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Leprous Coal album cover
3.97 | 488 ratings | 14 reviews | 37% 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

- 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

LEPROUS Coal ratings distribution

(488 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(37%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(39%)
Good, but non-essential (14%)
Collectors/fans only (7%)
Poor. Only for completionists (3%)

LEPROUS Coal reviews

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

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Second Life Syndrome
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
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.

Review by Conor Fynes
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
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
3 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 influences of the eerie closing track, Contaminate Me.

All very well, but I've found over time that I've become less and less taken with the album, its undeniably pristine production and technical accomplishment not quite translating to material which feels compelling to me. In particular, the sparser and more minimalistic approach, whilst compelling at first, over time feels increasingly hollow.

Review by aapatsos
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
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
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: ***

Review by SoundsofSeasons
4 stars Full disclosure, I'm a massive fan of this band. They are my favorite fully active band in this exact moment in time. They have consistently topped themselves in an ever evolving sound they've developed all their own and improved with each and every release (for the most part). To my great pleasure, it seems likely they have a contract that requires them to release a new album every two years because their release schedule is like clockwork.

Now, as for this album, i'm reviewing this one after the release of 'The Congregation' and 'Malina' albums, and in those reviews you would see that i had praised them as near perfection, and literal perfection in the case of 'Malina'. This one is damn good, but it sees the band in a transition period. This album is broken up into two versions of the band, the older Leprous that found itself a thinking mans death metal band; see 'Tall Poppy Syndrome', and the Leprous of today utilizing more atmosphere, subtlety, clean vocals, dynamic range, and breathing room in song structure rather than all out go go go found in much metal they took inspiration from originally.

Phase 1 (the original Leprous sound): The album starts just like the previous one. Foe, Chronic, Coal - These songs could have been ripped straight from 'Bi-Lateral', in fact either they actually were bleed overs from previous ideas or they may be there in the beginning of the this album because they are what the fans were expecting... more of the previous and more of the same. I like to think that Leprous was actually told that they needed some more 'Bi- Lateral' esque songs at least in the beginning of their album if they wanted to then experiment with a new sound and direction later in the album. And they do.

Phase 2 (cue the new Leprous): In comes The Cloak and we see the band as a whole take a back seat to Einar Solbergs' vocals. Gorgeous. Who knew? Well we've seen glimpses of this before, but really Leprous never allowed the vocals to take center stage in such a way. This is the turning point. There's no going back now, the band has revealed the big surprise, they are clearly reaching toward a different style of music entirely and here we go with the rest of the album

Phase 2 continued: The Valley, Salt, Echo - This is Leprous experimenting with the new sound that they would later expand upon for the future. Subtle keyboard textures, vocals take the lead melodically with a quite clean sound, electronic sounds that people like to now say sound 'Radiohead-esque' and swells of dynamics that flow throughout the length of each song.

You know what i've noticed though? The drums and bass take a backseat in these songs. As a drummer myself, i clearly see that Tobias hits his heads significantly less in these songs than in any of the previous songs and any previous albums. In fact, i would say that he has almost nothing to do on these songs. Why? Because he's not that kind of drummer. I would know, i play quite a bit like him. I trained myself on Dream Theater style metal. There isn't much dynamic range there. No ghost notes to be had. Subtlety on a drumset is an incredibly difficult thing to perfect, especially if you still want to be technically impressive. This is something jazz drummers do so well. Think Gavin Harrison of Porcupine Tree, or Bill Bruford. Tobias was out of his element playing in these songs - he faded into the background. He is no longer the driving force, Leprous isn't playing death metal anymore, how fast you can hit that double bass pedal isn't going to cut it. I do believe this may have been a deciding factor as to why either Tobias left the band, or was removed, i don't follow music drama i don't know how that all occurred but i can tell you with certainty that the drummer that replaced him is not only just technically better but also much more suited toward the sound a mature Leprous wanted to reach. I'm not bass player, but i do know from playing in many jazz bands that the bassist and drummer are really one unit so i wouldn't be surprised if the axing of the drummer required a new bassist as well - every ying needs a yang and the new addition of a drummer to propel this band into the future would require a counterpart equally matched and perfect symbiosis.

Phase 3 (The blackness rises from the depths one last time): In the last moments of the song Echo, the song fades out to nothing so gradually it is obvious that the album should end there? No. Leprous has one last hurrah for their fans of their previous sound and that is the final track

Contaminate Me - This song is probably the only true black metal song Leprous has ever done at the time of writing this review. The drums of Tobias go all out one last time, he blasts the heads and kicks his feet as fast as his limbs can take him. The vocalist screams with a wail so sinister this song could be mistaken for a song from something off of Enslaved 'Isa" album, or any from that of Acturus. This is Leprous saying goodbye to their heritage. It is time for Leprous to clip their demon wings and go forth into a sound all their own.

This is an excellent piece of music, even if it gets the honor of being a collection of songs that clearly do not match in terms of overall band philosophy. For better or worse. For me, it is for the better that Leprous break the shackles that bound them to a purely death metal sound.

And greatness was just on the misty clouded horizon, out of the depths we crawl.

Review by Kempokid
5 stars While both Bilateral and Tall Poppy Syndrome displayed the core sound of Leprous, an eclectic core sound taking elements from various facets of prog rock and metal, exploring both more symphonic and extreme sounds, all with a strong focus on rhythmic interplay between the guitar and percussion, Coal is where I find that the band had finally developed a true identity, making a far more cohesive album in the process. The focus on the vocals of Einar Solberg is far more prominent here, the entire album having a darker, yet more melodic approach, while maintaining the disciplined, sparse tone that was strongly present on parts of Bilateral, evolving their sound in a way that makes them strongly stand out from mosst bands. To further exemplify the evolution of the band, the songs here are far more fleshed out and detailed than before, while simultaneously being far more noticeable in the experimentation that the album is full of, bringing everything together extremely nicely to create a highly memorable, relatively unique album.

The core identity of the album is immediately established on the opening track, Foe, with the first half based primarily around the soaring vocals of Einar and an extremely repetitive guitar section, the single, slow, repeated chord working excellently with the similarly minimalistic drumming. The gradually increasing complexity of the drums comprises a large part of why the song works as well as it does, but it's ultimately the second half that makes this such a great song, as everything for the last 2 minutes is heavily stripped back as more layers of vocals begin weaving between each other, creating a haunting, yet beautiful and almost gothic atmosphere. Chronic is a far more active, conventional song in many regards, with more standard application of each element of the band, but definitely doesn't suffer at all for this due to how great each role has in creating such an anxious tone through the instruments, the repetitive, urgent guitar and piano work especially contributing to the sense of unease that pervades the song. I love how the song gradually fills out more as it progresses through the changing guitar tone throughout, starting off sounding as if it's merely another element of the band before gradually becoming the main attraction of the song, all without having any sort of significant solo and maintaining the same riffs, another excellent song all around. While the title track initially feels somewhat less immediately striking as previous songs, the wall of sound production that phases in and out is excellent at creating establishing the song as being epic, making the buildup and subsequent climax at the back half of this song to be all the more powerful because of it, as the final couple of minutes are some of the most intense on the album without a doubt. The Cloak is definitely the track that one is most likely to remember first time through, being a very conventional track with a dramatic chorus, furthermore, it manages to maintain the darker tone of previous tracks, making it a simple, yet great song.

The turning point of this album is this second half however, as while the songs up to this point have definitely been highly competant and full of great ideas, it's the next few tracks that really shine, especially The Valley. I adore the guitar work here, nothing too out there or even melodic, but just like with Foe, extremely rhythm focused, playing perfectly off the off kilter vocal melody of the chorus. I find this to be building off the core concept of Foe in other ways as well, most notably the soaring vocalisations being the primary focus, endlessly repeating as the other band members create an expansive atmosphere with the main focus being on supporting this vocal performance, rather than attempting to overpower any particular element. The result of this is the creation of one of Leprous' greatest tracks by a wide margin. Bother Salt and Echo serve very similar purposes here, but both manage to perpetuate the trajectory from The Valley, both songs being focused on being extremely melancholic in tone, which it accomplishes absolutely perfectly, Salt being fairly inconsequential on its own, but bridging the gap perfectly in a way that heightens the overall quality of both itself and the pieces it's being used to enhance. Echo on the other hand is just straight up great, once again utilising the approach of the other 2 incredible songs so far, letting wordless vocals carry the atmosphere perfectly, although there isn't really much more to say about it that hasn't already been said, it's another extremely good song. I believe that the most surprising thing about this album is how effectively the closing track works despite the stark difference between it and the rest of the album, not to mention that despite this, it's also my favourite on the album. Rather than ending the album on a melancholic, soft note, Leprous belt out their heaviest song, Contaminate Me, with a fast paced riff bringing out an immediate feeling of intensity that is then further displayed with guest appearance of Ihsahn. This song is jjust so full sounding, the underling keyboard somehow adding a whole other layer of chaos to it all despite not even being all that fast paced, yet doing almost as much as the breakneck drumming annd guitar work. Altogether, this song, despite being extremely different in approach to the rest of the album, manages to conclude everything absolutely perfectly in my eyes, with the 4 minutes of screams over sparse, chaotic instrumentation being extremely impactful.

I definitely feel that while this album can feel a tad long in places, that it's by far Leprous' best album, taking the interesting song structures and soaring vocals of previous albums, and then creating an album that focuses primarily on atmosphere and tone instead, refining their core sound to create a dark, beautiful album that remains one of my favourite prog metal albums. I did find that this one took a few listens for me to properly warm up to, and I'm leaving a lot of that up to the fact that it's the second half of the album that really shines, but it's definitely a worthwhile time investment.

Best tracks: Foe, The Valley, Contaminate Me

Weakest tracks: Coal (if I had to pick)

Verdict: A stunning album that builds itself around a powerful atmosphere and equally powerful vocals, songs seeming difficult to grasp at first eventually revealing the true beauty that lies beneath. Definitely recommended for fans of prog metal in general, especially those who find particular satisfaction in a strong focus of the rhythmic elements of a song or album.

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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