Released by: Inner Wound Records
Release date: 5 October 2018
Genre: Folk Metal, Celtic Metal, Symphonic rock, female fronted symphonic metal
Leah McHenry – vocals
Troy Donockley [Nightwish] – pipes and flutes
Barend Courbois [Blind Guardian] – bass
Timo Somers [Delain] – guitars
Sander Zoer [ex. Delain] – drums and percussion
Chen Balbus [Orphaned Land] – Saz and Oud
01. The Quest
02. Edge of Your Sword
03. Lion Arises
05. Ruins of Illusion
08. Oblivion (Between Two Worlds)
09. Ghost Upon a Throne
10. The Water Is Wide
If I’m being honest the more Celtic/folkish Symphonic Metal stuff really isn’t my cup of tea. It’s too nice and pretty and oftentimes that overly operatic singing style bugs me after a while. Musically it tends to be too New Agey- I like my Metal to have a bit more oomph. Or so I thought until I saw a band called Brave a few years ago that was of this style and actually were super entertaining and had a bit of a harder edge than I was expecting. That opened me up to giving this type of music a shot, though I still have remained hesitant towards it. The band Leah, so named for singer Leah McHenry, has been around for a little bit, but has never graced my ears until now with their latest offering on Inner Wound Records entitled The Quest.
Two things hit me immediately upon my first listen of this album: McHenry has a beautiful voice that is so entrancing and lilting it instantly commands your attention. The next thing was that the music was a bit darker than what I was anticipating, though still very pretty and mellow. There is a definite New Age vibe through much of the album, but not as plain and monotonous as a lot of New Age tends to be. In fact, some of this stuff reminds me a bit of The Gathering only not as melancholy (and I view that as a compliment as I am a big The Gathering fan.) The Quest has an epic feel to it like it is taking you on an actual quest. Tracks like “Edge of Your Sword,” “Ruins of Illusion,” and “Ghost Upon A Throne” are majestic and grand while songs like “Oblivion (Between Two Worlds),” “Lion Arises,” and “Labyrinth” accentuate Leah’s stunning vocal talents. Since I have no comparison to go on with past releases (easily remedied I suppose, and likely will, but pressed for time) this is a very passionate and beautiful album with some great musicians offering their talents to Leah’s angelic vocals.
This will still likely not be for everyone. There are some good metallic moments, but for the most part, tends to be a fairly laidback album relying mostly on lush orchestrations and instrumentation. I found it to be very soothing and relaxing, the perfect soundtrack to unwind after a tough day at work. Different styles of music serve different types of people- Leah’s The Quest definitely has an important place in an eclectic world of music and I’m glad it does. It soothes the savage beast.
Written by: Chris Martin