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Leprous - Aeolia CD (album) cover

AEOLIA

Leprous

 

Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

3.72 | 64 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Conor Fynes
Prog Reviewer
3 stars 'Aeolia' - Leprous (6/10)

Since breaking onto the scene, Leprous has gone through a not-unnoticeable development in their sound. While I am not a huge fan of this earlier work, they blew me away with their third opus 'Bilateral', which came in as one of my top albums of the year. With Leprous now having become one of the most adventurous progressive metal acts out there today, it's interesting to see them at a more primitive stage in their development. All the same, 'Aeolia' has its share of fans and lovers; a group I am sadly not a part of. Attempting to reintroduce myself to the earlier work of this band in the hopes that my love for 'Bilateral' might sway me to the other side, but it hasn't happened. That's not to say that 'Aeolia' is a bad album, it has plenty of strengths. But even outside of its retrospective context and comparison with the masterpiece 'Bilateral', there are still some flimsy issues that keep me from calling this a great album.

As the backing band for former Emperor frontman Ihsahn, it can be taken for granted that Leprous are excellent musicians. Despite their youth, they are able to execute complex arrangements. 'Aeolia' sees Leprous following somewhat in the footsteps of Dream Theater, only without the same devotion to instrumental indulgence. What Leprous aims for is highly vocal-driven progressive metal, something they still aspire to today, in some regards. As the vocals are arguably the most important aspect of Leprous at this point, it should be noted that Einar Solberg has an excellent voice, and is able to pull off some jaw- dropping vocal acrobatics, without losing any of the emotional intensity.

Halvor Strand's jazzy bass lines also stand out as one of 'Aeolia's better aspects. In short, it would be difficult for just about anyone to say bad things about the way Leprous plays. The band's performance is largely what holds 'Aeolia' together. Although this is a full-length, it is described on the band's website as a 'demo', and rightly so; it has a very muffled production, often to the point where the warmth and detail of the guitar performances are obscured. 'Aeolia' is certainly listenable in regards to the sound quality, but it totally lacks the studio dynamic I would hear even on their second album, 'Tall Poppy Syndrome'.

Of course, everything about an album boils down to the composition and songwriting. With 'Aeolia', it is something of a double-edged sword. Most of the musical concepts here have plenty of potential, and some of Einar's vocal melodies are almost painfully catchy to listen to (the chorus of 'Black Stains' will testify to this). Where 'Aeolia' goes wrong, however, is its predictability. Once the layout of Leprous' music is digested, it becomes easy to tell where melodies, ideas, or even entire songs are going to go, long before they're done. Perhaps it doesn't help that the production dulls the range of sound, but the dynamics in these songs feels bland. Paired with an inconsistent flow and unsteady use of ideas, 'Aeolia' comes across as being an album with plenty of potential, but misses its mark.

Conor Fynes | 3/5 |

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