Review on Leah’s “The Quest”

Review by Brian Kelman

“The concept for “The Quest” is very simple: we’re all on a journey, and sometimes we lose our way. There are adventures, wildernesses, treasures, monsters, looters, and people out to send us down the wrong path. Through it all, we must grow in wisdom and experience, find our compass once again and find our way back to the true path in order to reach our full potential: our destiny.” —Leah

“The Quest” represents a unique blend between Celtic folk and metal; unique in the sense that it is more folkish rather than the usual mix between orchestra and really heavy metal instrumentals thus producing a lush and soulful sound. This is heard in the interesting or original harmonies, arrangements and vocals on the album. This way of blending the unique sounds and arrangements injects a much needed ‘newness’ to a genre that in some quarters has become quite formulaic. I dare say that Leah is creating a new formula with “The Quest”.

The title track was definitely inspired by the fantasy video game Skyrim; the scenery, landscapes and story line. Fantasy themes abound and given that I’m a voracious reader of Fantasy Literature (Tolkien, Jordan, Modesitt, Jr., Buroker, Hair plus many more), “The Quest” makes for a perfect thematic accompaniment. Of the many adjectives I can use to describe them and this amazing sound track these seem most fitting: Epic, Atmospheric, Enchanting and Magical. Oh there’s more but those are at the forefront. I know your fertile imagination will personalize your list.

In the last three years there have been two albums that I’ve played over and over again. Tarja’s “The Shadow Self” (2016) played continuously at home and especially in my car’s disc player for a year (44 weeks out of 52 I reckon). Leaves’ Eyes “King of Kings” (2015) had a great five month virtual non-stop run, too. If the last two weeks are any indication, Leah’s “The Quest” is at the start of a similar epic run. Like the others, I awake in the middle of the night with the melody of one of the songs (“The Quest” or “Edge 0f Your Sword” melodies at first and now the vocal harmonies of “Abyss”) playing in my head. That isn’t to say they are the ‘best’ tracks on the album. The fact is that there isn’t a weak track on the album. Period! It is a fantastic trek from start to finish.

To accompany her enchanting vocals, Leah has assembled an impressive array of musicians and technicians in the making of the “The Quest”. The players are:

Leah McHenry—Original Music/Vocals/Keys/Orchestration
Troy Donockley (Nightwish)—Flutes and Pipes
Chen Balbus (Orpaned Land)—Saz & Oud
Barend Courbois (Blind Guardian)—Bass Guitar
Timo Somers (Delain)—Rhythm & Lead Guitars
Sander Zoer (ex-Delain)—Drums & Percussion
Beatrice Wissing—Violin (on ‘Ruins of Illusion’ and ‘Labyrinth’)

Oliver Philipps (Everon, Delain, etc.)—Producer/Arranger/Orchestration
Jacob Hansen ( Volbeat, Epica, Amarante, etc.)–Mixing & Mastering
Jan Yrlund (Tina Guo, Apocalyptica, Manowar, etc.)—Graphic Artist & Designer

Given their familiarity and skill playing and/or producing within the Symphonic Metal genre, in general, and given a creative freedom to do what they do best and put their own personal stamp on their contributions, in particular, the players high quality performance shines through.

If you are a fan of Symphonic Metal a la Nightwish, Delain, and Within Temptation, for example, then “The Quest” is right for you. Prepare yourself to take an uplifting, inspiring, positive journey of discovery with Leah and “The Quest”.

Overall Rating: 4.8/5

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