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Leprous - Bilateral CD (album) cover

BILATERAL

Leprous

 

Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

3.89 | 329 ratings

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AtomicCrimsonRush
Special Collaborator
Symphonic Team
4 stars A dynamic complex album with stunning song structures and musicianship. Leprous are new to me so I had no idea how this would sound. I liked it from the start to end. Some of the playing on this is stunning musicianship and the vocals in particular are dynamic. Each musician has a chance to really shine and it is innovative how the songs change time signatures without warning and keep the listener on the edge. The ever present metal riffing guitars pervade the album and there are moments of true ambient beauty. Here are the tracks as I heard them which should explain what to expect.

1. Bilateral - The album begins with a very strong fast beat, great layered vocals from Einar Solberg and melodic metal with powerful riffs. Nice clean vocals sound a bit like Muse and the song really jumps along driven by classic guitar riffs. One growl at the end signifies that there will be some of that too.

2. Forced Entry - Sheer bliss, with a weird time sig and effect with the guitars, blazing away. The feeling of a 70s psych prog band at first, Solberg's clean vocals are wonderfully executed. There are strange fast electronic pulsations under the veerse that slow out of sync, and then a strong steady beat for the melodic chorus reminding me of fates warning or Symphony X a bit. A nice high falsetto in the next section, incredible harmonies are strikingly similar to perhaps Pain of Salvation and then a death metal growl just to punctuate the dark atmosphere. The odd time sig on distorted guitar to follow is amazing, it is totally off kilter but is consistently so and works against the other instruments. The work of bassist Blomquist and drummer Andersen is a key feature. The Meshuggah rhythms stop and a spacey ethereal sound follows on harmonic guitar. Like the next part, "you will need me tonight," so what is this song about? "Take your time, I will give, I will give you mine, give me signs that I need to grow, rest in peace, let me connect to my shawl to your heart," really love the track, it is a mini epic that grinds along, "I fought my way," screams the vocals, and a divine lead break sliding up and down the scales augments the virtuoso musicianship. Great riffs follow from guitarists Tor Oddmund Suhrke and ?ystein Landsverk that are very chopped and fractured. The next part is like Riverside's ambience with threatening metal breaking through, and the vocals are estranged and filtered, "take my crime, see the sense of time". It gets extreme towards the end with very heavy guitars and a wall of sound made up of layered guitars and screeching vocals sung with incredible force. Highlight of the album and one you should check out.

3. Restless - This begins with a strange polyphonic rhythm and lots of nice harmonies. The vocals are really great, "render a purpose to be at peace, find out who you want to be". After this the track gets heavy with death growls and clean vocals trading off. It is never overdone though and the death growls are kind of part of the experience. I normally hate death growls but here the band only use them to show aggression every now and then, and it is never too much for the ears. The vocals are very well accomplished with a lot of mixing, layering voices over and merging together to create quite a strong presence.

4. Thorn - A horn that sounds like an Indian temple call blares out. Then a steady beat and guitar swells take over as the verses begin, about a beast, "eating his way from inside". The slow doomy feel is punctuated by the horn effects. The chorus is an infectious melody, I try to get to sleep but nothing gets me by, the thorn inside pushing me to lie, regret the future, regret the future today." The time sig changes and there is a quirky lead break from Landsverk and Suhrke. There are some very interesting riffs that stop and start and at times a chaotic time sig takes over. The instrumental break is an excellent blend of guitar, and synth. After some chilling vocals, a trumpet plays, then an extreme metal section with a death metal feel. It breaks and then an odd time sig plays out the rest of the song.

5. Mb. Indifferentia - This begins with weird synth notes and then an organ sound, like the 70s chimes in. Solberg's serene vocals take over with true beauty and some inspired high falsetto work. The guitars of Landsverk and Suhrke are peaceful, and the ambient atmosphere is augmented by the sweet lead guitar tones. Blonmquist's bass work is exemplary, and I love the way he keeps a rhythm while the guitars play a different melody. The spacey psychedelic feel is noteworthy too. This one reminds me of Riverside, and it even builds to a heavier feel towards the end, especially when Solberg screams, "do nothing at all!"

6. Waste Of Air - The heaviest track at first absolutely hammers along with extreme speed metal blasts and manic double kick drumming. It settles into a strong beat and death metal vocals that are overlaid with high and low growls together. A strange passage of synth and guitar chugging along follows. The spacey synth swirls are awesome against the machine gun riffing, sounding more industrial than the rest of the album is way heavier. This continues with a hypnotic repeated motif over a fast beat. Psychedelic style vocals break over and some dark low choral voice beneath. It builds to a heavier feel and a quirky melody. More death growls lurk around the next bend and the song even speeds up in rhythm with Slayeresque speed picking. The growls get more aggressive and though I am not a fan this is so diverse than the rest of the album it is startling.

7. Mediocrity Wins - While I am just getting over the hammer smashed onslaught of the last track, this one begins with electronica and sparkling synths generating ambience. Then a wall of sound of synths come in with some unusual overlaid spoken chants in rap style droning on one note. The rhythm is moderate with the electronic effects constant and some vocal intonations. The verses eventually begin with Muse like vocalisations hitting high notes and forced phrases. A distorted riff locks in with cryptic time sig meter, and then more aggressive growling chants begin. I am reminded of Tool for some of this or a darkwave style; "Sing the song with my own voice, take your place, mediocrity wins."

8. Cryptogenic Desires - The tight machine gun riffing begins and then short blasts of speed palm mute picking. The verses are quickly sung in rhythm with the guitars. It builds with aggressive screeches and then breaks into a quirky passage with chopping guitars and blastbeats of drum and bass at intervals.

9. Acquired Taste - A title that may explain the album, begins with piano and crystal clear breathy vocals from Solberg; "Enjoy the restrictions, be glad you can feel the sting, silent compassion won't lead to anything". The next part builds with consistent twanging guitars up the scale and Solberg very passionate on vocals that cry out from the soul. The next part is more like King Crimson's Fripp with fractured time sig; and stark melancholy vocals "stay in the cold you will see someone else will leave your mark, to be sold so you're free". One of the key features is the vocals that have an amazing range from low to the highest register. The lead break is terrific that follows, very emotive and soaring. It breaks to allow a piano to play a simple melody and end it.

10. Painful Detour - The last track features more odd time sig distorted riffing. The track clocks over 8 minutes and has a myriad of detours and twists and turns. The vocals are the same as last track, clean to high falsetto in choruses; "Time elapsing, storm running out, ready to doubt, hide from the open turning to stone." After the loud raucous chorus there is a break in the meter and the track shifts into beautiful passages of ambient passionate vocalisations. The guitars compete in battle with the ambience and a soundwave of off kilter drum patterns over a steady melody is a dissonant attack on the structure. It breaks into a rock steady beat and some delightful organ embellishments. The twin guitar playing over the synth is a highlight demonstrating the tension and release in Leprous' style.

To conclude this is an excellent album with some incredible musicianship. The inventiveness of the song structures and diverse approach to the music is refreshing. I can recommend this to those who like a heavier style of prog with loads of innovation and experimental nuances embedded within. It delivers on many levels, with complex, speed metal, dextrous guitar playing, and well executed vocals throughout.

AtomicCrimsonRush | 4/5 |

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