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Album Review: Leah – The Quest

A diverse and intriguing blend of Celtic folkmetal, orchestral arrangements and progressive rock.

As an artist, Leah is absolutely one of a kind. To some a genius, to others, a wildcard. She is not exactly the type that sits around, waiting for others to notice her music and give her opportunities. In fact, she has been a staunch DIY proponent throughout the scope of her career, thinking really outside the lines. You could say Leah’s metal, with a punk rock approach.

Instead of following the usual carousel of touring, using a corporate label to promote, as well as building up a strong social media following, she started her own label and set out to release and promote her own tracks to her own channels. This might sound quite crazy for any artist at any level, but the craziest thing of all is…it actually worked out for Leah, since her music has achieved somewhat of a cult status on the music scene.

Leah certainly has a massive amount of talent, and even more importantly, the ability to create a genuine connection with the audience. As an artist Leah is all about combining progressive rock elements with hints of traditional symphonic metal and Celtic/folk music. The result is a blend of sound that feels dynamic and refreshingly eclectic, leaving the listeners on the edge of their seats at each twist and turn.

While Leah handles vocal duties, plays keys and comes up with orchestral arrangements for the tracks, she has enlisted a star-studded cast of musicians for this release. The line-up that appear on this record is absolutely outstanding, featuring exceptional musicians the likes of Troy Donockley (Nighwish) as well as Barend Courbois (Blind Guardian),  and Sander Zoer (Known for their work with Delain) as well as Chen Balbus (Orphaned Land).

The album features a wide range of instruments, ranging from the usual suspects of rock music (guitars, bass, drums, keys…) to really intriguing layers of world and folk instruments, including Saz & Oud, pipes, flutes, and more. As the title of this album implies, “The Quest” is a really ambitious studio process, and it doesn’t shy away from its ambitious nature as a release.

Leah is all about setting the bar higher with each and every release, and in order to do so, she really surrounds herself with some of the most talented musicians available to her. Although she has a lot of creative and artistic control, obviously, you can tell that she isn’t the typo of micro-manager who is sitting behind everyone, dictating what to play and what to do. The individuality of each musician really transpires in this particular release, and you can really tell that Leah allowed a bit of free range for these fantastic artists to express themselves and leave their very unique imprint on this release.

In addition to the excellent performance value, it is worth mentioning the excellent sound production. Mixing and mastering engineer Jacob hansen (known for his work with Volbeat, Amaranthe and Evergrey) set out to create an effortlessly balanced mix, where every instrument has enough room to really stand out. The drums and percussion elements are huge and highly cinematic, while the electric guitars are thick and present. In addition to that, the bass tones are thunderous, yet also very nuances, allowing the dynamics of each song to move in a very “musical” way, for lack of a better expression!

The folk instruments fit into the mix perfectly, at times standing out as the most important sound, at times serving as a hint of extra color that adds to the personality of the tracks. On top of it all, Leah’s vocal performances are absolutely outstanding. Her tone is wide-ranging and theatrical, with a strong flair for storytelling, but never failing to deliver some good hooks. Speaking of production, if you are the kind of person who loves to geek out on recording sessions, and “making of” videos, you are in luck, because Leah released a really extensive documentary features, which documents the album’s gestation process, as well as shining a light on all of the musicians involved and the nature of the process.

She took fan interaction to the next level on this release, taking to crowd-funding in order to bring this project to launch. Leah started a campaign on Indiegogo, where fans could pledge or donate in order to support the albums release. At the time of this writing, Leah managed to cheerfully surpass her funding target: she received 151% of the funds she was seeking for the album, highlighting the overwhelmingly positive response and support of the audience. Crowdfunding might seem like a controversial choice to some people, but its actually a really great fit for Leah’s unique style and direct approach, suitable with the way she interacts with her fans.

Ultimately, “The Quest” stands out as yet another remarkable addition to Leah’s discography, and it falls in line with the unorthodox, yet extremely rewarding attitude of this unique artist. If you are a fan of folk metal, orchestral music and progressive rock, this album is a must pick up, as it features some of the perks of all of these aforementioned genres and more.

Although she is not really a part of the scene in the traditional sense, Leah stands out and her music has a cult-like, seminal overtone, which are contributing to the huge buzz around it and the positive receptions from fans and critics alike. When you have so much to give, and obviously let your passion lead the way, quality music is absolutely a no-brainer outcome.

The album, which features 10 original studio tracks, is going to be available in Europe and North America through Inner Wound Recordings, starting from October 5th, 2018. Do not miss out on “The Quest” as well as other releases from this mercurial artist:

Release Date: October 5th, 2018
Label:Inner Wound Records
Track Listing:
1. The Quest
2. Edge of Your Sword
3. Lion Arises
4. Heir
5. Ruins of Illusion
6. Labyrinth
7. Abyss
8. Oblivion (Between Two Worlds)
9. Ghost Upon a Throne
10. The Water Is Wide

Folk N' Metals recommended albums are for releases in the metal, and various fusion styles of metal subgenres, that we feel are essential. Albums awarded this badge are also top contenders for our "best of" end of the year list.
Folk N’ Metals recommended albums are for releases in the metal, and various fusion styles of metal subgenres, that we feel are essential. Albums awarded this badge are also top contenders for our “best of” end of the year list. To see all genres, check out our Recommended Albums

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