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Leprous - Bilateral CD (album) cover

BILATERAL

Leprous

 

Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

3.90 | 463 ratings

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Zitro
Prog Reviewer
4 stars Varied Entertaining Metal Album but Beware of Harsh Vocals

Bilateral can be described as very technical instrumentation with complex rhythms yet balanced out by memorable vocal melodies from their excellent vocalist. The musical influences are more noticeable compared to later releases, reminding listeners of various progressive metal bands at times, yet managing to have an identity of its own. Bilateral is experimental, very unpredictable, and surprisingly well-structured. The songs have a personality of their own and are thus very easy to tell apart, with clearly distinct musical components and recognizable vocal melodies. It caught me by surprise however that harsh vocals (growls) are scattered throughout the album and are generally not very pleasing to the ear. Given that the singer is capable of singing during heavy sections with a rougher voice, I do not think these harsh vocals are necessary at all and lessens the impact of the album for I predict many listeners.

The title track is a great introduction. Upbeat hard rock with very catchy vocal melodies and shifting time signatures. It has an excellent instrumental break led by synthesizers and syncopated guitar riffs. The dynamic 10-minute 'Forced Entry' is a highlight of the album. It begins with a strange synthesizer riff backed by heavy metal, then introduces four distinct vocal themes in just about 1 minute. The song continues introducing new themes and recalling earlier musical passages without losing its coherence and has a fitting epic finale.

'Restless' has a jazzy foundation and is overall a more accessible brief composition with recognizable vocal themes meant to be earworms. The aforementioned growls of Restless are out of place (the music is simply not heavy enough to need them) and sound a bit comical to me. The growls become most noticeable in 'Thorn' and 'Waste of Air', which is a shame as both have very unique instrumental ideas in them, particularly the trumpet usage in Thorn and the industrial synthesizer-driven middle section of 'Waste of Air' that has to be heard to be believed. The growls are particularly irritating in 'Thorn' as they appear to be done by another vocalist.

As a contrast 'Mb Indifferentia' is a very atmospheric ballad with a psychedelic feel and serene vocals that slowly builds into a massive ending with great vocal harmonies.

'Mediocrity Wins' is a very different song led by slap bass and vocal chants reminiscent of rap music in its verses, contrasted by soaring vocal melodies associated with its choruses. The verses turn into death metal (with harsh vocals) briefly halfway through the song but fortunately last less than 20 seconds. 'Cryptogenic Desires' has a quirky metal sound at times and is very dynamic for its short length. Growls are also present here but they seem to fit in better.

'Acquired Taste' has a more muted sound at times, continues the odd time signatures but alternates them with pretty basic 4/4 guitar passages and catchy melodies. Polyrhythms and odd time signatures make a glorious comeback in its excellent last minute.

'Painful Detour' continues the varied odd time signature metal riffing and comes closer to the unpredictable sound of 'Forced Entry'. There is a haunting extended section with ambient wordless vocalizations, juxtaposed against a gradually building metal sound. This is one of the strongest sections in the album.

The inventiveness of the song structures, usage of keyboards, highly memorable and pleasing vocal melodies, and the consistently incredible musicianship make this an attractive album for a listener that wants to break away from the monotony of mainstream heavy music. As previously mentioned, be aware of the growls - they frequently do not match the instrumentation and may work against the enjoyment of the album, even if less than 10% of the album is associated with them.

4.5 to 5-star songs: *Forced Entry*, Bilateral, Mb Indiferrentia, Acquired Taste 3.5 star songs to 4 star songs: Painful Detour, Mediocricy Wins, Restless 2.5 to 3 star songs: Waste of Air, Cryptogenic Desires Songs I dislike: Thorn

Zitro | 4/5 |

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