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Leprous - The Congregation CD (album) cover




Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

3.95 | 585 ratings

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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.

Kempokid | 3/5 |


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