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Leprous - Tall Poppy Syndrome CD (album) cover

TALL POPPY SYNDROME

Leprous

 

Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

4.13 | 364 ratings

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Kempokid
4 stars This is quite an interesting album, clearly taking influence from a range of sources, sounding like a somewhat more symphonic Opeth with more focus on interesting song structures, overlaid vocals, and more eclecticism, with an overall greater amount of bombast. Furthermore, I feel like there is slightly more of a black metal tinge compared to death metal, mostly for its very particular atmosphere it creates, along with the more raw, instrumentation that can take place during the heavier moments. That said, it is certainly on the much lighter side of this subgenre, since there are heavy overtones of symphonic elements along with more classic metal.

Passing starts off more or less hitting every box in which the album attempts to tick, with heavy guitar tones and powerful riffs juxtaposed by the soft vocals sounding somewhat similar to Ross Jennings of Haken. The song mostly centres itself around the classic loud soft dynamic, but makes this the focus of the track, with the soft vocal verses building up to the heavier riffs and screaming, before dying back down once again, with beautiful soft passages filled with classically inspired piano melodies, before Einar Solberg belts out his voice screaming "Tonight I'm passing away", which is then followed by someone who sound quite similar to Emperor's Ihsahn, bringing the song to an excellent close. Phantom Pain is a most fun, casually entertaining song, starting off softly before a sudden flurry of hit piano keys and blast beats kicks in and the song becomes far more bombastic, as the screams and catchy chorus are both backed by blast beats, making the song incredibly fun to listen to, due to how much wilder it is while still maintaining a degree of accessibility, despite the all around very heavy instrumental work, and rougher vocals. Dare You is a less immediately enjoyable song and doesn't quite stand out compared to some others, but is structurally interesting, merely having a chorus that appears twice, and is sandwiched between long stretches of instrumental work. The bookends of this track are quite djent oriented in approach, being extremely rhythmic, with a constant stop-start motion to it. It's the middle section that I find to be the most interesting aspect of the song however, breaking into some really pleasant, smooth, jazzy basslines. Fate is definitely the weakest song on the album by quite a wide margin, being a very bland ballad that has a major lack of any sort of impact at all, just boredom spanning the 5 minutes it goes for.

The second half of the album is where I feel things really pick up and become much more interesting, with He Will Kill Again being an excellent example of this. All in all, this is one of my absolute favourite songs by the band as a whole, being much more in vein with standard prog metal, while also going off on some interesting tangents, for one, the extremely theatrical nature of the chorus is nothing short of majestic, and the way it breaks down into a groovy, piano led melody. The latter is particularly great once the bass is introduced to it, going absolutely all over the place and really driving the song forward. The guitar solo near the end is also nothing short of amazing, and is definitely a large part of the reason why this song is a blast to listen all the way through. Not Even A Name sounds more like what I'd expect a softer song by this band to sound like, simply being more restrained in nature, rather than completely devoid of anything of interest, as this has a nice balance between some of the most melodious and most instense aspectsof the band's sound, with the slower moments being of note, all in all being very competent. While most people state that Tall Poppy Syndrome is the weakest track on this album, I personally find it to be a great instrumental with use of spoken word that I really like, and a really cool three chord motif that runs throughout. The best track of this album is easily its final one, White, being the most climactic, epic song the band has made, with minimal use of lyrics, almost solely repeating the same phrases and melody throughout, but becoming more desperate and intense each time through, unti lit ends up being sung in a higher key and considerably faster, which I find to be really well implemented here and definitely a big reason why I think this song is so great.

While this album is not perfect by any means, I do love the variation and experimentation present here, taking clear inspiration from other bands, yet twisting it into a different sound, complete with some interesting song structures and unforgettable melodies. This is definitely a great debut record from a band that would go on to further develop and refine their sound many times over, showcasing the ambition they clearly had while still definitely caring about the enjoyability factor while doing so, leading to an album equal parts challenging and fun.

Best songs: Passing, He Will Kill Again, White

Weakest songs: Fate

Verdict: Definitely one of the more accessible albums featured in this subgenre of prog metal, but definitely still filled with tasteful intensity throughout, combined with prominent symphonic elements, providing a highly entertaining album all around.

Kempokid | 4/5 |

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