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COAL

Leprous

Tech/Extreme Prog Metal


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Leprous Coal album cover
3.96 | 375 ratings | 12 reviews | 38% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection


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Studio Album, released in 2013

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Foe (5:16)
2. Chronic (7:20)
3. Coal (6:51)
4. The Cloak (4:10)
5. The Valley (9:00)
6. Salt (4:30)
7. Echo (9:42)
8. Contaminate Me (9:05)

Total time 55:54

Bonus tracks on 2013 LP release:
9. Bury (4:46)
10. Foe (re-mix) (4:03)

Line-up / Musicians

- Einar Solberg / vocals, synth, grand piano
- Tor Oddmund Suhrke / electric & baritone guitars
- Øystein Skonseng Landsverk / guitar
- Rein Blomquist / bass
- Tobias Ørnes Andersen / drums, e-drums, percussion

With:
- Ihsahn / vocals (8)
- Håkon Aase / violin (8)

Releases information

Artwork: Jeff Jordan

CD Inside Out Music ‎- IOMCD 379 (2013, Europe)

2xLP Inside Out Music ‎- IOMLP 379 (2013, Germany) With 2 bonus tracks

Thanks to black_diamond for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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Buy LEPROUS Coal Music


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Insideout Music 2013
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Inside Out
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LEPROUS Coal ratings distribution


3.96
(375 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(38%)
38%
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(36%)
36%
Good, but non-essential (14%)
14%
Collectors/fans only (8%)
8%
Poor. Only for completionists (3%)
3%

LEPROUS Coal reviews


Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Second Life Syndrome
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars I'm not a huge fan of Leprous. I somewhat liked "Poppy", but the lack of melody at times burned out my brain. I wasn't a fan of the harsh vocals either. But, I did appreciate the originality and the cool grooves.

After hearing that this new album is more melodic, I gave it a shot. It certainly is more melodic. I was massively impressed with the interesting arrangements and structures in this album. Some songs are very delicate, such as The Cloak. Others sound more like behemoths of sound crisscrossing and playing with each other. Melody is almost always in the mix, and it plays well with the strange riffing style and the ethereal vox. This is no ordinary grinding tech metal album. In fact, I don't even like tech metal. But this album is just so much more interesting.

I was surprised at times that the vocalist reminds me of Jonathan Davis of Korn. Weird, I know, but I couldn't shake it, especially in the final track. I also noticed how each song really grows on you before you've even listened to the track in its entirety. "Foe" just sounds so strange, but half-way through, I "got it". The same thing applies to "Chronic" and "Coal". Leprous obviously tried to create something completely different here, and I applaud them for that. This is not music that I will listen to countless times, but because it is very good and especially because it is very different, I will give it 4 stars.

Review by kev rowland
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars There is no doubt that when these guys released 'Bilateral' in 2011 that they created a lot of noise in the prog scene, literally. Here is a band that is happy, really happy, to be a metal outfit and tour with bands like Amorphis, Therion, Opeth, Pagan's Mind et al yet also have one foot firmly in the prog camp. And if you didn't know, these guys have acted as fellow Norwegian Ihsahn's backing band so they really have no qualm with producing music at the heaviest and most complex level. When I started playing this two bands sprang to mind immediately, and the more I played it the more I was convinced that I was right. Here is a band that takes the melodic soundscape of Muse, and then mixes it up liberally with Devin Townsend to create something that at times is almost breathtakingly beautiful and yet at others is a wall of sound as they crank up the energy and the volume to 11.

There is no doubt to my mind that this is metallic prog metal of some class and power, yet I am sure that it will upset some listeners who feel that prog should be more sedate and not in your face quite so much. But if prog is about progressing and pushing the boundaries as opposed to regressing and attempting to be a clone of the great bands that have gone before then this is it. This is modern, with the odd nod back to King Crimson, and is very much modern metallic progressive music for the 21st century. The more I have played this the more I have enjoyed it and while I think 4*'s is the right mark for now, ask me again in a few months and it may have made it up 5. If you want a dynamic soundscape then this is it. www.insideout.de

Review by Conor Fynes
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars 'Coal' - Leprous (84/100)

It now seems strange to think there was a time I didn't understand the hype and excitement surrounding Leprous. Their first full-fledged foray into album-making, "Tall Poppy Syndrome" was met with some pretty wild acclaim in progressive metal circles. Though I was impressed with their skill and musicality, I was left wanting for a more distinct, unique style of progressive metal. Though I was certain that the band would improve and refine their craft, nothing could have however prepared me for "Bilateral". As if my imaginary Leprous wishlist had been thoroughly studied and referenced, the band's second album marked a large step towards more experimental territory and a sound of their own. Two years since its release, "Bilateral" has become one of my favourite-ever albums, and that's a big part of why I was so anxious to hear "Coal". My excitement aside, Leprous seem to have been up to some great things in the past two years; with their third record, they have fostered an even more distinctive style for themselves. Evolving their sound once again, Leprous are proving with each new album that they are the greatest band of the new progressive metal wave.

Though I've never once had the fleeting impression that Leprous might follow up "Bilateral" with a subpar album, I was self-aware of the exceedingly high standard I would hold the new record up to. After hearing "Coal", it seems impossible to meaningfully compare the two albums. Leprous have once again maintained an incredibly high musical standard, with regards to both the composition and execution. However, though it's clear that "Coal" is cut from the same cloth as "Bilateral", the tone and mood have evolved significantly. While the second album revelled in being all-over-the-place and pleasantly quirky, "Coal" puts a much greater emphasis on atmosphere and focused compositions. There remains a playful, catchy element to the music, but the tracks here come across more directly and purposefully than before. Neither approach is inherently superior to the other. The songs on "Coal" have less surprises and twists to them, but the epic payoffs have never tasted so sweet.

Many of the songs here unveil a more static side to Leprous. By 'static', I do not mean dull by any means, but rather emotionally unchanging. "Coal" earns points for variety as an album holistically, but it's as if each track focuses in on one particular atmosphere, and fleshes it out until it reaches a critical mass. More often than note, that atmosphere is one of sombre reflection and melancholy; quite the departure from the zany antics of "Bilateral". Though Leprous have very little in common stylistically with Summoning, the approach and structure of the compositions here is reminiscent of Summoning's latest album in the sense that there is a notable emphasis on realizing the potential of a handful of really strong ideas, rather than filling out the album's length with a bunch of smaller-sized components. Tracks like the breathtaking "The Valley" and gorgeously morose "Echo" spend much of their time building up to a rapturous climax. The arrangements tend to dwell on certain ideas for longer than one might tend to expect from a 'progressive metal' release, and though I might have missed that 'everything but the kitchen sink' approach of Leprous' earlier work, it's a joy in its own right to see an idea develop and mature within the context of a track.

Fortunately, Leprous offer a handful of more traditional pieces to help balance out their experimental flair. "Chronic" is an energetic, quirky piece that would have fit snugly on "Bilateral". While "Salt" may work as a four minute extension of "The Valley", it functions excellently as a track of its own, its wonderfully ethereal chorus being one of the album's highlights. While "Contaminate Me" could have used a little variety to spice it up somewhere around the halfway point, it's a powerful way to wrap up the album, adapting the spawled- out structure of the album's longer tracks to a more severe, aggressive atmosphere. While the opener "Foe" sits at a comfortable five minute length, it just might be the most experimental cut from the album, featuring some of frontman Einar Solberg's most compelling vocal work to date. Although it probably won't surprise anyone, the weakest track here is the apparent 'single', "The Cloak". Although it works well as a break between the groove metal pyrotechnics of the title track and the masterful "The Valley", it doesn't tend to have the jaw-dropping quality of the rest of the album. The mellotron presence is very much welcome, but "The Cloak" ultimately comes off feeling like a Muse ballad more than anything else. On most other albums, it may have been a highlight, but I would have hoped Leprous could have delivered something a little bit more enticing for their album single.

The evolution of Leprous' sound on "Coal" is sure to grate unpleasantly with some listeners at first, but one thing that remains evident from the beginning is the band's standard of musicianship, which is virtually without par in the progressive metal genre today. With this across-the-board virtuosic skill in mind, it's all the more impressive that Leprous manage to restrain themselves to sporting their talents within the bounds of the songwriting. Although Leprous' sound is decidedly more experimental, comparisons could be drawn with Sweden's Pain of Salvation and their peak material from a decade past. It's possibly a less inviting dish than the albums Leprous have served in the past (at least initially), but there's no doubt that Leprous have broken into fresh territory.

It's pretty incredible how much a band can change in four years. From "Tall Poppy Syndrome" to this, the level of ambition and left-field wizardry has increased with each step. Although it will be some time before I'll truly know where "Coal" stands in comparison to the rest of the band's work, Leprous have delivered one of the most musically compelling experiences of the year thus far.

Review by EatThatPhonebook
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars 8/10

Leprous' Most Emotionally Lush Album.

Along with just a handful of bands all over the world, Leprous is one of the game-changing legacy-carriers of Progressive Metal. Their style is distinct, but unafraid of revealing influences such as Pain Of Salvation. Behind their backs, they only have three albums; the debut, "Aeolia", is somewhat of a forgotten LP, but the latter two are the main reason the band is now at the center of the stage for many Metal and Progheads. 2011's "Bilateral", album number three, is most definitely the most ground-breaking and mature, and stood out as one of the key albums of this new wave of Prog Metal.

"Coal", against most odds, maintains almost all of the "Bilateral" qualities intact. It blends the same ingredients, and molds them with a new formula. The most noticeable new change is how the band has put Einar Solberg's voice even more up-front than usual: he sings almost all over the place, delivering beautiful, extended falsetto vocals, as well as melodic phrases that serve a given song as a completely independent additional instrument. In songs like "Echo" and "Foe", it is most apparent. This is for the most part Einar's album, even because the keyboards have most definitely toned-down, resulting in an overall drier atmosphere. This is not necessarily a fault of course, since Leprous' intent naturally was to craft something punchier, more straight-forward and song-based, rather than a moody album.

This leads to the song-writing. Looking back at 2009's "Tall Poppy Syndrome", it is amazing to see how far ahead they've brought themselves since. There is not one single track that fails. "Foe" starts the album off perfectly, boasting one of the most memorable and relevant vocal performances by Solberg; "Chronic" and the title track are easily the busiest and heaviest tracks, showcasing incredible interplay and progressive song structures; "The Cloak" and "Salt" are calmer pieces, both of them strategically well-placed throughout the album, as they generate a nice change of pace for the LP's momentum. "The Valley" is a long-winded, multi-faceted masterpiece, with perhaps one of the best hooks that the band has ever come up with; "Echo" is of a similar nature, but with a much more dramatic, slow tone to it. It is by far, the moodier and more emotional piece of the album, which is saying a lot. The album ends on a very heavy note, with guest vocalist Ihsahn killing it with one of his most fear-inducing performances: "Contaminate Me" is a throw-back to the band's more extreme roots, ?as a matter of fact Leprous used to be Ihsahn's backing band- nevertheless Leprous is able to sound as if it was brought up in a new, original fashion.

"Coal" comes so near to the levels of "Bilateral", and is once again striking proof that Leprous are one of the very best Metal bands out there. The best part of it is that they sound as if something even greater will eventually be in the works.

Review by Warthur
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars Leprous are not a band who stands still; comparing this album to 2009's Tall Poppy Syndrome reveals substantial and well-honed artistic growth. The influences of the likes of Porcupine Tree and others which could be heard on the earlier album are now much more difficult to detect, Leprous' sound having taken on a unique cast which pits them as true originals. The closest comparison I can think of is "what if a more tasteful version of Muse went prog metal, having listened to heaps of Porcupine Tree?", but even that doesn't encapsulate all the dimensions available here - for instance, it would obscure the extreme metal eruption of the magnificent closing track, Contaminate Me. Magnificent stuff.
Review by aapatsos
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Prog Metal and Heavy Prog Teams
3 stars I have come to learn about Leprous in early 2013, having listened to a few impressive samples and later in the year to this, fourth, album by the band. One thing is for sure: their sound is generally outside the norm, experiments freely and has character.

The initial impression I got from "Coal" was that of awe, listening to this powerful combination of Devin Townsend soundscapes, pounding heavy mid-tempo riffology and atmospheric experimentation. On the other hand, extremely melodic refrains and well-crafted harmonies provide the softer side and (arguably) keep the balance. With an average track length of 7 minutes, there is much on which to ponder, however Leprous don't always provide the necessary variety to make this a remarkable release. There are sporadic moments of glory and some majestic tunes that are genre-defining but the overall package lacks, I feel, the consistency and quality. The first three and last track are rather heavy-experimented tunes, often with Townsend-type chaotic moments, while tracks 4-7 are far more melodic, almost splitting the album into two different types of songs. In addition the indie/Muse influences on tracks like 'Chronic' slightly dilute their effort.

My preference in "Coal" tends towards the more melodic aspect, with 'The Valley' and 'Echo' being the highlights of this release. An interesting release but not a top-10 album, "Coal" will appeal to friends of experimental progressive metal. I look forward to exploring in depth all their releases as the glimpses of the highest quality are on this album, albeit not enough.

Review by Zitro
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Syncopated riffs and soaring clean vocals make a bigger presence in excellent metal album

Coal continues the incredible musicianship and complex rhythms from previous albums, but the songwriting is less unpredictable. The album concentrates on developing single ideas over extended periods of time once a mood has been established. The sound overall is darker and more atmospheric, like a vivid nightmare at times. The album also better showcases the strength of the vocalist. The death metal harsh vocals are still there, but limited to fewer songs as opposed to scattered across an album. They still don't work for me, especially when they come from a guest vocalist, but the ratio of harsh to clean vocals continue decreasing album after album.

'Foe' is an interesting introduction to the album and indicates a change in sound. It revolves around a simple off-kilter riff in 7/8 during its second half and highlights the range of the vocalist given the more retrained instrumentation that backs him up. The second half is an extended acapella section with minimalistic instrumentation - very atmospheric and haunting.

'Chronic' is a more traditional track and therefore among the least interesting in the album. The usage of frequent explosive short bursts of very heavy metal with harsh vocals at times distract the flow of the song as I negatively anticipate them when they are not there. This is unfortunate, as the more extended metal passages are remarkable.

'Coal' is also a more traditional song (with its intro heavily reminiscent of 'Forced Entry' from the previous album) but benefits from greater coherence and having some of the heavier moments attempted with more pleasing 'melodic screaming' instead of growls. Not the most melodic song, but very entertaining.

After the title track ends with a haunting reprise of its main theme, the next several songs is where I feel Leprous found their sound, polished further in future albums. These songs also have no harsh vocals whatsoever for a 25+ minute stretch which is a welcome break from the heaviness of 'Chronic' and 'Coal'. These songs generally find a particular sound and flesh it out as much as possible over several minutes.

'The Cloak' is a ballad with restrained but interesting instrumentation that makes best use of the vocalist. He is consistently melodic throughout and does impressive falsetto performances. His performance invokes crushing depression. The song gradually introduces metal elements and the unmistakable syncopated riffs associated with the band. It is one of the most memorable songs in their catalog and a perfect choice for a single.

'The Valley' is a clear highlight of not only this album, but the entire career of the band. The song starts mid-tempo with computerized bassy synthesizers that will become more prominent in later albums. The first hook has a tremendous vocal melody and insane fun syncopated rhythms playing against traditional time signatures. The middle section is an unforgettable 3 1/2 minute build-up. It begins with a chilling synthesizer, static 17/16 fast paced drumming, extremely complex syncopated rhythms in bass and guitar, adds a haunting wordless vocal melody, then gives you an anticipation of doom as it slowly builds the tension solely via its syncopated riff over the next 3 minutes. Given the strength of the riff, I do not mind the repetitive nature of this passage. The buildup transitions seamlessly into a very epic brief passage and then a reprise of the intro with a heavier emphasis on the computerized synths. The song ends with the tremendous vocal melody of earlier.

'Salt' is a calmer piece and less complex, focusing on ethereal vocalizations. The song is brief, but very enjoyable throughout. 'Echo' has a dramatic slow tone to it and takes its time introducing and developing its themes. The usage of strange, but haunting synthesizers continue being a unique feature of the band and the song's wordless vocal harmonies dominate the song.

Unfortunately 'Contaminate Me' harkens back to the death metal era of the band and to make matters worse, a guest vocalist performs the harsh vocals. This guest vocalist at times sounds like a teenager attempting to sound 'evil' but the raspy style sounds corny and in no way matches the instrumental heavy sound. When the instrumentation dials down into an slow ambient atmospheric section, the guest vocalist unfortunately growls throughout it, which is a shame as the instrumentation is so good here. While the growls are better performed in the second half, I wish this section was purely instrumental.

4.5 to 5 star songs: *The Valley*, *The Cloak*, Echo 3.5 to 4 star songs: Foe, Salt, Coal 2.5 to 3 star songs: Chronic, Contaminate Me

Review by The Crow
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars Sadly, after having heard this album thoroughly, my impressions are very similar to the feelings I had when I saw them live together with Devin Townsend in Madrid a few years ago!

I get tired of their music after a pair of songs... And I don't know why! Because they practice a style of prog metal that I usually love. An stimulating mix between dark riffs, strong drums and an adventurous (although not always good accomplished) songwriting very influenced by bands like Tool, Opeth, Devin Townsend and even more conventional acts like Dream Theater.

Maybe are the annoying operatic vocals the fact that makes me tired of their music? Maybe the monotonous and repetitive instrumental parts which lacks true progressive charm in songs like Foe or Echo?

So despite Coal has a pair of truly great moments, it's not catchy enough for me and I don't see me coming back to this album too often. And that's a pity, because I see some greatness in this band that sadly can't not be completely heard in this record.

Best Tracks: Chronic (the most varied and best instrumental section of the album), The Cloak (a very welcomed break in the repetitiveness of the album in the form of a more mellow track) and The Valley (very good melodies and a fine chorus)

Conclusion: Coal is a good prog metal album, but it lacks something truly brilliant to be considered an excellent addition to any prog music collection. I get tired of the repetitive operatic vocals, the songwriting is not always catchy and compelling (Coal, Saturate Me) and the instrumental parts lack true magic and progressive power to be considered great.

Nevertheless, I will hear more Leprous albums because I see a truly great potential in this band that sadly in Coal is not fully materialized.

My rating: ***

Latest members reviews

5 stars When I was curious about the rest of Leprous's music after giving a listen to BILATERAL, I decided to check out their other albums. TALL POPPY SYNDROME was okay, but slightly lackluster in my opinion. I decided to move to COAL, their most recent albums. Wow. Just wow. Leprous are simply getti ... (read more)

Report this review (#1359479) | Posted by aglasshouse | Sunday, February 1, 2015 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Coal Syndrome Definition: when a new album from a band you consider highly does not reach your high expectations, but even after time and learning that the album is actually very good, you still feel disappointed in it. I think my review for Dead Letter Circus' The Catalyst Fire sums up my ... (read more)

Report this review (#1174857) | Posted by Gallifrey | Tuesday, May 13, 2014 | Review Permanlink

3 stars A marriage between traditional prog metal and that atmospheric direction that the more adventurous black metal bands have taking recently. A true marriage, half-way, not just a black metal with progressive structures or prog trying to seem cool. Tracks are divided between more metallic numbers, at ... (read more)

Report this review (#1133605) | Posted by Progrussia | Tuesday, February 18, 2014 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Ok...If I must admit...these guys have been below my radar for a very long time. I was aware of the praise their first 2 albums got, and always had a slight interest in them, but whether it was a lack of interest in prog or infatuation with something else, I never gave these guys any attention ... (read more)

Report this review (#987990) | Posted by arcane-beautiful | Friday, June 28, 2013 | Review Permanlink

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