My Northern neighbors, compromising the western part of Scandinavia in Northern Europe under the banners of Norway, are mostly famous for the stunning and dramatic scenery haunting their mountainous and high terrain landscapes. Of course, they also deserve the credit of producing numerous and famous groundbreaking Black Metal acts like Ihsahn and Emperor both influencing the progressive metal band Leprous musically, but also on a personal level.
Leprous have been around since the early 2000s, 2001 to be exact, so categorizing them as newcomers to the prog metal scene
would be an unfair statement. My eyes and ears have been following them closely
ever since they embarked on their musical adventure with their critically
acclaimed debut album "Tall Poppy Syndrome", which was released
in May 2009. It was a blow of fresh air into the already overpopulated prog scene housing big guns like the ones of Dream Theater, Tool, Symphony X, Circus Maximus
and Anubis Gate just to name a few. They continued building their own audience and signature sound and so the more playful and mood-jumping
"Bilateral" became a reality two years later after their debut. It was followed up by their third album album "Coal", a darker and more melancholic adventure than its predecessor, and it captured my prog metal heart and soul for good.
With "The Congregation", Leprous will take the listener even further down the sinister and dark path already laid out by its predecessor "Coal", and believe me, you will never wish to look back again. This is the culmination of a long musical journey and career, but thank
god, it's running more than
one hour, and the trails it leaves will surely haunt your soul for the time coming. Some highlights worth noting are the razor sharp opener entitled "The Price", which was the first song off the album to be released as well. In addition, "Rewind", third track of the album, outshines with its beautiful and mesmerizing keyboard melodies produced by the magical fingers of frontman Einar Solberg. The shortest track of the album "Within My Fence" is a killer tune stuffed full of weird, but beautiful rhythms and aggressive riffs executed with perfection by the two skilled and dangerous axe men, Tor Suhrke and Øystein Landsverk. I keep finding myself jumping back to the heavier and more depressive "The Slave", and it rightly deserves credit for its Pink Floyd-ish touch, and for Einar's dominating and impressive vocal performance in the screaming
department, even the fiercest and brutal black metal warrior would gladly adopt him to the family. The closure song "Lower" is a perfect ending to the show of which Einar displays his very emotionally and vulnerable clean singing style to the world and
he deserves a standing ovation for his, once again, powerful demonstration behind the mic.
Overall, their latest creation has a rawer, more authentic and "down-tuned" metal vibe added to its sound compared to its predecessor "Coal", which suits it very well, and it will definitely be the right cup of tea, a big one indeed, for any die-hard Leprous fan out there. This time around, the Leprous gang also continues to stick to their well-known trademark sound (why change if the formula works, right?) and will be adding more fuel to the fire
through the progression of each individual song. For the untrained ear, the
multilayered and complex song structures can be overwhelming at times, but be
patient and let them grow on you, and the reward will be worth the weight in
gold to your ears. I cannot praise these guys enough, they are truly gifted
musicians and are a perfect example that playing with passion can go a long way.
As the great philosopher and composer Friedrich Nietzsche once wrote,
"Without music, life would be a mistake."
Well, I will rephrase that quote to "Without Leprous, life would be a mistake".
01. The Price (5:14)
02. Third Law (6:18)
03. Rewind (7:07)
04. The Flood (7:51)
05. Triumphant (4:25)
06. Within My Fence (3:16)
07. Red (6:35)
08. Slave (6:37)
09. Moon (7:13)
10. Down (6:26)
11. Lower (4:39)