I’ve loved the legends of King Arthur since I was a kid. There was something that drew me to the magic, honor, and destiny in those stories. So, of course, I will pay attention when a band releases something in that genre. Leafblade recently released part 1 of their new Arthurian cycle. The album is called Merlin, Child of the Merrymoon, and it launched on September 2nd.
Leafblade is a bit of an enigma in my mind. They started life as a side project of Danny Cavanagh of Anathema, specifically with the purpose in mind of supporting the songwriting of Sean Jude. Danny left the project many years ago, and the band that remains is Sean Jude on vocals, guitars, and composition; and Thomas Legg on drums, percussion, and orchestrations. The only pictures of the band I could find also include Brian Cummins. I’m not sure if he is with the band still or not.
I say that Leafblade is an enigma also because of their musical style. They definitely have the spacey, atmospheric progressive side and they utilize plenty of folk sounds, but they also have a guitar-laden, almost metallic side. On top of that, their music is almost always fleeting and otherworldly, soaked in mystery and spirituality. They have only released four albums over the last decade or so, but all of them are like this. There is something innately ethereal about what they do.
This new album has more guitar, I think, than anything they’ve done. Lots of light riffing and rhythmic ideas are present, though I wouldn’t call it heavy or anything. Their previous album The Goddess With Child felt more keyboard-driven, but this one definitely has more rock in its veins.
I really like the thematic elements about Merlin as a child and the almost reverent and sacred air that permeates the album. Sometimes the rock elements don’t jive completely with those themes, in my opinion, but Sean’s voice always, always does. He has such a fluid, smooth voice that he smooths out any rough edges. For example, there are a couple songs that are a little repetitive, I suppose, but Sean really makes it work. Overall, though, I’m satisfied with what is presented here.
My favorite tracks are “The Fire in Mercury”, a great tune with a driving guitar lick and relaxing aura later on; “The Boy Who Chased the Deer”, which is structured the opposite way with a rich melody giving way to crunchy guitars; and “The Revelation”, a song full of bliss and light. I love “Waiting by a Teardrop”, too, even though Sean says “Merlin” about a thousand times in it. He smooths it out really well. “Vortigem’s Waning Star” is another favorite with its guitar-heavy sound and thoughtful melody.
Overall, this is a solid start to the series. Leafblade offers a rich combination of various genres and Sean’s tendency to splendor and warmth really helps this album deliver. I like what I’m hearing, and I’m interested in where they will go next.
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