Leprous – The Congregation (Inside Out Music)Sunday, 17th May 2015
Progressive metal has been a healthy sub-genre for decades – it probably helps that the degree of musicianship and passionate fan base keep anticipation on high for new product and touring/festival action. Hailing from Norway, Leprous has been one of the head turners in a Scandinavian territory talent rich (Pagan’s Mind, Circus Maximus, etc.) since their 2001 start point. They’ve also been seasoned live road warriors behind Ihsahn’s solo efforts from 2010-2014 – which also draws some attention back to their creative endeavors.
The Congregation is their fifth studio full length, and impressive in the sense that the quintet are able to churn out steady output every two years when many other ‘bigger’ bands may take significantly longer (looking at you Fates Warning and Symphony X). These 11 songs explore sonic contrasts at all ends of the spectrum – jagged, frantic instrumental passages sitting side by side with streamlined simplistic power chords or emotionally charged clean melodies that keeps the aural airwaves and brain stem exhilarated. Intertwining shorter arrangements like “Triumphant” and “Within My Fence” mid-album makes the relatively longer efforts (never hitting past the 8 minute mark) a breeze to consume, because Leprous maintain that musically impressive nature against obvious hooks throughout from a Baard Kolstad drum groove to a Tor Oddmund Suhrke/ Øystein Landsverk repetitive guitar sequence, building and building in layered intensity.
Keyboardist Einar Solberg places his work in subtle flourishes, careful to accent the right mood and movement of each arrangement. Check out “Red” or the Anathema-like “Moon” to understand his role… beyond the obvious stellar vocal capacity and performance he delivers time and time again for Leprous. Theatrical yet never overbearing, he can hold notes out for days in lower, mid-range, and high registers. He handles the stair step nature of “The Price” very professionally, the slight djent nature of the guitar and drum interplay never losing direction or technical over-complication, while “Down” stretches Einar into Pain of Salvation meets Tool chill bump zones.
Just when I thought they couldn’t eclipse the majestic Coal, they prove to elevate their efforts again through The Congregation. An ideal record that grows deeper and more fulfilling after successive listens, may the legions expand to Leprous, as this is life changing progressive metal that moves mind, body, and spirit.