With their previous effort, Paranoid Circus, Lyriel knocked my socks off, easily beating off last year’s mid-year releases from Midnattsol and Leaves’ Eyes. Leverage  is their brand spanking new album and it’s sure sign that the band have no desire to let down their ever increasing following.

In pure comparison to the pseudo-prog, folkiness and gargantuan track listing of Paranoid Circus, Leverage clocks in at just over half an hour and is a much more contemporary mainstream effort. The Road Not Taken embraces the stark acoustic quiet and the gentle voice of Jessica Thierjung is warmly soothing as the cello wails in the back. For a band that is as straight-up rock as Lyriel it’s surprising for them to have such a seemingly obscure instrument as a full member, but it’s put to use in almost every track, including the hard and fast White Lilly.

Leverage certainly takes the band in a more commercial direction, taking them further away from their folks roots, even though it remains in snippets in the music and is certainly prevailing in particular songs. Whether or not it’s in Wenn die Engel fallen I will never know as I can’t speak German, but with such a bombastic ballad and a male/female duet I’m willing to assume it’s some stuff about angels and broken hearts with a smattering of leprechauns. They even manage to make spoken German sound semi-romantic in the chorus, which is something I thought I’d never see outside of soft-core pornography.

Leverage is certainly a good move for Lyriel, taking them down a more commercial road while maintaining their songwriting strengths. Perhaps it’s telling of the album length that it’s a style the band is settling into. Nevertheless, Leverage is a strong hard rock album and certainly doesn’t do Lyriel any injustices, but we all know that they can do better if they stick to their guns.