl with the build; however, this track has a nice chorus. ‘Abyss’ is more of the same. What the hell, Leah? What happened to all of the motivation and excitement from the opening tracks? ‘Oblivion’ has more soft keyboards that gradually grow into a symphonic chorus, ‘(Between Two Worlds)’, that is moving, but underwhelming.
‘Ghost Upon a Throne’ finally kicks in some damn guitars into the latter half of this release, returning to some of the higher points of what we heard at the beginning of ‘The Quest’. It’s still a bit tamer than the best work. ‘The Water Is Wide’ puts me to sleep. It’s sweet, but certainly not for everyone. I’m not sure if I’m listening to an awesome progressive metal album anymore or a hit single from Celine Dion. This is a sad fluffle to end things on
Overall, I both love and dislike this release. Four amazing tracks, the rest… meh. I think fans of Nightwish or Oratory might have a good time with this release, but it falls really short to some recent releases of the likes of Ethernity’s ‘The Human Race Extinction’, that proves in a sea of mediocre symphonic metal that greatness is achievable. It’s very imbalanced, with a few excellent tracks that get you sucked in, while what comes after is disappointing. Maybe would’ve been an excellent 4 track EP?
Review by Joshua Jaeger
5th October 2018
1) The Quest
2) Edge of Your Sword
3) Lion Arises
5) Ruins of Illusion
8) Oblivion (Between Two Worlds)
9) Ghost Upon a Throne
10) The Water is Wide
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:
"...near-Enya levels of vocal beauty."