I don’t often adore supergroups or special collaborations between artists; many times, these situations lead to a struggle for artistic control, and so the results can be disheveled and muddy. Sometimes, though, a collaboration comes along that makes total sense, and the results are crystal clear certainty. Such is the case with Eye of Melian. Their debut album is called Legends of Light, and it released on the summer solstice, June 21st.
Eye of Melian as a project is centered upon the partnership between Martijn Westerholt (Delain) and Johanna Kurkela (solo, Auri). With Delain beginning a new era of life with new faces, this is the sort of project I actually hoped Martijn would produce; with Johanna’s signature dreamy style of vocals, too, it just works. The project also includes Robin La Joy on lyrics and backing vocals, and Mikko P. Mustonen on orchestrations. Special guests appear here, too, including LEAH on one track, Troy Donockley on flutes and pipes, and Shir-Ran Yinon on violins and violas.
The style of music on this album is basically genre-less. It certainly bears resemblance to epic, cinematic music, but it is also dreamy with Celtic accents. Much of it could be called ambient, though there is more power and force in its sound than that adjective betrays. It isn’t pensive or thoughtful in pace, but it is somehow meaningful and deeply imbued with storytelling characteristics. It is something like Johanna’s other project, Auri, though this is the direction I had hoped they would take.
The music itself is mostly orchestral. There are no guitars here, though there are plenty of moments with rich woodwinds and stringed instruments. The orchestrations do sound produced, not performed, if you know what I mean, but that is normal for smaller projects. Anyways, imagine a gorgeous film score with punches of various instruments, ethereal vocals, and gentle percussive tremors: that is what this album offers.
I know that it won’t be for everyone. It doesn’t “rock” and it isn’t technical or highbrow. It is, however, gracious, quietly tumultuous, and absolutely beautiful. I love that it feels like a rich tapestry, and the idea of light certainly makes its way into every facet of its sound. It is airy, fantastical, and enchanting in all the best ways.
Legends of Light has 10 tracks, and they are all lovely. After finishing it the first couple times, I was struck by how simply and serenely elegant it truly is. I started it with some different expectations, but it soon won me over, and its sense of beauty and might was instilled like a memory in my mind. Everyone I’ve talked to who has heard it has the same comment: “That is such a beautiful album”.
My favorites are “Doorway of Light”, “Vita Nova”, “Under the Grey Sky”, “Everstrong”, “Light”, and “Rainfall”. I love how mighty and powerful the opener “Doorway of Light” feels, like an actual entrance to hovering divinity. “Vita Nova” was my absolute favorite the first few times I heard the album, mainly because it is the longest song and has the most time to build into something grand. It builds and builds into a towering finale of pure crystal and starlight. “Under the Grey Sky” is piano-led for the most part, and it has more in the way of Celtic influence. It is a joy.
“Everstrong” is one of the singles, and it is wonderful. It might have the most attractive, addictive chorus, and it feels like it has multiple extremely strong choruses, to boot. “Light” is the track with LEAH guesting: I really like her voice, so to hear Leah and Johanna emoting together is a real treat. Finally, and my favorite overall, is “Rainfall”. This track has various transitions, shifts in ambience, and maybe Johanna’s best vocals on the record. I love how it feels serene, but somehow urgent. I love the dynamic violins, and also how the song eases to the finish so tranquilly.
Eye of Melian is a successful collaboration, first and foremost. I haven’t heard two well-known artists mesh this well in a long time. They have produced a delightful record that speaks to my very soul, defying the stress and doubts with which we are all afflicted right now. There isn’t a moment on this record that lacks beauty and strength, and that is what I really needed right now.
Find Eye of Melian online: