LEPROUS — The Congregation

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LEPROUS - The Congregation cover
4.11 | 20 ratings | 3 reviews
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Album · 2015

Filed under Progressive Metal
By LEPROUS

Tracklist

1. The Price (5:14)
2. Third Law (6:18)
3. Rewind (7:07)
4. The Flood (7:51)
5. Triumphant (4:25)
6. Within My Fence (3:16)
7. Red (6:35)
8. Slave (6:37)
9. Moon (7:13)
10. Down (6:26)
11. Lower (4:34)

Total Time 65:36

Bonus track on CD, LP
12. Pixel (5:15)

Line-up/Musicians

- Tor Oddmund Suhrke / Guitars, backing vocals
- Einar Solberg / Keyboards, Vocals
- Øystein Landsverk / Guitars, backing vocals
- Martin Skrebergene / Bass
- Baard Kolstad / Drums

About this release

Released by InsideOut on May 25th 2015.

Thanks to Unitron for the addition and adg211288, siLLy puPPy for the updates

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LEPROUS THE CONGREGATION reviews

Specialists/collaborators reviews

Warthur
On The Congregation, Leprous shift their musical style a little closer to the border between progressive metal and progressive rock; aggression, volume, and heavy riffs are played down in importance next to the melodic aspects of the music, as well as the keyboard work of synth-wiz and vocalist Einar Solberg. Here and there the approach has been compared to Muse, which sort of makes sense - in particular, to me it brings to mind Muse's Origin of Symmetry, since both albums have a very similar sense of unfettered exuberance, with both bands shifting away from the musical style of previous releases to follow a new sound with unwavering dedication, heedless of how overblown things may become.

The end result is a substantially more accessible Leprous release than any other I've heard, but whilst it's a good entry point to their music, it's also a solid development of what's come before which will have something new to offer seasoned fans too.
voila_la_scorie
“The Congregation” by Norwegian progressive metal band Leprous first caught my attention when I saw it had made the top ten of the Prog Archives Top 100 of 2015. The artwork in particular intrigued me. I had sampled a bit of the band’s music earlier after hearing about their album “Bilateral”, but at the time there was nothing that bowled me over. After watching the video for “The Price” however, I felt certain that there was something for me on this album and at last I brought it home a few weeks ago.

To be sure, there are many great things to be said about the record. The music is largely if not entirely comprised of drums, bass, two electric guitars, some keyboards, and singer Einar Solberg’s voice. There seems to me to very little in the way of overdubs and it occurred to me that there are next to no guitar solos, perhaps none at all. The musical arrangement sounds as if these boys were given an eight track recorder and told to try not to use the extra two tracks whenever possible. Thus the sound is rather sparse with only the five instruments and the vocals, though in at least two songs a rougher, angrier voice comes in which seems to be a guest appearance by Ihsahn.

It’s not just the lack of instruments or overdubs that make the music here sound sparse. It’s also how the instruments are employed throughout the songs. There are many songs that include simple riffs where the chords are played out in short bursts at odd intervals. The drums are often the busiest instrument, keeping a lively pattern going while the guitars strike with these simple chords: da-daah-dum, da-daa, da-da, da-daah-dum. The keyboards mostly provide atmosphere and sometimes play instead of the guitars so that with a simple bass and a roving drum pattern, the vocals float overtop a barely populated space. This works very well when listening to specific tracks, and for my money, the music reaches is best potential on “Rewind”.

There is unfortunately a negative aspect to the album’s musical approach and that is that there isn’t much else going on. I recognize that this may be exactly what the band were shooting for. I read that they felt “Bilateral” was a little too all over the place in moods and they wanted “Coal” to be more focused and darker. Maybe they were trying to carry that on with “The Congregation”. The album cover very well describes the feeling of the music inside. It’s grey, there might be animal skulls, or possible some mutation or grafting. There might be a struggle and possibly a strong melancholy feel that needs overcoming. It’s possible to pick almost any two or three songs and get a good feel for the album because there is little variety in the music here. It sounds good and creative and interesting. But the formula gets stretched across the entire 11 tracks and the 12 track serving as a bonus track doesn’t exactly throw anything new our way.

If this were a new band with a tight budget, I’s say they really worked their way around their restrictions. As for what I actually have here before me, it’s a great effort with some quality song-writing. I’d just prefer some other components present to help make a few more tracks really stand out for me.
siLLy puPPy
In the modern world of progressive metal it seems very few bands can find their footing, much less incrementally improve upon every subsequent release but Norwegian progressive metal band LEPROUS is proving to be the exception by releasing one outstanding album after the other and with their fourth studio release THE CONGREGATION they show no signs of breaking this trend anytime soon despite experiencing a somewhat unstable lineup since their formation. On CONGREGATION we see the departure of bassist Rein Blomquist who is replaced Simen Daniel Børven and the exit stage right of Tobias Ørnes Andersen who is replaced by Baard Kolstad. Both of the new musicians fit it quite well with the style, groove and approach laid out by frontman and guitarist Tor Oddmund Suhke and it could almost be stated that their addition brings a fuller more congruous sound to the LEPROUS legacy.

While not substantially different than “Coal,” LEPROUS seems to up their game subtly in every department. First and foremost they excel at strong songwriting with melodic hooks and knowing how to let certain instruments lead and follow. This formula is impeccably utilized throughout the entire album always serving the strong melodic hooks while adding the proper ingredients to wring out every possible potential lurking in the spaces between notes. I have always found LEPROUS masters at this game whether it be there knack for the spastic staccato approach of the chords and riffing or simply the accompaniment of the keyboards creating a counterpoint to the guitars and bass that adds an eerie ambient layer to a strong metal delivery system as well as finding a perfect balance between tempo, decibel dynamics and production effects.

It cannot be stated enough how important a lead vocalist to a really stellar progressive metal band and it is Einar Solberg whose voice is just perfect for this particular brand of prog metal. He has the operatic qualities of the best in the biz yet doesn’t sound like he swallowed a cat or has had his male parts pinched in a vise-grip. The interplay of the instruments creating a larger than life melodic delivery is this band’s major attribute and despite the album being a staggering hour plus affair, i don’t lost interest in it no matter how many times i hear it and actually crave hearing it again. While on paper one cannot state the reasons why LEPROUS is in a league above the competition, however it is utterly apparent when one listens to the meticulously designed unfolding of the tracks on board. Somehow everything is paced and placed in just the right ratios. All elements present themselves in just the right proportions and the band has mastered the art of knowing when enough is enough and changing it up. I resisted LEPROUS for the longest time because i usually find hype to be overblown but in this case i’m on board and am finding THE CONGREGATION to be one of their strongest offerings to date.

For me the real beauty is how the individual parts of the tracks sound like they are so close to clashing and derailing the fragile beauty of the melodic flow but always somehow resolve themselves like a hero saving a damsel in distress being tied to the railroad tracks scenario. While this music can sound stilted and jarring for those used to a more straightforward approach of prog metal, for this who love those little “off” types of features that add tension and distress to their musical experience, then look no further than LEPROUS who once again proves they are on the top of their game putting some true “progressiveness” into their unique brand of prog metal. Vocal harmonics, production, symphonic accompaniments and instrumental interplay all display themselves in perfect tandem for my tastes. THE CONGREGATION is utterly addictive. While most releases contain 11 tracks, there are some with a 12th track titled “Pixel” which is a bonus track on certain editions. IMHO this is not an essential track so don’t worry if you skip it. I actually prefer my copy without despite being good.

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