With four full-length albums and a notable guest appearance under her belt, Canadian singer Leah has been making waves lately with her distinctive other-worldly take on Celtic-inspired folk metal. Fresh off last year’s collaboration with Testament‘s Eric Peterson on the third Dragonlord album as well as her own album “The Quest,” the Vancouver-based siren quickly got cranking on a project that, in other hands, oft goes awry:
She decided to make a holiday album.
“I love to experiment with different genres,” Leah says. “The idea was to give it that magical atmosphere that we love, and give it a soundtrack.” She pauses before painting the mental picture her music aspires to depict: “I want it to feel like a medieval chapel. I want to see monks and choirs. It’s snowing outside, and we’re somewhere in the UK and there are ruins,” she wistfully portrays as if in reverie. She snaps back to reality. “It has a festive, holiday vibe, but I just wanted it to sound magical and enchanting, with a medieval Celtic twist to it.”
The resulting album, “Ancient Winter,” is the holiday album I’ve always wanted, and the one you never knew you needed. Despite the presence of three Christian hymns (including a rearranged Gregorian chant), Leah has managed to make a holiday album that’s neither saccharine-sweet nor grotesquely materialistic. Rather than resorting to songs about bells, baby Jesus, and a fat guy in a red suit, Leah has created a collection of songs that evoke the sound and spirit of winter. Smartly penning lyrics that honor the Christian tradition and setting them to the folk music often associated with pagan lore, “Ancient Winter” is a Christmas album that’s somehow both secular enough for the heathen, and pious enough for a church service. And to top it off, she recruited the help of Everon’s Oliver Philips, former Eluveitie badasses Anna Murphy and Shir-Ran Yinon, and even Nightwish piper Troy Donockley (formerly of the Celtic rock group Iona) to round out an already engaging album.
Leah graciously chatted with Sonic Perspectives Texas Bureau Chief Gonzalo Pozo on All Hallows’ Eve eve to discuss “Ancient Winter,” her origin story, the marketing savvy she regularly discusses on her own podcast, and the challenges of carving out a career in metal as a married mother of five. “Ancient Winter” is currently available for pre-order at this location.
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