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Leprous - The Congregation CD (album) cover

THE CONGREGATION

Leprous

 

Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

4.04 | 478 ratings

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Zitro
Prog Reviewer
4 stars 4 1/3 star album

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 11-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. If you enjoy a song or two in youtube/spotify from this album, it is very likely you will enjoy nearly all others.

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? 'The Price' has highly intricate soft musicianship preceding the insanely catchy alternative rock choruses. 'Third Law' showcases high-pitch metal singing. 'Rewind' expertly blends in desperately fast bass, drums, and vocals with a hauntingly slow synthesizer theme, then builds and builds until it explores a death metal section that is suitable heavy for the agony displayed by the harsh vocals. 'The Flood' uses a 2-note riff (synth or distorted guitar) to build up anticipation towards much more interesting musical passages. 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. 'Red' makes the best usage of computerized synths, mind-bogglingly complex rhythmic foundations, and a hypnotic feel. It is easily my favorite track in this album and among my favorite songs of the genre. 'Slave' is a bleak song and recalls the nightmareish qualities of their previous album 'Coal', but retaining the stronger melody writing of this album. 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.

4.5 to 5 star songs: *Red*, Triumphant, Moon, The Flood, Rewind 3.5 to 4 star songs: The Price, Third Law, Slave, Down, Lower 2.5 to 3 star songs: Within the Fence

Zitro | 4/5 |

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