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Leprous - Pitfalls CD (album) cover

PITFALLS

Leprous

Tech/Extreme Prog Metal


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4 stars Pitfalls is indeed the lighest and most accessible album from Leprous, where the use of heavy guitars are very ocasional and the priority is textures, catchy choruses and Trip Hop influences, which was teased by their 'Angel" cover. It still retains that Leprous essence which is recognizable since Bilateral release, which traduces into that oppresive and dark moody allied with a schizophrenic groove

The band continues to explore new territories, always with very high level of musicianship, with a special mention to the drummer 'Baard Kolstad', which elevates the whole record into a higher level, always with complex and beautiful patterns, sometimes very subtle, sometimes as crazy as you can get.

The shorter songs are more accessible and lighter, where two of them were chosen to be the singles of this release. But don't be fooled, all of them features really high level of musicianship. The longer are full progressive suits, with the 11 minutes finale 'The Sky is Red' which is Leprous at their best: epic, dark, heavy and subtle.

One of my favorites records of this year. 5/5

Report this review (#2276170)
Posted Wednesday, October 30, 2019 | Review Permalink
5 stars I think it's a shame that many supposed "prog" fans hear something outside of what they are used to hearing and very quickly dismiss it as "not prog". In my opinion, this is one of the least "prog" attitudes to take toward music.

Leprous' album PITFALLS is a fantastic work of art that sees the band push their music in a new direction while sacrificing none of their creativity. Some have labelled this new direction as "pop" or "accessible", and while there would be nothing inherently wrong with the band putting out an album of the sort, there is no doubt that this is still a progressive rock album.

Pitfalls is the band's least metal/heavy album thus far, but what it lacks in riffs it more than makes up for with tension and atmosphere. Each track is laced with intensity and drama, yet in a way that doesn't feel forced or inauthentic at all. The instrumentation is less overt or "in your face" compared to past album, but is no less impressive. Spelling mention goes to Baard Kolstad for laying down very tight and highly nuanced drumming throughout the entire album, but particularly on the 11 minute epic closing track "The Sky Is Red".

It also must be mentioned that Einar Solberg has proven himself to be arguably the most impressive frontman in the progressive rock/metal scene at the moment. It is no secret that he is an insanely talented vocalist - as has been increasingly displayed with each subsequent Leprous release - but on Pitfalls, Einar have elevated himself to new heights. When his voice needs to be powerful, it is incredibly powerful. When it needs to be fragile, it is incredible fragile. When it needs to cover a range of emotions, it does just that. His work across every track on this album leaves many of his peers in the dust, and while some fans have lamented that the vocal-centric approach by the band has left the other members in the shadow. This is a fair point, I suppose, but I find it hard to argue with the results: Einar's creative control of the band has produced a fantastic album, and at the end of the day that's what matters to me.

Report this review (#2276528)
Posted Thursday, October 31, 2019 | Review Permalink
4 stars Pitfalls comes to prove how Leprous is a very versatile band, able to combine melodic and classical elements without losing its identity. 'Pitfalls' being their most accessible material to date feels like a ballad-ish album on several times, to be enhanced by Einar Solberg's stunning high pitches (ex.: I Lose Hope's middle section).

For me, it often feels like a 'Malina' DLC, leaving behind plain vocals and synths that came with tracks like Malina and The Last Milestone and shining a bit more of a spotlight on the band as a whole. Yes, Einar is still a fundamental pillar here, but Halvor Strand's bass, for example, can be much better appreciated, guiding the ballad moments whenever the songs need to pick back up to where they were.

The album's ending is definitely a highlight: The Sky is Red comes as almost a signature ending for Leprous, even with a not-so-big discography. Kinda like BTBAM albums must always have that beginning song that introduces the story to be told. The Sky is Red is a light version of Coal's ender, Contaminate Me (if there can be such a thing).

In the end, this is an excellent first material for anyone getting into Leprous. In fact, this is a great album to hook in a lot of folks not used to the weird things in the prog universe.

Side note, this album fits perfectly as a soundtrack for Netflix's 'Dark' series. Hope I'm not alone here.

Report this review (#2276785)
Posted Friday, November 1, 2019 | Review Permalink
kev rowland
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Reviewer
3 stars I have not heard 2017's 'Malina', but having been fairly disappointed in 'The Congregation', what would 2019's 'Pitfalls' bring us? I sat there listening to it, and one word kept coming through my mind, Marillion. Now in fairness there were other times when it was also Muse and Opeth, but Marillion is the one which seems to make the most sense here. The music has become a vehicle just for the vocals of Einar Solberg, who it must be said is a truly incredible singer, and this music is not something I necessarily want to listen to. 'At The Bottom' starts as if it has been recorded in a home studio with drum machine, keyboards and vocals, and given that Solberg is also the keyboard player it isn't beyond the realms of comprehension that is exactly what it is.

There are indeed flashes of genius, as indeed the way that song in itself breaks into something more dramatic but it never continues for long enough. This is where Marillion comes in. I am one of those people who will argue their best material was probably prior to the release of the debut album, and they have not released anything I will actually play end to end for pleasure since 'Childhood'. That does not stop me buying Marillion albums as I am an eternal optimist, and there are indeed some wonderful songs from the Hogarth period, but little which makes me want to play them time and again. The last time I saw them in concert I swore I would never bother going to see them again, but I am sure I said that a few times prior to that as well and I still go. There will be many people who feel this is a wonderful album, and indeed it is well-played and produced, but this is just not the Leprous I want to listen to. There are times when it is incredibly bland, and although some may say it is accessible, commercial and awesome, I do wonder if they would be saying the same if this was the first time they had ever heard material. If this was a debut then I may be saying there is promise and it will be interesting to see where they go from here, but this is their seventh release and I worry about what the next one will bring.

Report this review (#2374234)
Posted Friday, April 24, 2020 | Review Permalink
SoundsofSeasons
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars As an avid fan of Leprous, growing up with this band since my first years on this site back in the early 2000s, believe me when I say that judging one of their albums is quite difficult for me. I have to say that their previous album 'Malina' stands as one of the favorite albums in my collection of any band of any genre. This one was quite shocking to hear, at first. That's a good thing. I expect to be challenged by the artists every once in a while. I've been spinning this one for about half a year now, and I'm still having a hard time placing it. It has taken me a long time to 'get' this one, and I find it ironic, because there is a lot less to digest musically here than other albums that have stumped me before. This is the first Leprous album to challenge me like this, so here we go. As a Leprous album, it just doesn't match their other works. So, let me do this, let me strip away my pre-conceived beliefs in what this band I love so much is. This is Leprous in its more delicate and minimalistic. I can see how one might say they are more accessible with this album, but I would argue the opposite just as much. There is a subtlety and finesse to the delivery on this work that Leprous hasn't shown as of yet, till now. I can't understand how this is accessible from a mainstream standpoint, because even if the songs can be catchy at times, there is no way this music would find its' place on a top 100 list. The subtlety of vocals, of the drumming ghost notes, of the light textures of layers of sounds is like a Radiohead album built for extreme metal fans. Square peg into a round hole or something like that, this kind of music isn't easily digested by the common listener. This album reminds me of how I felt about Anathemas 'A Natural Disaster', both clearly got their inspirations from some of the same places. This over use of electronic soundscape, and a lesser emphasis on the musical skill of this band (of which is of incredibly high caliber I can assure you, just listen to 'Malina') I suppose I should be congratulating Leprous for this self-control for sake of the vision/art. If anything, I find this one to a pallet cleanser of sorts, as the last 3 albums had a natural curve, it was in fact time for something different. To give you an idea how I am coming to terms with my feelings on this album, this is the question I ask myself "How does this musical art hold up from beginning to end, as a cohesive thematic unit (that's the objective) and how does it hold my attention (the subjective)" Well, I think not one song is misplaced, there is a flow and dynamic path throughout this album from beginning to end that I follow without delineation. I've said this before, and again, I'll say it - I'm not judging this album based on how 'progressive' it is. I don't know what that is supposed to mean anyway, and again, I don't care because everyone's idea of what is 'progressive' is different. Does this work of musical art maintain its composure throughout? Yes, it does. Radiohead- esque, catchy and poppy melodies, and further we go away from those 70's prog giants into the future of Wilson, Riverside, and PoS.
Report this review (#2491618)
Posted Saturday, January 9, 2021 | Review Permalink

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