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Honorary Collaborator
5 stars A fantastic metal album that has really grown on me!

Some of my readers may have realized that my attitude towards metal in general is a bit skeptic, since it is not a genre I dominate, nor really love. However, there are some bands and albums that really do something to me after some listens, and when that happens, believe me, I am more than happy. This sensation has returned with this album, so Leprous should be proud because before officially releasing their new album, they have already fans of it. Important to clarify that I've received it from Inside Out as a digital promo, that is why I already listened to it.

Leprous was actually an unknown name to me, my knowledge is actually pretty limited, I know they are from Norway and that have been together for more than six years. Also, that with the release of "Bilateral" they are reaching their third studio album, which I am sure, will be a complete success amongst metal and prog-metal fans. This album features ten songs which together make a total time of 58 minutes.

The first track is "Bilateral", a four-minute title-track which seems to start aggressive but actually offers a gradual progress. The voice is excellent, the potential and strength that the music suggests caught my attention since the first moments. Also, I like a lot the bass sound (all over the album) and the wonderful use of keyboards. This is a great opening theme.

"Forced Entry" is the longest song, reaching more than ten minutes length. It is an awesome track, full of colors, textures and emotions, also full of time and tempo changes that take you to different scenarios, without losing interest in any moment. The band here shows a deep creativity, so their compositional skills are clearly first-class, evidently. Both, the completely instrumental and the voice-led passages are great, one can truly enjoy and appreciate what the music offers, no matter if you are familiar and like metal or not.

"Restless" is a shorter track that starts slowly with nice guitars and vocals, and after a minute explodes giving a powerful sound, an angry scream accompanied by technical and skillful guitars. Despite it is a short song, the complexity shown here is evident, and wonderful. "Thorn" has a great drums sound, constant and always in the right moment. Complexity and technique does not really mean lack of feeling, and here you can prove it. A couple of aspects worth mentioning: one is that I am surprised with my tolerance regarding death or growling vocals, which I normally repel, here they appear in moments, but I like it; and the second is the brief (but rich) use of trumpet, which makes a pretty cool combination with the metal style.

Now, I've terribly fallen in love with "Mb. Indifferentia", a six-minute track that shows a different face of Leprous, at least for the first minutes. I love how the song is gradually progressing, adding different elements and creating wonderful atmospheres. All the instruments seems to be working for themselves, but at the same time all work for all, great bass lines, a soft guitar sound and constant drums, along with a delicate piano and wonderful vocals. After three minutes acoustic guitar appears and produces a different ambient; seconds later there is a moment I totally love, with only the drumsticks and a cool guitar that put me the image of a fresh place with water running. Now, the tranquility all of a sudden disappears and an explosive voice enters accompanied by an emotional and heavier sound. Honestly, this may be my most played song for the last two weeks. Amazing!

With "Waste of Air" the band returns to their powerful, fast and technical sound. It can be listened since the very first drums note and of course in the running of the track itself. I am still surprised with myself, because I really tolerate the death vocals, which are more evident here. The keyboard sound is hypnotizing, and the aggressiveness implemented here will surely make you move your head. Here a detail, the bass sound reminded me of Magma, curious, and I don't really know if Leprous know those French proggrers, but I had to say it.

"Mediocrity Wins" has a softer sound, with nice synth effects as background, cool bass slaps and a different (and not my favorite) vocal style at first. After two minutes the normal voice returns and with his emotional tune produces different sensations. It is great to appreciate how in just a few minutes the band manage to morph in several occasions and how they put a vast amount of elements in their music.

"Cryptogenic Desires" is the shortest composition here. The keyboards remind me a bit of Riverside, and the music in general can be linked to acts such as Opeth or Enslaved. This is a nice powerful short song. "Acquired Taste" starts with piano, drums and vocals, later bass and guitars join and together start building up an interesting structure that little by little progresses until reaching a climax. Once again, the vocal work is outstanding.

And finally "Painful Detour" gives us eight last minutes of this excellent album. Fast drums and guitars complemented with the lead guitar, opening the gates to the powerful voice and the other instruments. It is great to see the song's inner (and several) changes without breaking the structure, I mean, you can listen to several mini-songs and enjoying each one of them, but at the same time linking them in order to create that body, that full-length track. This is an excellent track that finishes an excellent album.

I am still surprised with the effect that Bilateral caused on me, and I love it. This will surely be an album easy-to-love by progressive metal fans. My final grade will be 5 stars.

Enjoy it!

Report this review (#490985)
Posted Tuesday, July 26, 2011 | Review Permalink
Conor Fynes
5 stars 'Bilateral' - Leprous (9/10)

2009 saw the Norwegian band Leprous enjoyed some underground success with 'Tall Poppy Syndrome', an album that impressed me somewhat, but rose to the tops of many prog metalheads' year-end lists. Suffice to say, I was not able to fully jump on the hype bandwagon for Leprous back then, seeing their music as maybe a little cheesy and being proggy for prog's sake. Nonetheless, I was made very aware of the band's immense potential from that album, and I figured that it would only be a matter of time before these Norwegians released something that would blow me away. Sure enough, come 2011 they finally have made an album that places them among the frontrunners of the new wave of progressive metal.

'Bilateral' may be something of a tough pill to swallow for those that most enjoyed 'Tall Poppy Syndrome', but for me, Leprous seems to have addressed all of the problems I had with them before, while retaining their good qualities. The most evident development for them has been largely in terms of ambition; what they are willing to do with their sound. There have been some steps taken toward a more sporadic style. The songwriting is more packed with ideas, some of them quite experimental and unexpected, although the memorable melodic component of Leprous is not toned down at all. 'Bilateral' is quite a bit to take in all at once, and I am finding that it is very much a 'grower' album; the constant flow of ideas can make it a little disorienting at first, and while the flow between these ideas can sometimes be a tad off-putting, the sheer excellence of the melodies and newfound weirdness makes Leprous all the more interesting of a listen.

As one might judge even by the surreal album cover (whose artist is also known for composing some of The Mars Volta's artwork), Leprous is not afraid to try new things. The title track contrasts remarkably layered vocal hooks with a mellow section of deep electronics. 'Painful Detour' is a slower, powerful song that gives the 'epic' impression of Muse as it hits its climax. 'Thorn' even shows the band's friend Ihsahn (from classic black metal act Emperor) doing a quick vocal cameo before letting a trumpet solo pop up for a moment. All of these things come as a huge surprise at first. While I would say at this point that Leprous has found their own sound with this album, they do remind me of a younger Pain of Salvation here, in the sense that they are a prog metal band that is focusing more on emotional impact and surprises rather than the sort of power-metal derivative that many newer prog metal bands go for. The Pain of Salvation comparison hits its peak with the vocal technique of Einar Solberg, whose diverse vocal register and complex ad-libbing accents his performance in a way that really reminds me of Dan Gildenlow.

'Bilateral' shows that even if the melodic side of prog metal has withered in recent years, there are still ways of making it sound progressive without falling into all of the prog pitfalls. Leprous still isn't completely fargone from the genre, but they have taken some adventurous steps here that really see my respect for them as a band skyrocket. 'Bilateral' is one of the few masterpieces of progressive metal that I have thus heard in 2011, and being very much of a 'grower' album, I can only see it holding its ground as the year grinds on.

Report this review (#491342)
Posted Thursday, July 28, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars Leprous is a new name to me in the Norwegian band flora, but they have released two highly rated albums before this album. It seems like this album is breaking them big time.

Leprous is blending in a lot of outside influences into their progressive metal. Everything from Abba to other pop music bands to some cheesy Las Vegas crooning stuff to symph prog and eclectic prog. The base is prog metal, but the pizza filling is everything else.

The vocals is mainly clear vocals as in the Muse vocalist..... whatever his name. Then they also include some death grunts and death metal blasting as textures now and then. And Muse, what little I have heard by them, is a good reference. The sound is full of details and texture. The soundscape is big and bigger than a metropolis. Big is best, the motto seems to be. Then again, this music is pretty innovative and impressive too.

I am not a big fan of this music and remains sceptical. But I gladly admit that what Leprous does is probably symphonic prog post 2000 and symphonic prog without any Genesis/Yes/Camel connotations. That has to be applauded. OK, they are still metal, but I understand where their logic.

I repeat; I am not a fan of this music.... normally, that is. But it is very obvious this album has qualities you will rarely find on other albums. It takes a bit time to get into the music on this album. But it is a sign of quality that several melody lines is working around in my head. It is therefore an infectious album. Hence it is a great album from a band who will break out of the underground and go big with this album. Recommended to those who think symphonic prog died in 1979.

4 stars

Report this review (#503790)
Posted Tuesday, August 16, 2011 | Review Permalink
5 stars King Crimson, Dream Theater, Pain Of Salvation, The Mars Volta, Faith No More, Devin Townsend, Opeth, Porcupine Tree, Post Rock, Tech/Extreme, Metal, Jazz, Experimental, heavy rock, etc... How can you fit everything that influenced you in nearly an hour? And be genuine, something new? And keep a solid song structure? And really prove that you are an exceptional musician with bright future? And deliver a weird, multi-layered but most of all progressive album? And in the future your name will be mentioned as an influence, in a list like the above? And ... and .. and ...

Well say no more, these guys from Norway did it. You get polyrhythms (lots of that, trust me), melodies, growls, smooth parts, heaviness, craziness. Each track is in a different category but the good thing is that all have the bands signature. After the first spin you will wonder "What was that?". A couple more and you will be hooked, fiddling on the details of each song.

All the reviews mention the great work of the band's vocalist. I can't argue with that, it is an astonishing performance. Apart from that I can only add that I am in awe of the rhythm section. Impressive work!

In the search of Album of Year 2011 this one takes a different approach. The balance of avant-guarde / mainstream music in this is pure gold and this is something that we need in prog. So, for this reason only, 5 stars and my respect.

Report this review (#513068)
Posted Friday, September 2, 2011 | Review Permalink
2 stars There has been too much impact with this Leprous album.

This is not a bad album of tech extreme prog metal.

Specially may be could be good album if you haven,y listened works of Devin Townsend,Unexpect,Mars Volta and Opeth(some Anathema and KC maybe too)

But if you have listened to works of that bands ...mmmm....żis this something really new (in sound)and to be near a masterpiece?...I really have doubts.

This is(in my opinion) only another modern tech extreme prog metal album...but nothing to be particularly distracted with....

Praising so much this kind of works is not doing a favour to prog rock....and will be a temptation to the apparitions of many bands imitating the bands i have mentioned above ...and more than a support to the art rock will be more a support to commerce of rock.

So i am a little fed up with this new bands and their works.

2.5 stars

Report this review (#523894)
Posted Thursday, September 15, 2011 | Review Permalink
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 Ă?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.

Report this review (#531950)
Posted Sunday, September 25, 2011 | Review Permalink
Prog Metal Team
4 stars After being blown away by their debut 'Tall Poppy Syndrome', this was a much anticipated album for 2011. And I must say that I'm not disappointed. Leprous built further on their songwriting and playing strengths, and also dropped their extreme vocals almost entirely, which I find a wise choice in their case.

Leprous are probably the most exciting thing in prog metal since a long long time. I may prefer Riverside but Leprous dares to cover more ground, with keyboards that avoid traditional neo and prog metal cliches in favor of a more modern approach. The keyboards are maybe comparable to Porcupine Tree's Barbieri, who also favors texture and original sounds above the usual twiedeliwiedelie keyboard runs. So far with the Porcupine Tree references, as the guitars, drums and vocals are far more metal and more prog then Porcupine Tree. The sound is fuller, heavier and more metallic, and vocalist Solberg just has the perfect voice. Could I compare him to a cross of Daniel Gildenglow with that guy from Haken? Something along those lines maybe.

The masterpiece of the album is the 10 minute 'Forced Entry', one of the few tracks to feature prominent screaming during the finale. But its built up so strongly that even the most sever clean-vocals purist should admit how this makes sense here. The remainder of the tracks are shorter but always keep an element of surprising, twisting known song formats inside out and spicing everything up with everything that can be expected from prog metal, such as haphazard time-signatures, scenic songwriting and over-the-top theatricality.

Leprous is a unique band that succeeds in marrying the attractions of classic prog metal with a fresh approach that is aggressive and modern, avoiding both the cliches and the cheese, and remaining entirely fascinating throughout the entire album. I'm pretty sure this is one of the best Prog Metal albums of recent years. 4.5 with an option to rise higher over time.

Report this review (#556998)
Posted Tuesday, October 25, 2011 | Review Permalink
3 stars Updated review - August 2017

I was quite excited with this album when i first purchased it on release, at that time it had been one of the first albums i'd ever pre-ordered. The sophomore release, Tall Poppy Syndrome, was a great album that had introduced me to the band thanks to this website. A short time after discovering the band, this album was soon to be released and my expectations were set high. At the time, i believed that this album had met those expectations, but that was quite a long time ago. I've listened to this album every now and again since then and recently I've given it a real consideration on just how good it really is. At the time i found the album revolutionary, albeit a bit weird and inaccessible. This was mainly due to some of the dance-beat (almost Fallout Boy-like) songs that exist in this strange pseudo-metal album. Really, i think is the least accessible album in their discography thus far. My current issue with this album now is that it is only a sum of its' parts, and i don't mean that as a compliment. Most of the songs just aren't that memorable standing on their own. As a cohesive unit this album holds together well, but run-time as a whole could have been trimmed down some. I get that there are some great ideas here, but they overstay their welcome most of the time with not much room to breathe as the dynamic ranges and tempos don't change all too much from song to song.

On the year this album was released it was an important artistic contribution to experimental prog metal, as well as a chance for the band to step out and try something different. What ultimately came of it, in hindsight, is a little hard to swallow and i find myself enjoying it less now that the novelty of it all has worn off.

As an aside, i find it funny that most of the other reviewers on this site when it first reviewed the album (and gave it a 5 star rating) said that the album was a 'grower', but i myself found that over the years I've actually found it less likable. And, those that rate it more recently feel the same way that i do now.

3.5 Stars.

Report this review (#557722)
Posted Thursday, October 27, 2011 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Probably the most accessible and melodic example of 'tech-extreme metal' (if in fact this album can still be categorized as such) I've heard since NEGURA BUNGET's 2006 masterpiece, "Om." The songs are theatric--at times stage-like--and the lyrics quite comprehensible (with out crib sheet) and sung at a pace more akin to QUEEN or A PERFECT CIRCLE, instead of the frenetic psycho-pace of UNEXPECT. I am enjoying this album ten times more than Tall Poppy Syndrome--though I appreciated the skill and freshness of the latter. I still feel the fresh and unusual approach to song delivery of this band--and the skill of the performers-- especially Einar's vocals. A strong four stars--perhaps even in line for some recognition for Top 10 of 2011 status.
Report this review (#558756)
Posted Friday, October 28, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars 8/10

Thanks to "Bilateral", Leprous is now one of the most original, creative, and artistic metal bands out there.

"Tall Poppy Syndrome" was considered one of the best albums of 2009, and fans were expecting something maybe not as emotional and overall able to surpass it. I wasn't exactly in love with the sophomore LP, but there were moments in it that completely amazed me. But it is with "Bilateral", their third album, that I fell in love with Leprous.

"Tall Poppy Syndrome" was a pretty mature album, that showed the talent of the band and gave them a pretty distinct style. With "Bilateral", they reach a new level: they are now one of the most innovating, creative, and artistic metal bands out there. More experimentation, more synths that accompany the music, an Einar Soldberg that has never sounded so powerful and emotional ( some times he actually sounds a bit like Jonathan Davis), more complex rhythms, which often include several time changes. Overall there's a much wilder and visceral feel, and the progressive elements are very highlighted, not only in the keyboards, but also in the structure of the songs, despite being generally shorter; they're much more dense with music than "Tall Poppy Syndrome" and they never seem like they are running out of ideas, while in the previous album it felt like so in a few points, just for the sake of making the song longer.

If there is one thing that Leprous stands out for, that is songwriting: there are so many unbelievably well done hooks in here, and always they are strengthened by Einar's voice, that I can't stop praising. The album is extremely solid, and contains a lot of variety as well: there are powerful songs with some quirky arrangements, softer, utterly emotional ones, more jazz influenced tracks, and so on. It is a great collection of prog metal gems, each one in its one way. The ten minutes of "Forced Entry" is the magnum opus of the band, amazingly structured and containing an unbelievable, breathtaking vocal performance. The opening title track is another great moment, a perfect introduction for the album, a sort of prologue to all the things that will soon be heard. The three songs in the middle of the album, the incredible climax of "Mb. Indifferentia", the aggressive yet very provocative "Waste Of Air", and the building tension of "Mediocrity Wins" make an amazingly solid trilogy together. "Cryptogenic Desires" a paranoid but fun short track, the final two songs are both overall calm and don't have much of a climax, but once again have a great emotive force, especially the finale, the eight minute "Painful Detour".

"Bilateral" takes prog metal and bends it with originality, creativity, and amazing musicianship. An album that basically redefines the genre as we know it, and would possibly become a classic for the years to come.

Report this review (#559423)
Posted Saturday, October 29, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars Leprous' unique brand of extreme progressive metal took listeners by storm with 2009's Tall Poppy Syndrome, and Bilateral proves that these Norwegian lads are far from slowing down. On their third album, Leprous expands even further upon the foundation set by their first two releases, resulting in an album that is both entirely unique and still distinctly their own. Bilateral is a mature, innovative, and simply breathtaking tour de force of modern progressive metal; this is the sort of album that is bound to amaze any open minded fan of progressive metal. Bilateral took quite a few listens to 'click' with me, but its genius songwriting and ambitious attitude does eventually shine through in a brilliant way. Anyone who thinks that modern progressive metal only consists of copycats and clones better take a listen to Leprous - these guys have the goods!

While Leprous is best described as progressive metal (which is, admittedly, the best tag I can come up with too), you'll find much more than you may have bargained for on Bilateral. Throughout the album, I hear touches of symphonic progressive rock, technical metal, avant-garde metal in the vein of Mr. Bungle, quirky prog rock a la Gentle Giant, Faith No More-inspired funky metal, and even various styles of jazz. This is an eclectic and one-of-a-kind album for sure, and the first thing that springs to mind when discussing Bilateral is probably the early works of Swedish prog metal act Pain of Salvation - while Leprous is certainly more wacky and unpredictable than Daniel Gildenlöw's brainchild, their influence does shine in the vocal harmonies and sheer eclecticism of this release. Bilateral is also rather dependent on (somewhat) short and compact compositions, rather than long and drawn-out epics. Each of the songs moves extremely fast, so it can definitely take a few listens before Bilateral's genius begins to unravel. Once it does, though, it's hard for me to think of this as anything but an absolutely stunning observation. Factor in the top-notch musicianship and crystal-clear production, and it looks like we have a winner across the board!

Bilateral is a very different album from Tall Poppy Syndrome, but I'm sure it will have just as much (if not more) of an impact on prog metal fans worldwide. One look at various review sites across the web, and it appears that my prediction is pretty accurate. Leprous have crafted a great album on nearly every front with Bilateral, and even though it does feel a bit disjointed from time to time, this is one of 2011's highlights if you're interested in unique and modern progressive metal. 4 stars and a very high recommendation are deserved.

Report this review (#577701)
Posted Monday, November 28, 2011 | Review Permalink
5 stars WOW, this is the album of the year for me. I have listened to this album once or twice a week, since, BILATERAL, was released. I can't get enough of this album. Leprous have shocked me. I liked, Tall Poppy Syndrome, but BILATERAL is an absolute Masterpiece. Very few album over the last few years deserve a Five Star, IMO. Everything is Flawless on this album, but man does Einar Solberg steal the show, he has a set of pipes. Vocalist of the year. Playing/Touring with Ihashn must have sparked a fire in the members of Leprous. Every song is a Highlight. That is why I believe this is a FIVE star album. Progressive Avant Garde Rock/Metal at it's finest.

Report this review (#583456)
Posted Tuesday, December 6, 2011 | Review Permalink
Post/Math Rock Team
2 stars Oh boy. I decided to check out this album since it was so highly rated and is already in some people's best of 2011 lists. I really wish I didn't. Leprous are a metal band from Norway. Notice I did not use the terms 'prog' or 'tech/extreme' in that sentence. This would be a great album if it was released in 1992. This music is hardly what I would consider 'prog.' It's not very technical and it sure as hell is not extreme...extremely melodic maybe? A lot of this album reminds me of both hair metal and Dream Theater (who themselves remind me of hair metal at times). There are parts of Bilateral which make me think of Motley Crue and Winger. I'm not even slightly joking. The first song reminded me of Dragonforce! There is really nothing new going on here that wasn't being done in metal 15 years ago. There is a song here called "Mediocrity Wins" and that just about sums up this album for me.

A Muse influence is present. The singer (and also keyboardist) sometimes sounds like Matthew Bellamy and sometimes does some wimpy death growls. "Forced Entry" is over 10 minutes long but is very accessible and doesn't require such a length. I actually like the song "Restless"...but it ain't prog. Very Muse infuenced with disco style drumming during the chorus (and what would prog be without disco beats and choruses?). The sax in "Thorn" was the first thing to catch my attention the first time I heard Bilateral, but it's still just an average metal song. I like the sound of the electric piano in "Mb. Indifferentia" but the song itself is just a mediocre ballad; not very metal or proggy.

"Waste Of Air" is the only track here that really grabbed me at first. If the whole album was on the level of this song I might have a higher opinion of it. Good inventive guitar playing in the middle. The most technical, extreme and proggy song here. The vocals during the verses of "Mediocrity Wins" sound quasi-rapped over Mellotron-like sounds. Some slap bass here. Gets more Muse sounding later. Bilateral is for prog fans who don't really like prog. Y'know, the kind that like their prog proggy but not too proggy, thank you. Are all the people who gave this album 5 stars still going to think this is a "masterpiece of progressive rock" in 10 years? I wonder if they were confused and thought they were posting a review on MMA instead? There is a lot of great forward-thinking modern prog out there (some of it free download!) but many will ignore that stuff and praise cliche metal such as this. I'm wondering if the new definition of prog is: 'Not consistently heavy enough for metal; too complex for indie.'

The only thing this has going for it is the really great album cover artwork. This has probably the best album cover I have seen for a 2011 release (although I certainly have not seen every album cover for every release this year). And maaaaaan, that artwork does not fit the music at all. This is recommended to those who want to play it safe. If you want great original modern prog music, look elsewhere. 2 stars. Fans only.

Report this review (#595792)
Posted Sunday, December 25, 2011 | Review Permalink
3 stars Lackadaisical...

2011 has generally been excellent year for the various forms of progressive metal, but Bilateral was one of the big disappointments. Leprous' previous release 'Tall Poppy Syndrome' is comparable to raspberry and pistachio flavoured ice cream, genuinely delicious but with a bit of a strange aftertaste. Bilateral is that same ice cream but now it's been dropped on the floor and is starting to melt. I really don't hear anything new here, and with fewer stand-out tracks, it's a bit of a step backward for the band.

Whenever I listen to this album I'm always thinking two things. Firstly I'm hoping that this will be the listen that Bilateral finally starts growing on me, and secondly, I'm considering all the other albums I'd rather be spending this hour with. I've really been quite patient with it, but alas, to no avail. That said, the musicianship of Leprous is tighter than ever, and tracks like Mediocrity Wins and Painful Detour make sure this is still a solid release.

The Verdict: Below expectations.

Report this review (#596362)
Posted Monday, December 26, 2011 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
3 stars The most common comment about this album seem to be that it's a grower. And I have to agree with that statement as I didn't even like it after one listen. Well after about 7 listens I do appreciate it a lot more but I still don't like the vocals, and instrumentally i'm far from being impressed. I'm in the minority though as many seem to be blown away by this latest release from this Norwegian Metal band.

"Bilateral" has this epic intro then it settles in with vocals. Not a fan of the multi-sounding vocals here and elsewhere. The song kicks in and out throughout. "Forced Entry" has an interesting intro then it settles with vocals. Riffs and higher pitched vocals follow. Some nice drumwork 2 1/2 minutes in. Reserved vocals a minute later then it kicks in at 4 1/2 minutes as themes are repeated. "Restless" has this beat as vocal melodies join in then vocals. It kicks in at a minute. Multi-vocals later. "Thorn" has a strange sounding intro then a beat with keys takes over. Vocals follow. It's fuller after 1 1/2 minutes. Somewhat growly vocals from guest Ihsahn after 3 minutes then guest trumpet.

"MB Indifferentia" is a laid back tune with reserved vocals. It turns more passionate late. "Waste Of Air" kicks in right away with double bass drumming then rough vocals. Great sound after 2 minutes when the vocals stop. They're back 3 1/2 minutes in. "Mediocrity Wins" is very proggy because it seems to have it all even a rap-like section. "Cryptogenic Desires" is catchy with a beat and almost spoken vocals, then it kicks in as contrasts continue. "Acquired Taste" opens with piano and desperate sounding vocals as it builds. It continues to shift though. I like the instrumental ending. "Painful Detour" is by far my favourite track. I really enjoy this and can't help but think of how good a whole album like this would be.

A good album but it just doesn't do a lot for my tastes.

Report this review (#606092)
Posted Monday, January 9, 2012 | Review Permalink
5 stars Sometimes, a person finds an album that seems to be tailored to their exact musical tastes. Sometimes, a person falls in love with an album that fits their current mood. And sometimes, a band just knows what they are doing. The aforementioned person is me. The band is Leprous.

I'm quite familiar with the "popular" and "less popular" progressive rock and metal bands from the last forty or so years, so I have a pretty good idea what to expect when I acquire a something new. But "Bilateral" caught me off guard. I have never heard an album quite like this one; I'm having trouble comparing Leprous to any other band in my library. Perhaps the bastard child of Between the Buried and Me and Korn? I don't know, my comparison is just as ridiculous as any others I've read, and I've read some comments/reviews that were way off basis. I find myself asking all too often, did that person listen to the same album I did?

In three words, Leprous is heavy, melodic, and emotional. It is difficult for me to fit them into a genre. Prog? Sure. Metal? Eh, kinda, but they don't follow the traditional metal structure. Unfortunately distorted guitars alone do not qualify a band as metal. Tech/extreme? There is nothing overly technical or extreme about this album. The songs rely too much on layering, building, and clean vocals.

In my opinion, the vocals are the driving force of this album. The guitar solos are few and far between; the ones that do make an appearance leave wank at the door. They tend to sneak up on you, and build up to the next vocal entrance. Each instrument creates a nice layer, and together the band members create a progressive atmosphere quite unlike any I have heard before, which is surprising considering how much power chord chugging they implement.

The writing in this album is nothing less than stellar. Leprous doesn't dwell on any passage too long, which is apparent in their relatively short songs (at the very least, I didn't get bored). They found a way to take all of the goodness from prog, remove some of its unnecessary complexity, and compact it into ten 4-10 minute tracks. They know when to stay on a decent riff, when to add another layer, when to suavely bring you to the climax, when to hit you over the head with an epic chorus, and how to bring you back down to a state of how the hell did they just weave that intricate web of awesome. Among the plethora of power chords and chugging that I've heard in quite possibly every modern band, this band has an additional sense of depth and simplicity that is unparalleled in my experience.

While I do highly recommend "Bilateral", it seems to be hit or miss with most people. It's probably my album of the year, thus tilted from 9/10 to 5 stars.

Report this review (#620322)
Posted Thursday, January 26, 2012 | Review Permalink
3 stars State of the Prog Metal Status Quo in 2011

First, the cover. Topless she-demon swimming in a pitcher of lemonade torturing a half- naked, leather clad victim riding an anteater??? The mushroom forest in the background might give a clue about where the inspiration for this strange doodle-scene came from, but what does this have to do with the music at all? Similar to the band's name, previous cover, and album names, this head scratcher art points to a band that really hasn't quite found their identity. There are some extremely promising bits and pieces but it just doesn't gel yet. One might think that this was a psychedelic metal outfit, or something truly experimental. Instead, we get a very solid bit of the various takes on prog metal thrown into the stewpot and tastily cooked. A satisfying dish, but very familiar ingredients that don't leave any specific impression.

I do like this album better than the debut TALL POPPY SYNDROME. The band takes more chances, adds more texture, and integrates some ideas they didn't use before. The best song, to this listener, is the epic "Forced Entry," which has Riverside-like intense dark melancholy, down-tuned riffing, and a nice emotional contour that rises and falls without every wearing out its welcome. "Thorn" features a vocal by Ihsahn, which actually highlights the weakness of Solberg's harsh vocals. The heavy sections of this song are delightfully nasty, almost as if the black metal patriarch had made some songwriting suggestions. The black influence also is evident on "Waste of Air" and its tremolo picked intro theme, and rasp-voice.

Overall, Leprous is probably most akin to fellow prog metal wunderkind Haken. Where Haken still has some flavors of Dream Theater, Leprous borrows from more extreme prog like Enslaved, and juxtaposers like Shaolin Death Squad. But both have over-emoted clean vocals as their focal point, ultra-modern production and instrumental tones, and a lack of true originality.

This is another of those 3.5 star albums that will be rounded down. There are some really great passages on this disc, and there are some simply boring stretches. Solid stuff but probably nothing I'll be reaching for in 3 years.

Report this review (#628660)
Posted Wednesday, February 8, 2012 | Review Permalink
5 stars Impressive!! The norwege band as done it again. The follow up after Tall Poppy Sindrome is just a music evolution tha is stuning track after track. They use a formula that I would like Opeth to use. Less growling and more clean vocals. Forced Entry is by far in my opinion the best track in the album. Restless is a more comercial oriented track, The there is the heaviest track Waste Of Air, the awesome bass played track Mediocrity Wins, the epic Acquired Taste and fantastic tracks like Cryptogenic Desires, Painful Detour turn this an addicted album and in my opinion is Leprous masterpiece.
Report this review (#629257)
Posted Thursday, February 9, 2012 | Review Permalink
4 stars Acquiring the taste.

I am not on the heavy side of prog, so at first I was a bit afraid to listen to this album. But I am glad I did. Of course, the album is a bit heavy, but not so heavy as exptected. What makes 'Bilateral' fascinating is the sophisticated composition of the songs, with their well thought over intros, the structuring within the songs that fit well, their change of tempo and dynamics, mellow piano interludes, and overall good arrangement of the instruments.

Most of the vocals are clear and even amazing virtuosic singing. It reminds me, not in timbre, but in style of Deep Purple's Ian Gillan. I sincerely hope that Leprous' singer does not damage his vocal chords like Gillan did. Somewhere, on 'Thorn', you can hear a bit growling (it seems, that no artist of the tech/extreme genre may afford to avoid it). Normally I am annoyed by growling, but here it fits very well in the atmosphere of the song.

'Thorn' is also the song, which contains a trumpet! Apart from that, the instrumentation is quite conventional with guitars, bass, drums and keyboards, but the trumpet gives the album and additional exotic touch. Overall, the not very distorted guitars often play nice melodic chordal breaks or delicated riffs.

If there is one thing I'd like to criticize, then it is, that I wished that the drums would play a bit more independently from the bass. The drums plays too much along the bass lines and sounds sometimes a bit uninspiring. Otherwise this album would be perfect.

My personal favourites are Mb.Indifferentia, and, fitting to my attitude to this album, Acquired Taste.

Report this review (#941412)
Posted Tuesday, April 9, 2013 | Review Permalink
Italian Prog Specialist
4 stars Remarkably appetizing progressive metal.

As nothing more than an occasional dabbler in the metal part of the prog spectrum, Bilateral is a tantalizing mix of all things great about it, while avoiding the (for me) less digestible bits. A clever concoction of atmospheric and emotional Riverside-ian soundscapes, dry, speedy and precise tech riffing, outstanding gritty and sticky heaviness and a clear, but never overwhelming or excessive melodiousness, this is an eclectic and elegant sampler of many of the sounds the genre has to offer. Without other comparisons intended, I even hear touches of the animated, jittery energy of post-hardcore now and then. Vocally, it's quite a diverse effort as well. Ranging from soothing and clear beauty to harsh screaming and near-growl territory, often in rich, emotive and layered arrangements, there's something for everyone here.

But Leprous are more than just adroit combiners of styles. The song-writing is top-notch, fusing these parts into complete pieces of music that never feel contrived or forced. As such, disparate influences seep into each other both admirably and seamlessly making the end result feel fresh and rather creative when all things are said and done. Moody, urban "emo-psych" synthesizer atmospheres, classic organ sounds and inventive, modern electronics of more alternative rock and metal gladly and successfully intertwine with disciplined and aggressive guitar textures and brutish, sluggish riffs. When presented with a fair bit of symphonic sensibility, an emphasis on texture, gifted use of hooks and a peevish unpredictability both in song-writing and in sound detail (why not some jazzy trumpet here and some funky bass there?), you end with a crisp and tight yet bombastic grandeur that I find myself strangely and surprisingly enamoured by.

Dynamics are outstanding and both individual songs and the album ebbs and flows musically and emotionally. It's a vivacious and soaring journey through Porcupine-ish atmospheric melancholy all the way to blistering double bass drum onslaught. From the tender and melodic to the dirty and brutal. And as so often when these kind of fusions are presented to me as a listener, it's the way it melts away boundaries and makes it all feel natural that really seals the deal. You could certainly argue that most of what is done on Bilateral has been done before and in purer form and that the band is simply playing it safe in a prog metal no-one's land, but that is doing yourself a disservice. If you like me stand ambivalent to both the more traditional prog metal as well as the more extreme expressions of the genre, this is exquisite stuff. And that's just the icing on the cake to be honest. Bilateral is a great album on its own. And that's what truly matters.

Not really what I usually fall for, but Leprous are, apparently, doing things right.

Quality and craft.

4 stars.


Report this review (#965308)
Posted Sunday, May 26, 2013 | Review Permalink
3 stars Bilateral by Leprous finds the band diversifying their sound, presenting an album which runs the full range of progressive metal from almost-commercial to downright esoteric. With its eclectic stylings revealing the band's truly encyclopedic command of metal styles from Dream Theater to Mr Bungle, it's an excellent showcase for the technical abilities of the group, but equally the compositions seem to have a depth to them that suggests they are more than mere pedestals to showcase some guitar riffing or keyboard solos the band are particularly proud of. Incorporating all of these influences into one album is a challenge in itself; making them all feel like they naturally belong there is a masterstroke which Leprous are able to manage, but unfortunately not quite consistently enough to put Bilateral in the top tier of their releases.
Report this review (#1123691)
Posted Wednesday, January 29, 2014 | Review Permalink
4 stars Norway's Leprous are tough to pigeon-hole, but tech/extreme is a lesser part of their identity. Some songs follow the catchy prog metal a la Dreamtheater template so common these days. Others remind of textured alternative rock with its fragile-to-powerful dynamic. And then there are traces of their extreme metal origins, with occasional blast beats, dissonant atmospherics and screaming vocals tearing thru the proceedings. In short, they are diverse enough to be worth a listen, but not consistent and don't hold enough surprises (if you don't count extreme metal suddenly, and often irritatingly, punctuating otherwise normal songs) to be great. Or perhaps the problem is a lack of identity at all. Because sometimes it feels like the only thing reminding this is the same band is the impressively ranged vocal of Einar Solberg.
Report this review (#1136565)
Posted Monday, February 24, 2014 | Review Permalink
5 stars The Scream

Bilateral is a shining example in the most literal of terms. As an avid music listener and someone who writes for and about many new artists, I will regularly get questions from bands who have released a debut about how they can improve their sound. And for those that released 'good-to-decent' debuts, I can normally give good advice, and avoiding the sophomore slump is not such an issue. It's the bands who release stellar debuts that I have a hard time giving advice to, and they have a hard time releasing something past their debut.

Of all the great debuts that there have been, I really can't think of a single band who has topped their first album. I find that bands will either slowly build up to their best work from a weaker first couple of albums (see Porcupine Tree, Anathema, Opeth), or they will release a phenomenal debut that already has a distinctive sound, and fail to repeat it over and over again (see The Mars Volta, The Reign of Kindo, Dead Letter Circus, even Dream Theater if we forget about When Dream and Day Unite). Leprous, with Bilateral, are the only band in the entire world that, to my knowledge, have avoided this.

Of course, I guess I should point out that perhaps the reason Leprous topped Tall Poppy Syndrome is because they are not part of the latter group, but the former, because I'm ignoring Aeolia in my equation. And yeah, I guess the fact that Aeolia was a full-length demo and actually housed some pretty decent tracks means that it was their debut as opposed to Tall Poppy Syndrome, but still think the feat remains, because Tall Poppy Syndrome was treated as a debut. When Leprous exploded onto the prog metal scene, everyone just called it their debut and gave the same sort of praise that a debut of that calibre would gain. So the feat remains. When you release a breakthrough album that gets praise about its uniqueness and character, it can be extremely difficult to try and capture those same fans, whilst at the same time moving forward and creating a different album, while at the same time keeping the musicality and composition the same level.

The impossible truth is that Bilateral somehow sounds like the same Leprous that produced Tall Poppy Syndrome, yet it is also a completely different record. On first listen, you'll hear it and go "yeah, this sounds like Leprous", but after a while, and a bit of comparison, you realise how different it is to Tall Poppy Syndrome. The most obvious difference here is the absence of Einar Solberg's delicious and incredibly intricate piano. Those who know me know that piano is my favourite instrument by a good length, and I will always praise a band for its use, especially in the context of rock or metal music. So weird then, to think that with the amazing piano on Tall Poppy Syndrome, and its near complete absence on Bilateral, that I believe this album to be the superior. But to be honest, I didn't even notice. I didn't finish this album and go "oh damn, where are the awesome piano parts", and in fact I didn't even notice for a good time, until Coal was released and the piano returned. There are brief appearances here during "Acquired Taste" and "Painful Detour", but nothing compared to the lengthy solos or dominating rhythm parts on its predecessor. And the reason I didn't notice the piano here is simple ? because the melodies and performances from the other instruments are just too good.

The second track here, "Forced Entry" is undeniably Leprous' best song yet, and is generally one of the best prog metal epics I have ever heard, especially in the second half. The song begins with a rather angular and weird riff, but soon breaks into a fantastically catchy groove, pushing 4/4 time to its extreme limits until it's basically not recognisable. The song's chorus drives the energy even further up, which is possibly the reason this is such a brilliant piece of composition, because of the way the energy is kept alive for ten minutes. Within just four minutes, the band have strung together multiple melodies that are all stellar on their own, from the epic "rest in peace" to Einar's falsetto "help me survive", and yet together, these pieces make for something truly exceptional.

But as much as the first half creates a ton of energy and runs through a good number of melodies and motifs, it's the second half that really kills me. After a short break and a light keyboard part, the band strike an absolutely awesome 7/4 groove, possibly the best I have ever heard in that signature, and Einar pulls out some of the best vocal melodies he has done over the top. It really impresses me how all of these lines are in some variant of 7, changing each bar and keeping in line with the odd rhythm. Sounding this natural in an odd signature is something that really impresses me in prog metal, something that bands like Dream Theater have never managed. This part of the song has Einar panting out some rather strange and disturbing lyrics ? my friends and I once joked that "Forced Entry" was a rape analogy, but after we proceeded to read the lyrics, it really didn't seem like a distant possibility. The lyrics scream of obsession and addiction, and although some of the lines may be calm, in context they are quite disturbing, "Bring me home, shut the door, send me a glimpse of the future once more. Settle down, go to rest, sit back, relax?."




What the hell was that?


Is he making that with his mouth?

The sound that Einar Solberg makes at 8:43 in "Forced Entry" is the greatest noise ever made by a human. This is a fact.

I have yet to find someone who has not been impressed by The Scream. Even people with basically no knowledge of music and no enjoyment of metal were impressed, and I use it as pure evidence toward my case proving Einar Solberg as the best vocalist in the planet. It's so raw, yet so stunningly pitched. It's in a range that is neither falsetto nor standard, it both has pitch and has none. I managed to get it once, or at least I believed I did, by drinking a massive amount of coffee and blocking the back of my throat with phlegm to create a second diaphragm. It's like a falsetto note with masses of vibrato, done in a black metal scream fashion. Actually, it's unlike anything I have ever heard, and trying to explain with words is pointless. My point is that it is phenomenal, and the cherry on top of one of the best songs ever written. Or is it just?

I love the way that after The Scream, it just goes straight back in. Back to that fantastic bridge verse, back to that fantastic groove. The energy I mentioned before has quadrupled; the song is now so full of it that it has its own gravitational field. I love the way that Einar amps up the intensity in the second part though, somehow topping the first. He sings the awesome "knowing how long you've made me wait" line with such brilliant finesse, perfectly stressing the slide at the end, building up until?

It happens again.

And it's bigger.

Ok, ok, scratch that, this is the best one. The second scream. So often, when I was first getting into this record, I completely forgot about this part, because The Scream just seems like the logical climax, and this took me completely by surprise. I remember when I was very small, we used to draw graphs of the 'intensity' of a novel or short story, so we would know what a climax was and what a denouement was and all that stuff. If this song was drawn on one of those (very scientific) graphs, The Scream would bring it to the other side of the room, and The Second Scream would punch a hole in the wall and continue the scale out to halfway across the damn ocean. It's the cherry on top of another cake that is sitting on top of the previous cherry from the previous cake. By the time the opening riff comes flying in to finish the song, I'm out of breath. Hell, I'm out of breath just writing this, and I'm currently in a biology lecture.

But The Scream is not the only reason Bilateral tops its predecessor. Sure, Einar has found his ground as the best vocalist on the planet, which is concrete evidence of this album's achievement, but there is the not-so-concrete evidence of the band's songwriting stepping up as well. As I have said, I should prefer Tall Poppy Syndrome, given my boner for piano (especially piano-heavy metal music), but this album trumps it in nearly every way with its composition.

Take a track like "MB Indifferentia", and its counterpoint on the previous album, "Fate". It's clear these track are linked in their lack of harsh vocals, in their rock-centric musicianship, and jazz- influenced verses, as well as Einar's use of falsetto. "Fate" was one of the weaker songs on the debut, but still contained a blistering midsection, great solos, and an obviously stellar performance from Einar. But on MB Indifferentia, everything is turned up to 11. While the song is far more linear than Fate, and is missing the epic midsection, it makes up to it fully with the biggest climax you can imagine (if you pretend that Forced Entry didn't exist). Einar belts the wonderful melody he sung so solemnly earlier in full look-how-much-better-I-am chest voice range, reaching far above what us normal folk could ever dream of hitting without falsetto. It is more or less the best melody they have come up with ? solemn when it needs to be, yet epic and grandiose in the finale. And to top it all off, The Scream returns, for one last bow. I'll admit though, there's a minute or so in the first half that could have been cut, and the entire song could do with a bit of trimming, structure-wise, but everything is forgiven by the final minute.

But it's not just the two outstanding songs here that show improvement. Nearly half of the songs here are better than the best song on Tall Poppy Syndrome, with my next favourites being the closing duo of "Acquired Taste" and "Painful Detour". The former is the only track to have the piano of the debut throughout, and gains its high position from the absolutely beautiful chorus melody (especially in its final rendition), whereas the latter gains its praise from being just plain awesome. Calling back the previous album's "White", it holds great energy throughout the track, utilizing one of the catchiest choruses the band have created, and even features some nice doubling of sax and falsetto vocals in the bridge, but the track really reaches its stride with the blistering ending to the bridge, with Einar reprising The Scream once again over a wall off intense double kicks.

Although I really do not wish to bore everyone by going through every track on this record, I should give a mention to "Waste of Air", or more specifically, how it nearly ruins the album for me. It's not a bad song, but every time it comes on, especially following such a fantastic track as Mb Indifferentia, I let out a massive sigh of "oh not this bitch again", before settling down to tolerate it for five and a half minutes. I guess there's something kinda cool about a random section of blast beats, and the bridge has a very weird 17/16 vocal part that Einar dominates, but on the whole, the album would be better without it. The only other track that I'm not a huge fan of is the opening title track, but it does its job in introducing the album and building into Forced Entry, so it is forgiven. "Mediocrity Wins" is also an interesting track, although not necessarily bad or great. Its main point of interest is the 7/8 beat poem/rap that Einar does in the verses, which is just another vocal style to his repertoire, and it's especially impressive when he layers it with some of his semi-harsh screams on top.

Bilateral is the peak of Leprous' career, and it one of the best records in progressive metal, full stop. It still has flaws, and is certainly not perfect, but the combination of the ambitious and unique style with stellar songwriting with Einar's newfound ability to create such a fantastic noise make this a modern classic in every sense of the word. Despite this, I honestly would not recommend starting here with Leprous ? Tall Poppy Syndrome is a more accessible record, and I also believe everyone should hear Leprous' marvelous feat in topping that record, something that is still nearly unheard of in music (to me, at least).


Originally written for my Facebook page/blog:

Report this review (#1174655)
Posted Monday, May 12, 2014 | Review Permalink
1 stars Appreciation of music is a very subjective thing as we all know. Norway's Leprous are regarding as a rising star of progressive metal. I purchased their album Bilateral when it was released in 2011 thinking that as it was on the Inside Out label it would be a quality piece of music. How wrong I was!!!

Over one third of reviewers have give this a five star rating. But how anybody could consider Bilateral to be a masterpiece is beyond my comprehension. Listening to this is a thoroughly unpleasant experience, the aural equivalent of a visit to the dentist. Prog metal would not be my favourite genre but I do like some of it and I have a soft spot for Devin Townsend but I cant find any redeeming qualities in this album. There is a bit of a Townsend influence on some of the tracks but they lack the melody of his compositions.

The musicianship is fine but the some of the tracks are a mishmash of ideas. I hate the vocals especially when they descend into growling/screeching.

The title of track 6 "Waste of Air" sums the album up perfectly, or to borrow a phrase from the late John Peel its "a waste of electricity".

Track 9 is "Acquired Taste", no matter how long I listen to this I can't acquire a taste for it, but if I do then take me out and shoot me please.

One star is being generous.

p.s. I do like the album cover.

Report this review (#1261752)
Posted Wednesday, August 27, 2014 | Review Permalink
5 stars "Bilateral" is the second studio album by the Norwegian metal act Leprous.

I have to say, I'm not a huge fan of the progressive metal genre. There is just something about it that I can't really explain, it just prevents me from really getting into it.

However, I love everything about this band.

Unlike other bands (which I can express some sort of distaste for), this band has done nothing that I really dislike. In fact, most of their releases are perfect, especially this and their most recent album, "Coal". I know a ton of people really like "Tall Poppy Syndrome", but honestly the album didn't really affect me as much as "Bilateral". It could be from the fact that the track 'Acquired Taste' was the first piece of music I heard from the band. I instantly fell in love with it and it's parent album.

One of the things I love about Leprous is the way they can shift and change their music in such a creative way, that their more unique than most bands I can name. This album really expresses that.

While most Leprous tracks are seven to eight minutes, the tracks on "Bilateral" range from three minutes to six minutes. I feel that instead of having an entire album dedicated to long epics, short(er) songs give way for more creative input. Each track has more time put into it and less filler to take up space on it. Even when they do have a longer track on this album, it is done well. The longest track, 'Forced Entry', is pretty great in the way of vocals and instrumental value. Two great songs that are favorites of mine are the previously mentioned 'Acquired Taste', and the titled track 'Bilateral'. Both are great songs and I highly recommend them for anyone wanting to get into Leprous.

One thing I'm totally thankful for is the removal of the constant screaming that was highly present in "Tall Poppy Syndrome", along with now absent organ. Now it's in the right place and actually sounds good.

Anyways, I totally recommend either this for anyone who wants to listen to a great progressive metal band like Leprous.

Go give it a listen.

(Originally written for the Metal Music Archives on 2014-10-22)

Report this review (#1326109)
Posted Thursday, December 18, 2014 | Review Permalink

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