CDs: Leaf - Circle of Ways
By Mark Hensch
Someone should clarify something for me.
Either Eddie Vedder (of Pearl Jam fame) has been kidnapped and forced to
play as indy rock outfit Leaf's frontman, or good old Eddie has a intelligent
and potentially radio friendly experimental metal band.
Upon hearing these guys (Leaf), it becomes
apparent that they have a lot going for them. Besides the fact their lead
singer sounds like one of the most popular and revered frontmen of the
entire 1990's (and daresay beyond) to an exact match, the band itself plays
catchy, emotional, and interesting progressive metal that is either light
and airy or crushingly tight and heavy.
Opening track "Impressions" is really uncharacteristic
of the band's sound; it is a quiet instrumental piece that uses swirling
effects and tribal drum beats. It's cool, but people hearing it for the
first time will like what's coming next a whole lot better.
"Breakable" rolls in perfectly after that
intro with a quiet guitar part, before breaking out in some nice, solid,
and meaty guitar riffs. I've never been too much of a Vedder fan, but the
Leaf frontman's voice is refreshingly soothing for a metal leaning act,
and it sounds urgent and powerful.
Title track "Circle of Ways" starts with
some grungy and quiet guitar parts before going ape with some start-stop
riffing that is again processed, seamless, and sonically perfect.
"Swimming" showcases the screaming talents
of their vocalists, more ambient to grungy metal riffs, and sounds like
an unholy matrimony of angry Pearl Jam and older Incubus.
"81" a really sweet intro that is swirling
and epic in texture; it sets the mood for what becomes one of the strongest
tracks on this CD.
"Floatin" comes in with empty soundscapes
and echoing, lonely instrumentation. A subtle guitar piece that is one
of the album's coolest is defeated only by the awesome solo in the previous
song. This is another great song despite the fact it's instrumental.
"Burned Eyes" is another good, strong,
progressive guitar laden song.
"Changin" is yet another highlight with
it's great vocals and top-notch riffing.
"Not Enough" is at first a quieter song
that later gains some of the band's typical ambient heavyness.
"Stolen Childhood" is a heart-on-the-sleave
ballad that again later showcases some excellent guitar riffs.
"Thank You" swirls in with some goofy effects
and then breaks out in a catchy melody.
"Inside Me" sounds a lot like oldschool
Incubus at first, and closing track "Temple of Love" is a creepy little
ambient metal song that has some catchy female vocals dueling with the
Vedderish frontman's own vocals and tight riffing alternated with some
This is an interesting CD. Picture the
best elements of nu-metal, prog, ambience, industrial, and the voice of
Eddie Vedder combined, and you might be closer to understanding the nirvana
of Leaf. It makes for compelling music, and more importantly, interesting
music. There are some excellent screams on this album too, which hints
at a screamo, metal, or maybe even hardcore influence for one of the band
members. All in all, this CD was a lot of fun and I would highly recommend
Circle of Ways
3. Circle of Ways
7. Burned Eyes
9. Not Enough
10. Stolen Childhood
11. Inside Me
12. Thank You
13. Temple of Love
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