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LEPROUS

Tech/Extreme Prog Metal • Norway


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Leprous picture
Leprous biography
Founded in Notodden, Norway in 2001

LEPROUS are a Tech/Extreme band founded by Einar SOLBERG (synth,vocals) and Tor ODDMUND SUHRKE (guitar,vocals), the group went through numerous line-up shuffles before settling on the current members Halvor STRAND (bass), Øystein LANDSVERK (guitar,backing vocals)and Tobias ØRNES ANDERSEN (drums).

The members of LEPROUS are young, but despite their youth this group packs some impressive musical pedigrees. SOLBERG played live for EMPEROR and SUHRKE and STRAND were members of IHSAHN'S touring band.

In 2004 LEPROUS self-released their 3 song EP "Silent Waters" and in 2006 self-released their full-length demo album "Aeolia". The band signed to Sensory Records and released their sophomore effort "Tall Poppy Syndrome" in 2009. The band later were signed by Inside Out Music and released "Bilateral" in 2011 and "Coal" in 2013.

LEPROUS' music is hard to classify and pin down to one sub-genre. Their music is firmly rooted in prog metal, crafting songs around odd structures, predominantly clean vocals, abrupt time changes, complex rhythms and dexterous musicianship all punctuated by contrasting heavier sections but also punctuated with growling vocals and black metal shrieks. Taking elements from OPETH, DREAM THEATER, WINDS, IHSAHN, CYNIC and even PORCUPINE TREE and SONATA ARCTICA, LEPROUS assembles these influences in an odd yet undeniably appealing manner.

A very diverse band and highly recommended to ALL prog metal fans!

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LEPROUS discography


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LEPROUS top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.62 | 115 ratings
Aeolia
2006
4.15 | 410 ratings
Tall Poppy Syndrome
2009
3.94 | 524 ratings
Bilateral
2011
4.03 | 458 ratings
Coal
2013
3.97 | 558 ratings
The Congregation
2015
4.04 | 288 ratings
Malina
2017
3.92 | 207 ratings
Pitfalls
2019
4.04 | 54 ratings
Aphelion
2021

LEPROUS Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

4.47 | 32 ratings
Live at Rockefeller Music Hall
2016

LEPROUS Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

4.22 | 31 ratings
Live At Rockefeller Music Hall
2016

LEPROUS Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

LEPROUS Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

3.00 | 6 ratings
Silent Waters
2004
3.91 | 23 ratings
{From the Flame}
2017
4.08 | 12 ratings
Castaway Angels
2020

LEPROUS Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Aphelion by LEPROUS album cover Studio Album, 2021
4.04 | 54 ratings

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Aphelion
Leprous Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by alainPP

5 stars LEPROUS is the mega band founded in 2001 playing on extreme tech at the start. They have approached IHSAHN and EMPEROR closely and make music that is almost unclassifiable, flirting prog metal then art music with a complex range, hard, djent, pop with the voice of Einar recounting his existential torments in the titles. An 8th album worked on in 3 different studios, covid obliges, album moving further and further away from their mentors DREAM THEATER, OPETH, CYNIC or WINDS. LEPROUS is also high and classic forays with Raphael and his magical cello, it is the violence of riffs associated with a divine voice, it is the association of hitherto opposing sounds united to create a new genre.

"Running Low" Leprousian attack with brass from the group Blåsemafiaen, slightly oriental atmosphere of the tune and the sublime voice of Einar which navigates between softness and trance due to his falsetto organ; not too accentuated this sound, minimalist break to properly stage the sounds, the emphasis is limited with a reminder of the recognizable 'pitfalls' sound and this Raphael cello solo that ends up tickling your ears. '' Out Of Here '' title intimate on percussions juggling with the hip-hop synth and bringing a dreamlike melody of any beauty, latent air; adrenaline rush with vocals and high guitar, its synth-wave starting with prog metal that keeps you going. '' Silhouette '' continues with a characteristic synthetic frame, the violin very present, the choirs, Einar vociferating, Baard's jerky rhythmic imposes on a surge of adrenaline that can induce trance; note the Leprousian airs anchored on the 'oh oh oh' furnishing more than anything else, necessary I doubt. `` All The Moments '' for the real progressive incursion with the classical orchestration and the melancholy strings of Raphael and Chris, the creaking country slide guitar, the sad rise which is transposed in beauty with this minimalist piano, we are not far from 'a depressive climate pointing to contemplation and again this inimitable voice. "Have You Ever?" Muted intro then synth flooding the sound space, almost pop, almost industrial, almost electronic, here we are dealing with a huge title; the east still very close, the keyboards invite to dance, the voice too, what can I say, we reach perfection in this animal air, undulating and hypnotic, short in time, long in musical sensations, a title which imposes it.

"The Silent Revelation" starts with the pure LEPROUS sound, jerky tune covered with a frozen synth; the angelic voice, whispered, siren or archangel, sets off on a good intriguing dancing rock; the electronic orchestration takes the bet on an intimate break then the raging guitars of Tor and Robin accompany the final chorus in an insane apocalyptic rise. "The Shadow Side" simple, minimalist, bordering on bombastic new wave with soft intro gives pride of place to fresh and airy synths; more common title jazzy limit where the voice is put forward to praise it a little more; the finale comes back to repetitive clichés on a high voice with riff, fortunately magnified by a too rare hyper energetic guitar solo which makes you want to put the title back. "On Hold" continues on an icy vocal harmony, spatial atmosphere; the longest track marshmallow, it's beautiful, it reminds me a bit of MANFRED MANN's keyboards on 'Chance' a time; the break with Raphael on the cello drives the nail on the beauty of an unclassifiable title, neither pop, nor rock, neither djent, nor jazzy; it is at the same time grandiloquent, cutesy and majestic with the rise of the voice and the rhythmic guitar, all amalgamated by the drums of Baard. from ANATHEMA, a deep basic air playing on a muffled sound pierced by Einar's voice; a dreamlike rise, progressive in fact which puts you in a trance after a few titles more behind, more overdone, too obvious; here it's power in crescendo with a crystal clear two-step solo; it sounds simple but it's perfect. "Nighttime Disguise" for the finale which goes off strong, riff of the drums, the bass, the synths, the Leprous what; a syncopated sound already on the distortion attenuated by the guitar and the voice; break metal then drift with again the Norwegian brass group Blåsemafiaen which gives another dimension, breaking all musical criteria; the interlude ends with what makes the strength of this quintet, namely its colorful swirling choirs; go for some growl, throaty sounds, some symphonic djent now for the final dreamlike explosion and an all too rare guitar solo; there it's finished.

LEPROUS due to the pandemic composed each title separately, without a frame except for the melancholy tone that emerges from it; powerful positive chaos whether in the register of rock, pop, djent, funk, trip hop or metal; Einar taking charge of the progressive soldering with an intrepid zest of inventiveness, ravishing melancholy and spleen that ANATHEMA would have signed immediately. Note the starting title "Adapt" sign of our company, "Aphelion" not being better since it expresses our maximum distance from our benefactor sun. Good mental health you will need to remain impassive in the face of this musical inferno, energy you will have while listening to this opus in the continuity of Pitfalls, heavy, nasty, metallic, depressive and high how overwhelming. A fresh, lively, intense album that can bring you to the musical firmament.

 Aphelion by LEPROUS album cover Studio Album, 2021
4.04 | 54 ratings

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Aphelion
Leprous Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by lukretio

4 stars The aphelion is the point in the orbit of a celestial body most distant from the Sun, so that, no matter where the body moves next, it must get closer to the Sun. With the title of their seventh full-length album, Leprous splendidly capture the bleakness of our current difficult state of affairs, while at the same time sending a powerful message of hope for the future. This ambivalence also describes perfectly the atmosphere that pervades the new record: bleak, introverted and coming from a place of darkness, yet full of yearning and anticipation. Charged with these conflicting emotions and packed with loads of unconventional arrangements and sonic ideas, Aphelion may just be the most difficult, yet intimately rewarding, album released by the Norwegian quintet to date.

Over the years, Leprous have followed a path that is not unknown to a few other contemporary prog metal acts: starting from the extreme boundaries of progressive metal, they steadily navigated towards more melodic songwriting and lighter arrangements. This process arguably culminated with their 2019's masterpiece Pitfalls, a gloriously melodic fusion of progressive ambition and pop sensibilities. Aphelion germinates from similar seeds, but has taken a moodier, more introspective turn, shying away from the catchy melodicism and propulsive songwriting of its predecessor, and resorting instead to sparser arrangements, slow winding song structures, and complex vocal arrangements that take time and repeated listens before they properly sink in.

Sonically, Aphelion leaves few points of reference to rock and metal audiences. Vocals, strings, piano and synthesizers are often the sole driving force of the songs. Raphael Weinroth-Browne guests once again on cello as he had done before on Pitfalls and Malina, and is joined here by Chris Baum on violin. Their contribution to the sound of the new album is massive: their instruments are literally everywhere on this record, often taking the place of the guitars that are instead notable for their absence throughout most of the album (this must surely be Leprous' LP with the least guitar in it!). Yet, when Tor Oddmund Suhrke and Robin Ognedal do cut through the mix, their presence is all the more powerful for it. Meanwhile, Baard Kolstad's drumming and Simen Børven's basslines strike a great balance between clever rhythmic complexity and minimalism. As on Pitfalls, Einar Solberg's voice and keyboard textures take centre stage on Aphelion. Solberg is probably the best singer in progressive metal at the moment, not just for his impressive vocal range and the sheer brilliance of his multifaceted vocal arrangements, but also for his incredibly powerful and emotional delivery. His performance on Aphelion is nothing short of exhilarating, encompassing everything between the simple, heart-breaking melody of "Castaway Angels" and the vocal acrobatics (that even see a return to growls) of "Nighttime Disguise".

The ten songs of Aphelion are a rollercoaster of new and re-discovered sounds: they look back at the band's past catalogue while at the same time running forward, unafraid to push new ground. If "Running Low" is a fairly safe way to open the album, with strong melodic hooks that are reminiscent of Pitfalls and ominous strings arrangements that reference prog artists both past (King Crimson) and present (Steven Wilson), already on the second song "Out of Here" the Norwegians start subverting expectations, showcasing a new taste for hermetic minimalism and a stubborn refusal to provide that easy melodic release they have accustomed us to with previous albums. The nervous electronic backbone of "Silhouette" and its angular, unsettling chorus push the album in further dark territory, creating a mighty contrast with the bluesy melodic guitar lick that opens, unexpectedly, the next song, "All the Moments". But it's only a fleeting moment, as also this song soon mutates into a sparsely arranged, unnerving piece for voice, piano and strings that eventually explodes into an emphatic, Steven Wilson-esque chorus.

"Have You Ever?" continues with the experiments in electronic minimalism of "Out of Here" and "Silhouette", pushing them to a new extreme (English art rock band Everything Everything comes to mind here). "The Silent Revelation" revisits more conventional territories, with djenty guitar riffs and big vocal melodies that could have sat comfortably among the notes of Malina. But the next two tracks immediately propel the album in a different direction. "The Shadow Side" is again a string-driven affair that surprises with its mid-section a cappella vocal arrangements and an explosive melodic guitar solo that is a rare find in the Norwegian's discography. "On Hold" is probably the pinnacle of the album, condensing in its nearly 8 minutes all the disparate sound ideas that can be found throughout the record: obscure electronic beats, slow winding loops, dramatic strings, minimal yet incredibly inventive use of the guitars, complex vocal arrangements intertwined with surprising melodic twists that push the music almost in pop singer-songwriter territory (am I the only one to read some Amy Winehouse into that poppy, uptempo bridge?!), and an epic soaring chorus that is 100% old Leprous.

The album winds down with two more conventional (in the sense of being closer to Leprous' previous sound), yet nonetheless stunning songs. Most people will probably have already heard "Castaway Angels", a song that was written and released as a standalone track in late 2020. It is an incredibly beautiful piece of music that explodes into a powerful and emotional crescendo, with one of the most effective melodies of the whole record. "Nighttime Disguise" is instead the outcome of an experimental interactive songwriting session that took place in early 2021, where fans could contribute to the creation of a Leprous' song by voting in real time on its musical direction. Perhaps unsurprisingly, this is the piece where the "old" sound of Leprous surfaces most clearly ? harking back even to the days of Coal. Yet, everything is reinterpreted through the voice of the "new" Leprous, with their focus on stark minimalism, string-driven songwriting and unpredictable vocal arrangements. It is a fantastic musical ride that unveils new depths with each fresh listen.

By constantly fluctuating between conventional and uncharted territories, while always rejecting easy melodicism in favour of challenging musical arrangements, Aphelion is not an easy album to love. Having sat with it for more than two weeks now, I cannot say that the record has truly "clicked" with me yet in the same way as Pitfalls, Malina or Coal instantly did after very few listens. In truth, I am not even sure it ever will. Yet, each time I listen to Aphelion, I can't help but marvel at the incredible depth, sophistication and inventiveness of its compositions. This is music that lives beyond progressive metal, rock, pop, electronica, and the other myriad influences that are carefully woven into the 56 minutes of this LP. It is the sound of a band that is unafraid to carve new paths to follow its own muse and bravely reinvent its songwriting formula with each new release. Aphelion is a genuine, riveting artistic statement from one of the most exciting bands in the progressive universe right now and, whether you'll end up loving it or not, it deserves your full attention and respect.

[Originally written for The Metal Observer]

 Aeolia by LEPROUS album cover Studio Album, 2006
3.62 | 115 ratings

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Aeolia
Leprous Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by The Crow
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Leprous full-length debut!!!

And even if it's just a demo, the sound is good enough to prove the technical mastery and good ideas of these Swedes.

The bad thing is that for my taste, this good sound and this good work on the instruments is not accompanied by compositions that are addictive enough for this album to become indispensable for me. In addition, the surprising formula of the first tracks becomes rather predictable towards the end of the album.

However, it does show enormous potential that, given the current status of the band, was confirmed in successive releases.

Well done guys! Especially recommended for fans of bands like Opeth, Mastodon and Atheist.

Best Tracks: Disclosure (a great chorus and an enviable instrumental development, as evidenced by the final "piano concerto"), Black Stains (jazzy and funny), Aeolous Shadow (the most epic song of this Aeolia in my opinion) and Deformed Beauty (beautiful guitar playing que a layer of keyboards)

My Rating: ***

 Tall Poppy Syndrome by LEPROUS album cover Studio Album, 2009
4.15 | 410 ratings

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Tall Poppy Syndrome
Leprous Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by Gorgut Muncher

4 stars Wouldn't call it a masterpiece but for sure kicks ass! Tall Poppy Syndrome is an awesome work considering it's a debut. It features eight tracks and a runtime of 64 minutes. Passing and Fate are ballad-ish tracks with cool melodies. Phantom Pain has an awesome chorus. Dare You has an even better chorus! He Will Kill again is a brutally good song, one of the best songs Leprous has made, it's very unexpected and fun to listen to. The title track is probably my favorite: It's a very unique instrumental that focuses on a trance- ish vibe rather than show-off. White is a very cool epic with a groovy chorus and a very heavy riff section around minute 6:00, although the end drags very long. Very Opeth inspired, you should go check it out, it's awesome. Four Stars!
 Tall Poppy Syndrome by LEPROUS album cover Studio Album, 2009
4.15 | 410 ratings

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Tall Poppy Syndrome
Leprous Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by King Brimstone

3 stars - Review #21 -

Oh, Leprous, you were so close to having a four star debut. Unfortunately, I've always felt like there's a worryingly large amount of songs that really aren't memorable or surprising in any way. Luckily, the next album would fix that.

First off let's start with the facts. For a debut, this is amazing. Usually bands aren't too confident in their first releases since it's their first exposure to the music market, but Leprous is a band that has been confident, professional and excellent from the beginning. This band has a strong Opeth/Porcupine Tree influence, with music focusing mostly on giving the listener a mellow impression. Technicality is there, but it's not a main focus of the album. Can't really call this extreme prog metal though, I would say it's more like Progressive Metal. Sure, there's growls, but they're not too common and most of the time their music isn't too heavy.

There's songs like Passing and Fate that work as ballads for the album, they have great melodies. There's tracks focused more on the dynamic aspect, featuring multiple time signatures changes, like Phantom Pain, Dare You And He Will Kill Again, with the latter being the standout of the album. Of course you also have the epic White which closes the album very well, even if it's a little too repetitive. Not Even A Name and the title track are really boring and uninteresting, I usually skip both of them.

So I can say it's a good debut. I wouldn't say it's excellent and calling it a masterpiece is way too much of a stretch. I still recommend it, however. Three Stars.

 Pitfalls by LEPROUS album cover Studio Album, 2019
3.92 | 207 ratings

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Pitfalls
Leprous Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by 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.
 Pitfalls by LEPROUS album cover Studio Album, 2019
3.92 | 207 ratings

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Pitfalls
Leprous Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by 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.

 The Congregation by LEPROUS album cover Studio Album, 2015
3.97 | 558 ratings

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The Congregation
Leprous Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by kev rowland
Special Collaborator Honorary Reviewer

3 stars I was a big fan of 'Coal', the fourth album from the Norwegian band, which was released in 2013, but for some reason didn't pick up the next one, 2015's 'The Congregation' until recently. It is a clever album, no doubt, but to my ears it is moving them far more into Muse territory than I am comfortable with. There is a wall of sound, lots of staccato riffing, and the feeling of this being a black and white assault as opposed to something rounded and with feeling. It is bleak and singular in its approach, and I soon found the whole album starting to wash over me. There is no doubt that Einar Solberg is an incredible singer, happily and easily moving into falsetto when it is appropriate, but with the blanket sound all around I was feeling suffocated without enough room to move. There just is not enough space, not enough contrast, and it feels like I am being smothered in sound. When the band does provide some gaps, it is a welcome relief but when the assault returns it makes it feel that much worse.

I felt incredibly disappointed after listening to this, as for me it does not stand up to the promise and quality of their earlier works. Even when a song such as 'Rewind' starts differently with long held-down keyboard chords the oncoming bass and drums warns the listener what is to burst forth in a minute. There is little in the way of solos, and one can easily imagine the band performing this as a unit as opposed to recording different instruments at different times. But, there is an oppressive weight to the proceedings for me, and listening to this was far more of a chore than I ever expected it to me, although it has been widely appreciated by many others, and according to PA it is #14 in the charts for best album for 2015 so what do I know?

 The Congregation by LEPROUS album cover Studio Album, 2015
3.97 | 558 ratings

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The Congregation
Leprous Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by Kempokid
Collaborator Prog Metal Team

3 stars Leprous is what I consider to be more or less the peak of modern prog metal based on their first 3 albums, all of which showed some very impressive evolution between each of them. Coal showed the band going in a more streamlined, atmospheric direction, with a far more expansive sound that especially prominently utilised vocal harmonies to give the entire album a somewhat mysterious feel, ultimately leading to creating one of the most interesting prog metal albums I've listened to. The Congregation sees the band further streamlining their sound, keeping to a very consistent sound and atmosphere throughout, for better or for worse. On one hand, this is a very cohesive album that never feels as if it's going against the identity of itself, but on the other, why is this 65 minutes long? And that question right there boils down to the reason why making an album with such a consistent sound is a double edged sword, as this album gets really repetitive and dull by the end to me.

With this said, the more accessible yet grandiose sound of the album is established from the get go by The Price, with immediately powerful guitar work that quickly settles into rhythmic staccato, already displaying the extremely satisfying interplay between each element of the band, including the vocals. As is the case with Leprous as a whole, the vocals are extremely dramatic and beautiful and act as an instrument along with the standard delivery, being able to both utilise vocalisations to provide additional depth to the more instrumentally focused passages, but then erupt and put some amazing power into other sections, especially in this opening track. These first few tracks on the whole show some of the more inspired aspects of the album, such as Third Law's absolutely incredible riffs that manage to carry such intensity, before shifting into the much steadier, more dramatic chorus, providing some great contrast while also working perfectly. Rewind is the first track to truly demonstrate one of the album's other strongest qualities however, the drumming, which while not necessarily the most complex or anything, has some of the most interesting drum patterns I've listened to, providing such a unique sound to the songs without ever feeling like a needlessly dominant force. Rewind also manages to work as well as it does due to how nicely it progresses, the consistent drum rolls gradually becoming more structured throughout until it all clicks and falls into a really great groovethat complements the song perfectly.

This is where the album begins to falter, as The Flood, while very passionate and beautiful, also feels like a step down from the previous 3 tracks, with its worst offense being how it is too long and begins to drag, the more intense moments doing very little until their climax being especially problematic as a result. That said, there's still quite a bit of power present here and it ultimately still manages to be a good song, just one that has some serious flaws. Triumphant is a far simpler song that goes for the more epic approach once again through the extremely dramatic vocals, and ends up working quite well, even if it feels a bit barebones. Similarly, Within My Fence also has a more simple approach to it, the difference being that it works exceptionally well here, with some really fun guitar work that manages to be one of the catchiest parts of the album, not to mention that the drumming here is really tightly played, with a lot of flair being packed into it and overall making the song far greater as a result.

This is where the album really begins to lose me however, but not because of the individual track quality, as this remains quite high throughout the album, it's just that it sounds like more of the same in a lot of places, and I feel like if the album were rearranged, I'd be finding similar complaints with the first 3 songs as I'm doing with Red. While this song does differentiate itself to a degree with the greater focus on the kayboard, it still has a very similar dramatic feel to it and structure, making it feel somewhat insignificant despite being another well put together and powerful song. Slave has a similar problem, but somehwat redeems this by having a genuinely amazing chorus that gives this song a distinct point of interest, even though at this point there's definitely some fatigue setting in. Moon marks the point where the album could have ended and I wouldn't have minded to such a degree, especially given that Moon is probably the best song here. For one, this is easily the best drumming on the album, keeping a very consistent pace, but throwing in a lot of stylish moments to really make it stand out. This is also one of the few songs on the album that are genuinely compelling from an atmospheric standpoint, with the hints of piano and strings providing a different enough listening experience for me to really love this, especially once it hits the halfway point and becomes considerably more intense, despite having the same sort of problem of sounding overly clean and polished. I feel that the final two songs have very similar problems to the rest of the album and end up being quite forgettable as a result of just wanting the album to end at this point, how while not bad at all, just don't do much as a result of being too much of the same sort of things we've been hearing for the last hour.

Overall, there's a lot to love in this album, but a lot wrong with it as well. The length combined with how similar a lot of these songs are in terms of sound and structure make this an album that drags on for way too long, making the latter half of the album feel very mediocre despite being full of songs that sound great when listened to in isolation. Another issue that further exacerbates this issue however is the fact that it all sounds too clean and polished, which does take a lot of the intensity away from the times where this album tries being heavy to the point where I cannot remember a single time in which harsh vocals were used effectively here. Nonetheless, Leprous' direction here was an interesting turn, and while I don't really like this as much as their previous 3 albums, it still does show potential for something more interesting regardless, even if the final product here was underwhelming.

Best tracks: The Price, Third Law, Rewind, Moon

Weakest tracks: The Flood, Triumphant, Down, Lower

Verdict: This is an album I find quite strange, as while I can say that I find the vast majority of these songs to be very well written and interesting to the point where I'd happily listen to a number of these songs individually, as a full package this misses the mark for sure. It feels overblown with how long it is, and boring for how similar everything sounds, yet I'd still recommend giving this a listen in parts just to get a taste for the album, as I wouldn't recommen it in full, but it's definitely one that I get a fair amount of enjoyment despite rarely listening to it in full.

 Coal by LEPROUS album cover Studio Album, 2013
4.03 | 458 ratings

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Coal
Leprous Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by Kempokid
Collaborator Prog Metal Team

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.

Thanks to TheProgtologist for the artist addition. and to Quinino for the last updates

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