Sunday, October 9, 2011

Leprous - Bilateral

Leprous
Bilateral
Inside Out Music/Century Media Records/E.M.I. Music Australia

For a lot of so-called modern day progressive metal acts, influences generally begin and end with Dream Theater. Granted, some do vary their sound by incorporating a bit of a melodic edge, or taking their sound into more of the power metal side of things. But by and large, there are a lot of acts attempting to emulate Dream Theater’s style and sound, and it sounds like it.
But not all progressive acts have the same set of ideas; and positive proof of one act that’s definitely doing something fresh and different within the progressive rock/metal realm is Norwegian based outfit Leprous.
Founded ten years ago, Leprous have within that time produced an E.P. (2004’s ‘Silent Waters’) and two full-length efforts (2006’s ‘Aeolia’ and ‘Tall Poppy Syndrome’) - all of which have been met with a positive response.
But despite all this, Leprous have remained a fairly underground act for the most part, with the group gaining more attention for their role as ex-Emperor front man Ihsahn’s live backing band.
But after several years in the wilderness, the five piece act (Who comprise of vocalist/keyboardist Einar Solberg, guitarist/vocalist Tor Oddmund Suhrke, guitarist/backing vocalist Øystein Landsverk, newly added bassist Rein T. Blomquist and drummer Tobias Ørnes Andersen) have moved on from Sensory Records and signed up with Inside Out Music - delivering their latest effort in ‘Bilateral’. And what a release it is.
The opening title track ‘Bilateral’ literally lives up to its name, with the band fusing together strong melodies and unconventional approaches to progressive rock’s typical song writing structures. Yes, some of the familiar technically inclined musicianship traits still exist within the song, but it’s not the entire basis of Leprous’ approach to song structure. Instead, the band focus on giving the listener something a little unexpected (The odd time changes, and the equally odd sounds and textures on the musical front), all the while keeping things melodic, catchy and infectious with Solberg’s incredible voice.
The lengthy ten minute epic follow up track ‘Forced Entry’ is a definite stand out on the album, with the guitarists providing some innovative and varied passages of riff/lead work, while Solberg’s showcases his extraordinary range throughout, especially on the screamed efforts towards the song climatic close.
‘Restless’ brings to mind a melodic variation of U.K. outfit Oceansize in places, but is otherwise a deceptively complex and dense masterpiece of progressive rock, while ‘Thorn’ (Which features a guest vocal appearance from Ihsahn) is another noteworthy track with the song drifting into heavy territory, all the while incorporating trumpets into the hybrid mix of sounds. It all sounds a little avant-garde in the vein of Pain Of Salvation, and that’s a good thing.
Elsewhere, ‘Mb. Indifferentia’ echoes some of the more melancholy and free flowing/ever changing mood of Porcupine Tree (As to does the operatic influenced ‘Acquired Taste’), while the effects driven ‘Waste Of Air’ is by far the album’s strangest and heaviest track, and definitely a personal favourite.
For the remainder of the album, Leprous maintain the heavier sound of the former track through ‘Mediocrity Wins’ and the quirky ‘Cryptogenic Desires’, before closing out the album with the extended polyrhythmic jam of ‘Painful Detour’.
Progressive rock/metal is supposed to be exploratory and adventurous, and take the listener on a journey where expecting the unexpected is the norm. And if ‘Bilateral’ is anything to go by, then it’s clear that Leprous have a firm grasp on what the genre is all about.
How the album fares in the future is still unknown. But in my book, this is easily one of my favourite progressive rock/metal albums of 2011.

For more information on Leprous, check out – http://www.myspace.com/leprousband

© Justin Donnelly