Leprous is a rather new band from Norway. Most of the time the five musicians are the backing band of country man Ihsahn, the former frontman of Emperor. Ihsahn is a progressive black metal musician and a legend in his own right. Leprous gave countless performances as a support-act for bands as Opeth, Pagan's Mind and Therion. In 2004 they released the EP Silent Waters, their first musical effort, followed by the first official album Aeolia in 2006. The second full-length album Tall Poppy Syndrome appeared in 2009 and can be seen as their first international release that provided them some media attention.
The release of their latest album Bilateral can be regarded as a breakthrough album since it was released by InsideOut Music, a major label concerning progressive rock. On this album the band consist of Einar Solberg (lead vocals, keyboards), Tor Oddmund Suhrke (guitar, vocals), Øystein Landsverk (guitar, vocals), Rein Blomquist (bass) and Tobias Ørnes Andersen (drums). Listening to Bilateral, it's obvious that the band members were influenced by the above-mentioned groups, but I also heard to a greater or lesser extent influences of Devin Townsend, Faith No More, Symphony X, Oceansize, Korn, Muse, Enslaved, The Old Dead Tree Tool and The Mars Volta. The latter has even been visualized on the cover: Jeff Jordan designed the cover for both bands.
Most songs on Bilateral are up-tempo and sound very aggressive due to the heavy guitar parts and the grunts. However, the mellower pieces Mb, Indifferentia and Acquired Taste have a more progressive rock approach. These pieces make sure that the overall sound on the album alternates. My personal highlight, however, is the final piece Painful Detour. On this track Leprous managed to blend metal and progressive rock in such a way that it sounds as attractive as can be! On this track the strong vocal qualities of keyboard player Einar Solberg are evident. This man can sing as lovely as a child, but also screams like a death metal grunter!
I think Bilateral will be loved most by devotees of heavy-edged progressive rock music. People who like heavy guitars, powerful beats and eminent vocals should try the music of Leprous.
*** Henri Strik (edited by Peter Willemsen)
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