LIV MOON – The End of the Beginning

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Tracklist:

  1. Prologue
  2. Free Your Soul
  3. Fountain Of My Pleasure
  4. And Forever More (feat. Kee Marcello)
  5. Black Fairy
  6. The End of the Beginning
  7. Valhalla
  8. Midsummer Eve
  9. Hell
  10. Kiri no Requiem
  11. Land of Spirit
  12. Immortals
  13. Oogon no Namida
  14. Voyage

———————————

1. Prologue

A gentle introduction which builds in intensity opens the album. Starting with sounds of nature in the background, different orchestral instruments slowly build into the theme of one of the later tracks, Fountain Of My Pleasure. It’s a nice opening track.

2. Free Your Soul

Intimidating brass heralds the beginning of the next track, then moving into a “prepare-for-battle” march. Suddenly a choir and violins enter, and the track turns into their usual symphonic metal with the addition of guitars and drums. Liv’s angelic opera vocals take a deeper tone in the verse, while being higher in the chorus. Unfortunately, I can’t get into the chorus as much as I’d like to, which is disappointing. The arrangement, however, is perfect, especially the threatening brass throughout. Still a strong start to the album.

3. Fountain Of My Pleasure

Fountain Of My Pleasure begins with a story-telling atmosphere, with whispered English by Liv (she’s fairly good actually). The verse removes guitars for a bit and just uses synths and drums, which brings out a lovely relaxing feel. But same as the last song, I feel the chorus isn’t quite there. There are some nice Celtic influences occasionally that perk me up a bit though. The song isn’t too bad but not great either.

4. And Forever More (feat. Kee Marcello)

This song should have been so much better. It’s kind of a power-ballad-duet between Liv and Kee Marcello from Europe (I’ve never heard their work before). It starts well, with Liv singing to acoustic guitar, before Kee comes in to the electric guitar. But when they sing together, they don’t sync at all. Liv pretty much drowns Kee out, and Liv has huge vibrato while Kee has none.I’m blaming Liv for this one – she’s clearly the better singer so she should have put in some effort to make their voices match. Or maybe they should have chosen a better singer than Kee. I actually love all aspects of the song except the vocals, so if they had changed that up I would have rated it a lot higher.

5. Black Fairy

A fast and exciting violin melody serves as the introduction for Black Fairy, and it continues as the rest of the band enters. The pace steps down at the verse, which also has a strong strings presence along with Liv’s heavenly voice. I really like the chorus to this song – it comes across all relaxing and I love the “kiss me”. The only poor section is the guitar solo because of how thin the lead guitar sounds (this is actually a problem with almost every song on the album, not just this song). Overall though, a great song.

6. The End of the Beginning

And now we get to the title track. It starts with impressive trumpets and harp, but unfortunately the brass samples sound a little off. Following is a flurry of different ideas making up the introduction. Liv enters in the verse and sounds awesome, but then disaster strikes!  Suddenly her voice goes horrid and nasal, and the drums go bonkers and horribly over the top. The part afterwards sounds fantastic, luckily. In the middle of the song, there are some very low vocals, but Liv doesn’t sound that comfortable. Basically, this song is a hot mess. Just drop the “hot” part though.

7. Valhalla

Valhalla is an instrumental track, which starts in a dramatic fashion with a drum roll, piano and strings. Soon guitars enter for a metal touch, as strings work their magic against heavy guitar chords. Lead guitar writhes and forms a dark and powerful melody, and there is some almighty shredding too. Actually, it reminds me of Prophecy ~Gate of Steiner~ by Phantasm. Ok, the guitar could have a better sound, but overall it’s quite a cool interlude track.

8. Midsummer Eve

Midsummer Eve mixes folk with metal to create a certainly interesting combination. It starts slowly, with power chords from the guitars and quiet strings in the background. The chorus changes things up with pounding drums and an increase in speed, and I love the interplay between Liv and the backing vocals during the latter part. There’s also a synth solo before the guitar solo, which is a nice change. One of the better tracks on the album.

9. Hell

As the title would suggest, Hell is a darker and faster song than the other tracks on the album. Starting with light keys/synths against furious guitars, Liv sings the verse with a lower tone. This fits the mysterious atmosphere well. The chorus is higher and a little repetitive, but is also catchy and exciting. The two solos, keyboard and guitar, are also pretty cool, and the bridge is impressive and uses pipe organ in the background. One of my favourites from the album.

10. Kiri no Requiem

Kiri no Requiem begins with a long and epic introduction with pulsing strings accompanied by wind and brass, followed up by drums and a little electric guitar. The intro is long (1/4 of a 6+ minute track) but it provides a worthwhile set-up to the song. When the vocals come in, the tempo is slow and draws attention to Liv’s awesome voice. And she hits some really high notes in the chorus too. The guitar solo/bridge on Kiri no Requiem is also one of the band’s best. This is my favourite piece of the album, an epic song.

11. Land of Spirit

This track is just a short interlude. To a backing of strings, the bass guitar plays a lead melody while Liv ad libs vocals. Pretty much just a nice little piece in between.

12. Immortals

The foundation for Immortals is laid by a slow nylon string guitar melody which showcases the main theme of the song. From the soft opening, loud guitars and drums then take over the arrangement. Liv sings the whole song in English, and I’m quite liking her pronunciation in this one. It’s quite a catchy and fun song!

13. Oogon no Namida

Oogon no Namida is the second ballad of the album, but is handled much better than And Forever More. It’s slow, but keeps up the fire and spirit throughout. Starting with powerful guitars and brass, it becomes quieter with acoustic guitar arpeggios in the verse. Palm-muted power chords are added later. There’s an uplifting feel through the song, and Liv sounds nice and relaxed. I admit, I had forgotten this song before reviewing but it’s a good listen.

14. Voyage

The last track opens with some acoustic guitar strumming that evokes pictures of adventure and travelling, accompanied by a jaunty flute. The symphonic elements then reappear, and the vocals continue the theme of “voyage”. A third of the way in, there’s a violin solo, which sounds squeaky at times but cool. Funnily enough, Liv sometimes has an aggressive edge to her voice but quickly changes to calmer. It still fits the song buy is odd at times. Well, Voyage ends the album on a high!

LIV MOON’s fourth studio album was good, but I think they’ve done better. Of course, I love the operatic vocals, and the instrumentation and arrangement were rock-solid. But I wish they would fix up their guitars, making them heavier and not as thin on solos. There were a few duh tracks and quite a few good ones, but I’m really looking for more of those ones with the wow-factor. Still, I’ll be awaiting their next release!

Top Tracks:

  • Kiri no Requiem
  • Hell
  • Black Fairy
  • Voyage

Rating: 8/10

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