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LEPROUS

Tech/Extreme Prog Metal • Norway


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Leprous biography
LEPROUS are a Tech/Extreme band from Norway. Founded in 2001 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!

Leprous official website

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CongregationCongregation
Inside Out Music 2015
Audio CD$12.99
Tall Poppy SyndromeTall Poppy Syndrome
LASER'S EDGE GROUP 2009
Audio CD$9.99
$10.13 (used)
CoalCoal
Inside Out 2013
Audio CD$8.09
$11.56 (used)
BilateralBilateral
Inside Out U.S. 2011
Audio CD$9.75
$73.04 (used)
Bilateral by Leprous [Music CD]Bilateral by Leprous [Music CD]
Inside Out U.S.
Audio CD$29.63
Coal by Leprous [Music CD]Coal by Leprous [Music CD]
Inside Out U.S.
Audio CD$29.63
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LEPROUS shows & tickets


  • FortaRock 2015 on 6 Jun 2015
  • Metropolis Fest on 25 Jun 2015
  • UK Tech-Fest on 9 Jul 2015
  • Be Prog! My Friend on 11 Jul 2015
  • Leprous + Rendezvous Point at Garage, Bergen on 25 Sep 2015
  • Euroblast Festival 11 on 1 Oct 2015
  • Progpower Europe 2015 on 2 Oct 2015
  • Leprous + Rendezvous Point at Forbrændingen, Albertslund on 2 Oct 2015
  • Leprous + Rendezvous Point + Sphere (NO) at Divan du Monde, Paris on 5 Oct 2015
  • Leprous + Rendezvous Point at Le Ferrailleur, Nantes on 6 Oct 2015
  • Leprous on 8 Oct 2015
  • Leprous + Rendezvous Point + Sphere (NO) at Caracol, Madrid on 9 Oct 2015
  • Leprous + Rendezvous Point + Sphere (NO) at Garaje Beat Club, Murcia on 10 Oct 2015
  • Leprous + Rendezvous Point + Sphere (NO) at La[2], Barcelona on 11 Oct 2015
  • Leprous + Rendezvous Point at Ninkasi, Lyon on 12 Oct 2015
  • Leprous + Until Rain + Rendezvous Point at The Garage, London on 13 Oct 2015
  • Leprous + Rendezvous Point at Ruby Lounge, Manchester on 14 Oct 2015
  • Leprous + Rendezvous Point at Fleece, Bristol on 15 Oct 2015
  • Leprous + Rendezvous Point at Rockcafe Jan Hertog, Maasmechelen on 16 Oct 2015
  • Leprous + Rendezvous Point at Substage, Karlsruhe on 17 Oct 2015
  • Leprous + Rendezvous Point at Backstage, Munich on 18 Oct 2015
  • Leprous + Rendezvous Point at Legend Club (ex- legend 54), Milano on 19 Oct 2015
  • Leprous "The Congregation" Tour on 23 Oct 2015
  • Leprous + Rendezvous Point at Majestic Music Club, Bratislava on 24 Oct 2015
  • Leprous + Rendezvous Point at Hudební Klub Nová Chmelnice, Praha on 25 Oct 2015
  • Leprous + Rendezvous Point + Sphere (NO) at Progresja Music Zone, Warszawa on 26 Oct 2015
  • Leprous + Rendezvous Point at Corsairs Rock Café, Riga on 27 Oct 2015
  • Leprous + Rendezvous Point at Nosturi, Helsinki on 28 Oct 2015
  • Leprous + Rendezvous Point + Sphere (NO) at Bryggarsalen, Stockholm on 30 Oct 2015
  • Leprous + Rendezvous Point at John Dee, Oslo on 31 Oct 2015

LEPROUS discography


Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help Progarchives.com to complete the discography and add albums

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

3.82 | 70 ratings
Aeolia
2006
4.15 | 250 ratings
Tall Poppy Syndrome
2009
3.94 | 335 ratings
Bilateral
2011
4.01 | 254 ratings
Coal
2013
4.70 | 9 ratings
The Congregation
2015

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

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

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)

4.50 | 2 ratings
Silent Waters
2004

LEPROUS Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 The Congregation by LEPROUS album cover Studio Album, 2015
4.70 | 9 ratings

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The Congregation
Leprous Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by Mattone

5 stars My expectations were very high with this one. I loved all the Leprous' albums, but I know that every band has to decline, one day. That day has not come yet for Leprous.

When I first listened to the single, "The Price", I totally fell in love with it: the perfect combination of complexity and simplicity, a catchy song with challenging rhythms and powerful arrangement. Then it was the time of "Rewind", which is the third track on the album: from the moving intro to the mindblowing outro, passing through the memorable bass performance... another great song!

So, I first listened to the entire album knowing that it could possibly have more surprises for my ears. But I couldn't imagine how much this supposition was going to be confirmed. "Third Law" features absurd drum patterns and a very rigid performance by everyone. I think it's one of the less beautiful songs on the album, but it's still very positive. "The Flood" and "Triumphant" are simply two masterpieces in a row, the first being a kind of sick power ballad with sounds which appear to be quite new for the band, the second being a sort of epic and energetic march, featuring some of the most amazing grooves of the whole Leprous' discography, and a great chorus. "Within My Fence" closes the first half of the album in a positive, yet not perfect way, since it's probably the less convincing song on the album, though featuring a great drum performance, but no great ideas here.

The second half of the album features more complex and extended songs: four of them in a row are not shorter than six and a half minutes, while the last returns to the four minutes standard. "Red" is an unique journey made of impossible-to-follow grooves and unconventional solutions for the band sound. The instrumental section is just out of my words' reach. "Slave" is an absurdly tragic and obscure song, with a great chorus and a great synergy between guitars and keyboards: together they form an atmosphere worth of the sickest horror movie (but still not fit for it: this song would totally stole the attention from the film). "Moon" features a very interesting electric piano line, together with a great drum performance. It probably goes on too long with the same structures, but they are so good that the overall impression can be nothing but positive. "Down" marks one of the band's highlights, with an incredibly catchy chorus and other powerful grooves used in the intro and in other sections. Some drum fills are totally mindblowing here! The album ends with the graceful "Lower": a tender keyboard intro is blown away by a powerful chorus, just to return a while later in a totally moving arrangement. The special edition also features the bonus track "Pixel", which is ok but frankly nothing special at all.

Wholly considered, "The Congregation" can surely be mentioned as one of this year's best releases, and in my opinion it will be hard for whoever will try to surpass Leprous to manage doing it... once again!

9/10 (five stars, considering his ranking in my personal Top 2015 album list)

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 The Congregation by LEPROUS album cover Studio Album, 2015
4.70 | 9 ratings

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The Congregation
Leprous Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by Daggor

5 stars Review Except from Black Wind Metal Full review posted at blackwindmetal.com/leprous-the-congregation/

Coal's introspective, dark aesthetic was controversial, and I recall a lot of disappointment from critics two years ago. I do not expect there to be nearly as much dissent this time around, however. The usual Leprous quirks are present: heavily syncopated riffs, repetitive passages with slight melodic and harmonic alterations, and Einar Solberg's vocal dynamics. On top of that, there is the album's particular sound, which incorporates attempts at a more emotional impact, post-metal tonality and tremolo picking, and a rising and falling of intensity throughout. New drummer Baard Kolstad puts on an absolutely phenomenal performance, similar to and rivaling John Douglas' performances on Anathema's Weather Systems and Distant Satellites.

Opening track and first single "The Price" hints at the band taking a more a djent-inspired direction, and the first minute of "Third Law" doesn't do much to dispel that notion. The band is playing more and more with 7 and 8 string guitars and extremely heavy syncopation at times. It continues in what I can best describe as "Josh Homme singing over Tesseract riffs being played at double speed". This somehow leads into the chorus, which is among the album's most memorable (but of course, like every great album, it is but one of many outstanding choruses). The chorus dominates much of the rest of the song. It also dominates my dreams, my nightmares, and battles for my very soul.

There's going to be a lot of talk about "The Flood", and rightly so. I believe both reviews I've seen thus far have mentioned it as a standout. There are portions that strike a similar vein as Coal's "The Valley" but this song is shorter and more direct. There is a combination of synth effects and an incredibly deep guitar, possibly a down-tuned 7 or 8 string, playing a heartbeat throughout most of the song. The chorus is every bit as massive as anything the band has written yet, and the heartbeat has a tremendously dramatic impact. The bridge is reminiscent of the second half of "Foe", again from Coal, before giving way to the, and I repeat for emphasis: Absolutely. Massive. Chorus. I don't want to give away all the secrets in store, but this song is incredible. All the superlatives you're seeing heaped on it are true. That being said, if anyone has said anything bad about this song, I'm sorry, but there's nothing I can do about the haters. We've all got to suffer them together.

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 Coal by LEPROUS album cover Studio Album, 2013
4.01 | 254 ratings

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Coal
Leprous Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by aglasshouse

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 getting better and better as time goes by. Let me explain why this album is so great.

As you can see, they reverted to their original short number of long tracks on the album instead of more short songs. This time, I feel like they knew their way after BILATERAL how to deal with their sound. In fact, they perfected it from the last time they used it. Their longer longer tracks show this change in a very positive light.

There are some of my favorite metal songs of all time on this album as well, such as 'Chronic', 'Coal', and 'The Valley'. None of the songs are bad; in fact, all of them are at the least 4.5/5 rating songs. The album has an even number of tracks, so I can easily split it up into two different parts. Therefore, I shall rate both parts of the album as it's own.

The original part is good, aside from the slightly boring 'Foe'. Is immediately salvaged by the second track 'Chronic', which takes their slower music and gives us a hugely suspenseful buildup. The second part is equally good, with the amazing 'The Valley'. I totally recommend this album for any metal or a prog fan for that matter.

Go give it a listen.

(Originally Written for the Metal Music Archives on 2014-10-27)

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 Bilateral by LEPROUS album cover Studio Album, 2011
3.94 | 335 ratings

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Bilateral
Leprous Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by aglasshouse

5 stars "Bilateral" is the second studio album by the Norwegian metal act Leprous.

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

However, I love everything about this band.

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

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

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

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

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

Go give it a listen.

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

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 Bilateral by LEPROUS album cover Studio Album, 2011
3.94 | 335 ratings

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Bilateral
Leprous Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by FXM

1 stars Appreciation of music is a very subjective thing as we all know. Norway's Leprous are regarding as a rising star of progressive metal. I purchased their album Bilateral when it was released in 2011 thinking that as it was on the Inside Out label it would be a quality piece of music. How wrong I was!!!

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

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

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

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

One star is being generous.

p.s. I do like the album cover.

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 Aeolia by LEPROUS album cover Studio Album, 2006
3.82 | 70 ratings

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Aeolia
Leprous Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by thwok

4 stars Aeolia is disrespected by several fellow reviewers on PA. Since Leprous was apparently quite reluctant to release this to the general public, the band members seem to feel the same way about it. I frankly don't understand it. I don't see Aeolia as a flawed precursor to Leprous' official releases, and I'm giving it four stars.

I think the sound quality on this "demo" is perfectly acceptable. I can hear all the instruments, and that's all I care about. I'm not an audiophile, and practically every kind of music player available today allows you to adjust the sound quality of what you're listening to. Therefore, you can change the sound of the music you're listening to as you see fit. I've heard all of Leprous' albums, and I recently listened to Coal before I started composing this review. Some folks say that Aeolia is too scattered, too "weird". That's what I like about Aeolia; I found Coal, which is regarded as more focused, dull by comparison.

Leprous' musical abilities have been well covered by others, so I won't. "Disclosure" and "Eye of the Storm" are a couple of my favorite tracks, but there aren't any bad ones on "Aeolia". I thank God that someone talked the band into releasing Aeolia so we could all enjoy it. This is definitely an 4 star "excellent addition to any collection".

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 Aeolia by LEPROUS album cover Studio Album, 2006
3.82 | 70 ratings

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Aeolia
Leprous Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by Gallifrey

3 stars Bungle Origins

I was both surprised and not surprised to find that Aeolia was actually a pretty decent album. Surprised because of its reputation as the band's disowned debut, choosing to always list Tall Poppy Syndrome as their first album, and obviously the big glaring 'DEMO' tag, as well as its length. But then again, this is Leprous, one of the most unique and interesting bands in modern progressive metal, they can't have come from nothing. The Leprous sound is very evident on Aeolia, although it's clear that there was a lot of work done after it. To be honest, if I had heard this at the time, I would never have predicted a masterpiece like Bilateral coming out of this band, but it's clear that that sound is evident.

For one, the avant-garde aspect of Leprous' music is far more evident here, even taking the forefront over the progressive on a lot of the songs. They choose to open 'Disclosure' with a weird and eclectic Mr. Bungle-style piano/wah break, which is honestly one of the weirdest things they have done, and in my opinion sets a terribly tone for the album. Apart from this part, 'Disclosure' is undeniably the best song here, and with a bit of tweaking, could even rank amongst their more recent material. The song is built around a very strong melodic chorus, carrying an excellent melody and Einar's trademark voice. Although his vocals are a shade of what they would become, you can certainly hear some of the unique approach to screams that came onto Bilateral.

Unfortunately, as decent as 'Disclosure' is, this album is insanely top-heavy, with the next best tracks all following straight after it. The album really starts to lose it by the time 'The Great Beast' comes in, a great monstrosity of a wankfest, even going as far as to having the opening with time signatures of 7/8 and 16/12 alternating (and to everyone who says 16/12 isn't a time signature, please learn more theory and shut the [%*!#] up). The song plays with some LOUDASHELL/softashell dynamics in its verse, and I do understand what they're aiming at, but boy is it corny. The following track 'Indecisive' isn't necessarily a bad song, but it features a really, really irritating chorus featuring Einar and another vocalist flinging lines at each other, and it gets stuck in your head in the most infuriating of times.

But even of the good songs here, there are still some downsides. 'Black Stains' is a pretty good song with a nice groove and a bridge that sounds straight of Tall Poppy Syndrome, but for some odd reason Leprous decide to throw in the weirdest piano break ever which splits the song completely and nearly kills the good vibes from the melodies. 'Aeolus Shadow' opens with an absolutely blistering riff, playing one of the best chord progression I have heard, and although this progression is amazing and the way Einar flies over the top wailing like a synth is the perfect way to develop it, the entire song feels weak, and I honestly think it's a waste of such a great progression.

For every nice moment on Aeolia, there is an equally frustrating moment of juvenile weakness. I am glad that Leprous decided to drop the cheesy avant-garde and focus on the prog, because this music is hard to take seriously sometimes. This album is not without promise, and I really am waiting for them to bring back some of the piano from this album ' the massive solo in 'Disclosure' reminds me of the massively self-indulgent one Matt Bellamy pulled in the middle of 'Butterflies & Hurricanes', and it is truly awesome. Aeolia's sound is decent at best with moments of greatness and moments of embarrassment. The production here, being a demo, is also a bit of a barrier ' in spite of all the great melodies, the average production means that Einar's voice often sounds quite weak, especially when he's singing in harmony with himself. I wouldn't recommend it to a casual fan, since their studio albums do it so much better, but it's certainly not a bad album by any means, and hardcore fans will definitely find something to enjoy.

6.6

Originally written for my facebook page/blog: Facebook.com/neoprogisbestprog

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 Coal by LEPROUS album cover Studio Album, 2013
4.01 | 254 ratings

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Coal
Leprous Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by Gallifrey

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 feelings about Coal pretty well, with a few differences ? the main one being that I had no expectations for that album, but I was hoping for a 10/10 masterpiece from this. Every time I come back to this record, no matter how much I have learn to love it, I still feel ever so slightly disappointed, because it could have been better. Coal certainly has the melodic material to constitute an album as good as Bilateral, but it missed the mark on so many tracks, and many moments here feel half-assed, as if Leprous were writing on autopilot. But as my ever-increasing rating for this album implies, I really, really like it now. Every time I hear it, I still slightly wish they had done things differently, but I can't deny that this is a logical continuation of Bilateral.

Many people have noted the 'static' element that Coal holds, and that may have been what made me so disappointed at first. The songs here don't push too many moods at once; they don't fly from ridiculous to ridiculous; they are more concise and focused, staying on one mood or melody for longer times, and building the songs to crescendos and endings as opposed to puzzles of fiddly bits. I would argue that Bilateral still did this better ? a track like "Forced Entry", even if it is dozens of melodies thrown together, still feels like it has a concise direction. Coal boasts three 9-minute tracks, and of them, none of them really feel their length. "Echo", the longest one here, builds entirely around a rather basic melody, but with its beautifully subtle chorus, creates a fantastic mood that it drags out to the end of oblivion. Whether this is a good thing or not is up to you, and I'll admit ? I didn't really like it at first. Even now, the midsections of "Echo" and "The Valley", and the final two minutes of opener "Foe" still get on my nerves a bit in their repetitiveness. I can appreciate focusing on build and theme and mood, but sometimes it's just too much, and no part of me really wants to hear Einar sing the same few notes in 7/8 for two whole [%*!#]ing minutes. And the fact is, by the time they're done, all sense of mood from the fantastic first half has vanished, and the intro to "Chronic" is nowhere near as punching.

But I'll try and stay away from being too negative about this album, because the fact is that now I really like it, and I do believe it holds a good place in the Leprous discography, even if it is the weakest of their studio albums. As I mentioned ? for the first three minutes, "Foe" is absolutely glistening. I have praised Einar's voice to the end of the universe in my review for Bilateral, but I feel this could even be his best yet, creating such a punching feeling over the syncopated guitar and drums. He sings so high up in his range, yet every syllable smashes the note in the face with a mallet, to the point where "punchy" doesn't even cover it. The song's chorus is another testament to the great vocal technique that he began on Bilateral, although it is the only true appearance of it on this album. The way he melodically screams "sentiMENTAAALL" is as spinechilling as it is impressive, but I still can't help but complain about the way the song ends (again).

On the whole, Coal features a series of tracks that don't really achieve masses on their own, but add to a bigger picture in their own way. There's no denying that I would be impressed like hell by this album if I hadn't already heard their other stuff, but in comparison, I'm used to hearing a Leprous song have 15 fantastic hooks, not just one. The album really hits its stride with the title track though, although "Chronic" is decent, it feels a bit like a Leprous-doing-Leprous song. The Title track here, however, is unlike anything they have ever done, and honestly unlike anything I have heard in metal. The song is insanely groovy, putting all its energy around that toe- tappingly good beat that never dies throughout the track's rather lengthy (for a song of its sort) duration. Some of this track could even be called quite djenty, if Leprous had not opted for a far more bearable guitar tone. The song is undeniably one of the heaviest songs the band have ever done, but for once I'm actually loving this metal side. I complained on both the previous albums about the guitar tone, but here, it's just so damn groovy. The tone is thick and chunky, dark and murky, and is accentuated perfectly by some of the best drumming I have ever heard.

Oh yeah, I should really mention the drums, because they are one of the things that make this album, and not just because of how they're played. The title track, after its first chorus, spins into a ferociously intense 'breakdown', with guitars being chopped and edited and spiraled in circles, and those drums playing all sorts of spastic tones. It's seriously such a thing to behold, the way these drums make chaos into unfiltered awesomeness through their tone and placement. The snare and kick both have such a round and punchy sound that meshes with the guitar tone so well. The other time when the drums come forward is during the rather divisive closer "Contaminate Me", which received my award for best drum performance of 2013. From the glitchy grace notes that adorn the snare during the verses to the sprawling and chaotic smash-fest that comes under Ihsahn's black metal rage at the end, this song is created almost entirely to showcase how [%*!#]ing good these drums sound, and even though I wasn't a fan of this track at first, I can't help but be enthralled by the sounds on offer here.

Musically though, this track is very divisive for me personally, and is the first Leprous track since Aeolia to really embrace their avant-garde metal side full-on. I think the reason I was a bit shocked by it at first was that it really didn't sound like a Leprous song, but I sort of came to the realisation that if I had heard it on one of Ihsahn's solo records, I would be impressed. I'm still not completely sold on it, and it's almost entirely down to the man himself. I want to love his vocals here. I mean, this is basically Leprous going full avant-garde black metal for the first time, and Ihsahn, the king of black metal, is taking the lead vocally. And honestly, I didn't mind his part in "Thorn" from Bilateral, and on his solo albums his screams are pretty inoffensive, but holy [&*!#] I can't stand his vocals here. But it's like he's not trying. I know that Ihsahn can hit that glory spot in his screams, the "crisp" and "crunchy" texture that he gives them, but a lot of these screams are without that, he's gasping for grip on that harshness, and many of them sound like a dying pig, or like a cool 13-year-old who is trying to learn how to be kvlt. Don't get me wrong, I love the idea of the ridiculous drums and guitars and Ihsahn screaming "CONTAMMINAATEE MAAAYYYAYAYYYAY" in the most menacing way, but I really just wish he hit the notes a bit better. As much as I love the idea of this track ? and if I had read "Leprous ends this record with a 9-minute epic that starts of melodically then spirals into atmospheric avant-garde black metal chaos with Ihsahn screaming feelings everywhere" I would have been very excited, but this just doesn't hit it.

Of the less metal tracks here, every song has a chorus or lead melody that is really fantastic. I mean, this is Leprous, and they've always had strong choruses, but my problems lie in that the songs lean on them way too hard. Both the epic "The Valley" and ballad track "The Cloak" have stunning choruses that would rank among the best on the previous two records, but the rest of the song always seems to be building to it instead of finding its own identity, and no matter how good the choruses are, they cannot hold aloft a whole song. "The Valley" utilises a dreamy and atmospheric bridge that is quite nice honestly until it keeps going for 45 minutes, culminating in one of the best syncopated guitar patterns on the record, and that final chorus. Oh yeah, it's good, but take it away and the song is mediocre at best.

Coal is a very different record for Leprous. The songs all have strong centres, but the rest of the music floats around it, unlike on Bilateral and Tall Poppy Syndrome, where the songs were built out of several strong themes that could all stand on their own if necessary. I do love this record, and its purpose as "the dark brooding one" is evident, and I guess I can never complain about a band changing up their style. This album is dark and intense, it is their heaviest yet, but it is also somehow their most accessible. I know some people who have never been a fan of them come to like this album, so what do I know. Well, I know that I was wrong about Coal, as much as I am still disappointed in it. Leprous can do know wrong, and this is evidence of that.

8.5

Originally written for my Facebook page/blog: facebook.com/neoprogisbestprog

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 Bilateral by LEPROUS album cover Studio Album, 2011
3.94 | 335 ratings

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Bilateral
Leprous Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by Gallifrey

5 stars The Scream

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

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

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

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

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

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

Oh.

Oh.

Wow.

What the hell was that?

Jesus.

Is he making that with his mouth?

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

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

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

It happens again.

And it's bigger.

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

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

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

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

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

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

9.5

Originally written for my Facebook page/blog: facebook.com/neoprogisbestprog

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 Tall Poppy Syndrome by LEPROUS album cover Studio Album, 2009
4.15 | 250 ratings

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Tall Poppy Syndrome
Leprous Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by Progrussia

4 stars Leprous mix extreme metal with various clean metal subgenres - from power to melancholic. That by itself is not original - lots of bands were doing this in the zeros. But Leprous are more diverse that average, and also feature one of the more impressive vocal gymnasts out there. Song structures on their second, or first properly produced, album, are quite progressive and inventive, with lots of twists and turns. Too bad they concentrate too much on the extreme/normal metal dynamic and not enough on unexpected detours such as falsetto outro in Passing or lounge piano popping up here and there. A capella even makes a brief appearance.

Overall, this is probably Leprous most diverse and in-your-face-see-what we can do album. Also has more guitar solos. Later ones are more streamlined and delve further into post rock and Brit pop, but are still recognizably Leprous.

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