He has the operatic qualities of the best in the biz yet doesn't sound like he swallowed a cat or has had his male parts pinched in a vise-grip. The interplay of the instruments creating a larger than life melodic delivery is this band's major attribute and despite the album being a staggering hour plus affair, i don't lost interest in it no matter how many times i hear it and actually crave hearing it again.
While on paper one cannot state the reasons why LEPROUS is in a league above the competition, however it is utterly apparent when one listens to the meticulously designed unfolding of the tracks on board. Somehow everything is paced and placed in just the right ratios.
All elements present themselves in just the right proportions and the band has mastered the art of knowing when enough is enough and changing it up. For me the real beauty is how the individual parts of the tracks sound like they are so close to clashing and derailing the fragile beauty of the melodic flow but always somehow resolve themselves like a hero saving a damsel in distress being tied to the railroad tracks scenario. While this music can sound stilted and jarring for those used to a more straightforward approach of prog metal, for this who love those little "off" types of features that add tension and distress to their musical experience, then look no further than LEPROUS who once again proves they are on the top of their game putting some true "progressiveness" into their unique brand of prog metal.
Vocal harmonics, production, symphonic accompaniments and instrumental interplay all display themselves in perfect tandem for my tastes.
While most releases contain 11 tracks, there are some with a 12th track titled "Pixel" which is a bonus track on certain editions. IMHO this is not an essential track so don't worry if you skip it. I actually prefer my copy without despite being good. To be sure, there are many great things to be said about the record.
The music is largely if not entirely comprised of drums, bass, two electric guitars, some keyboards, and singer Einar Solberg's voice. There seems to me to very little in the way of overdubs and it occurred to me that there are next to no guitar solos, perhaps none at all. The musical arrangement sounds as if these boys were given an eight track recorder and told to try not to use the extra two tracks whenever possible.
Thus the sound is rather sparse with only the five instruments and the vocals, though in at least two songs a rougher, angrier voice comes in which seems to be a guest appearance by Ihsahn.
It's not just the lack of instruments or overdubs that make the music here sound sparse. It's also how the instruments are employed throughout the songs. There are many songs that include simple riffs where the chords are played out in short bursts at odd intervals. The drums are often the busiest instrument, keeping a lively pattern going while the guitars strike with these simple chords: da-daah-dum, da-daa, da-da, da-daah-dum.
The keyboards mostly provide atmosphere and sometimes play instead of the guitars so that with a simple bass and a roving drum pattern, the vocals float overtop a barely populated space. This works very well when listening to specific tracks, and for my money, the music reaches is best potential on "Rewind". There is unfortunately a negative aspect to the album's musical approach and that is that there isn't much else going on. I recognize that this may be exactly what the band were shooting for.
I read that they felt "Bilateral" was a little too all over the place in moods and they wanted "Coal" to be more focused and darker. Maybe they were trying to carry that on with "The Congregation". The album cover very well describes the feeling of the music inside. It's grey, there might be animal skulls, or possible some mutation or grafting. There might be a struggle and possibly a strong melancholy feel that needs overcoming.
It's possible to pick almost any two or three songs and get a good feel for the album because there is little variety in the music here. It sounds good and creative and interesting. But the formula gets stretched across the entire 11 tracks and the 12 track serving as a bonus track doesn't exactly throw anything new our way. If this were a new band with a tight budget, I's say they really worked their way around their restrictions.
As for what I actually have here before me, it's a great effort with some quality song-writing. I'd just prefer some other components present to help make a few more tracks really stand out for me. The end result is a substantially more accessible Leprous release than any other I've heard, but whilst it's a good entry point to their music, it's also a solid development of what's come before which will have something new to offer seasoned fans too.
Immaculate, Strict, Calculated Songwriting with Consistently Monochromatic Sound With 'Congregation' it appears clear Leprous distanced itself from several characteristics of progressive rock. The album is less spontaneous, no songs exceed 8 minutes, and there is a lost sense of musical exploration - focusing instead on maintaining a grey-scale mood throughout and blending metal influences with alternative rock.
The emphasis is on vocal hooks and a relatively frequent usage of rhythmically complex riffs. This approach makes this album more accessible than earlier albums as a listener does not have to process dramatically different styles of music. On the other hand, this approach is not preferred when an album is songs long - the songs start blending in and become harder to tell apart.
This is the one album where I feel the sum of the parts works better than the whole and no particular song order is necessary. Also note - there are 2 songs that have an entire section sang with harsh vocals.
The ratio of harsh to clean vocals continue decreasing. Describing songs by track would be redundant given the many similarities among them. Expect unorthodox rhythmic guitars in many of these songs.
Expect computerized keyboards to make an occasional presence during both upbeat and haunting sections alike - these synthesizers continue fitting in unusually well and I welcome their presence. Expect the drumming to be rawer and more tribal in nature. Definitively expect even catchier earworms compared to previous albums as they are not any more an element to their music - they songs are written around them.
If there is one song that sounds noticeably different than the rest, it is the very effective minimalistic closing track 'Lower'. What kind of highlights should you expect? It is not a surprise this is a fan favorite song given the strength of the vocal melodies and especially that mesmerizing and triumphant climax.
Speaking of 'Triumphant', the tribal rhythm, memorable guitar and vocal themes work together to the closest they might ever come to a sing along tune. It is easily my favorite track in this album and among my favorite songs of the genre. Harsh vocals make a presence, but are brief. Moon's varied percussion works really well at setting the mood, particularly the masterful second half utilizing the buildup compositional elements of their previous album with expertise.
The soundscapes continue being larger in scope with 'Down' though may not be as climatic to the album as a song like 'Rewind' or 'The Flood' is. The last song is a minimalistic ending. It is difficult for me to determine whether the fairly monotonous structure and mood of the album is a strength or a weakness, or both.
What the band has accomplished is a consistent set of high quality tracks that get burned into my memory. An incredible album to say the least, that for me, due to my love of this bands' particular brand of music is a masterpiece. Whether you agree or not is completely up to your tastes and preferences - but everyone's opinion is valid, and if someone else happens to match my tastes, they'll come to find that this album and the future of Leprous can seemingly do no wrong.
With this said, the more accessible yet grandiose sound of the album is established from the get go by The Price, with immediately powerful guitar work that quickly settles into rhythmic staccato, already displaying the extremely satisfying interplay between each element of the band, including the vocals.
As is the case with Leprous as a whole, the vocals are extremely dramatic and beautiful and act as an instrument along with the standard delivery, being able to both utilise vocalisations to provide additional depth to the more instrumentally focused passages, but then erupt and put some amazing power into other sections, Album) in this opening track.
These first few tracks on the whole show some of the more inspired aspects of the album, such as Third Law's absolutely incredible riffs that manage to carry such intensity, before shifting into the much steadier, more dramatic chorus, providing some great contrast while also working perfectly. Rewind is the first track to truly demonstrate one of the album's other strongest qualities however, the drumming, which while not necessarily the most complex or anything, has some of the most interesting drum patterns I've listened to, providing such a unique sound to the songs without ever feeling like a needlessly dominant force.
Rewind also manages to work as well as it does due to how nicely it progresses, the consistent drum rolls gradually becoming more structured throughout until it all clicks and falls into a really great groovethat complements the song perfectly. This is where the album begins to falter, LP The Flood, while very passionate and beautiful, Slave - Leprous - The Congregation (Vinyl, also feels like a step down from the previous 3 tracks, with its worst offense being how it is too long and begins to drag, the more intense moments doing very little until their climax being especially problematic as a result.
That said, there's still quite a bit of power present here and it ultimately still manages to be a good song, just one that has some serious flaws.
Triumphant is a far simpler song that goes for the more epic approach once again through the extremely dramatic vocals, and ends up working quite well, even if it feels a bit barebones. Similarly, Within My Fence also has a more simple approach to it, the difference being that it works exceptionally well here, with some really fun guitar work that manages to be one of the catchiest parts of the album, not to mention that the drumming here is really tightly played, with a lot of flair being packed into it and overall making the song far greater as a result.
This is where the album really begins to lose me however, but not because of the individual track quality, as this remains quite high throughout the album, it's just that it sounds like more of the same in a lot of places, and I feel like if the album were rearranged, I'd be finding similar complaints with the first 3 songs as I'm doing with Red.
While this song does differentiate itself to a degree with the greater focus on the kayboard, it still has a very similar dramatic feel to it and structure, making it feel somewhat insignificant despite being another well put together and powerful song. Slave has a similar problem, but somehwat redeems this by having a genuinely amazing chorus that gives this song a distinct point of interest, even though at this point there's definitely some fatigue setting in.
Moon marks the point where the album could have ended and I wouldn't have minded to such a degree, especially given that Moon is probably the best song here. For one, this is easily the best drumming on the album, keeping a very consistent pace, but throwing in a lot of stylish moments to really make it stand out.
This is also one of the few songs on the album that are genuinely compelling from an atmospheric standpoint, with the hints of piano and strings providing a different enough listening experience for me to really love this, especially once it hits the halfway point and becomes considerably more intense, despite having the same sort of problem of sounding overly clean and polished.
I feel that the final two songs have very similar problems to the rest of the album and end up being quite forgettable as a result of just wanting the album to end at this point, how while not bad at all, just don't do much as a result of being too much of the same sort of things we've been hearing for the last hour.
Overall, there's a lot to love in this album, but a lot wrong with it as well. The length combined with how similar a lot of these songs are in terms of sound and structure make this an album that drags on for way too long, making the latter half of the album feel very mediocre despite being full of songs that sound great when listened to in isolation. Another issue that further exacerbates this issue however is the fact that it all sounds too clean and polished, which does take a lot of the intensity away from the times where this album tries being heavy to the point where I cannot remember a single time in which harsh vocals were used effectively here.
Nonetheless, Leprous' direction here was an interesting turn, and while I don't really like this as much as their previous 3 albums, it still does show potential for something more interesting regardless, even if the final product here was underwhelming. Best tracks: The Price, Third Law, Rewind, Moon Weakest tracks: The Flood, Triumphant, Down, Lower Verdict: This is an album I find quite strange, as while I can say that I find the vast majority of these songs to be very well written and interesting to the point where I'd happily listen to a number of these songs individually, as a full package this misses the mark for sure.
It feels overblown with how long it is, and boring for how similar everything sounds, yet I'd still recommend giving this a listen in parts just to get a taste for the album, as I wouldn't recommen it in full, but it's definitely one that I get a fair amount of enjoyment despite rarely listening to it in full.
I felt incredibly disappointed after listening to this, as for me it does not stand up to the promise and quality of their earlier works. Even when a song such as 'Rewind' starts differently with long held-down keyboard chords the oncoming bass and drums warns the listener what is to burst forth in a minute. There is little in the way of solos, and one can easily imagine the band performing this as a unit as opposed to recording different instruments at different times.
But, there is an oppressive weight to the proceedings for me, and listening to this was far more of a chore than I ever expected it to me, although it has been widely appreciated by many others, and according to PA it is 14 in the charts for best album for so what do I know? My first impression of this album had me pretty excited. Leprous manage to create a unique enough sound to stand out amongst the plethora of metalcore-ish prog bands out there.
It should be pointed out that the Album) times I did listen to this album is was more as a background listen while doin Norway's progressive metal quintet, Leprous, have been in the spotlight for a number of years now since their sophomore breakthrough, Tall Poppy Syndrome, and thanks to their ability to renew their sound with each album, without repeating the same formula Album) and over again, their popularity is sti Continuing the evolution of their previous Coal album, they gradually replace their old stylings of mashing various metal sub-genres together wi This is one of the best Prog Metal albums I've heard so far.
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