LEPROUS — The Congregation (review)

LEPROUS — The Congregation album cover Album · 2015 · Progressive Metal Buy this album from MMA partners
5/5 ·
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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siLLy puPPy wrote:
more than 2 years ago
Ah, i see. Bilteral was my first Leprous experience and although i didn't dislike them as much as you did, i didn't really like it either. My opinion changed once i heard Tall Poppy Syndrome and that hooked me. Coal and The COngregation are even better. Still haven't heard the very first album
adg211288 wrote:
more than 2 years ago
http://www.metalmusicarchives.com/review/bilateral/259752
siLLy puPPy wrote:
more than 2 years ago
BTW, what was your disastrous experience? Do tell :)
siLLy puPPy wrote:
more than 2 years ago
I think Bilaterial is their weakest album. Try one of the newer ones. You might be surprised. I was surprised no one had reviewed this here yet since they're pretty popular these days
adg211288 wrote:
more than 2 years ago
Not a band that I can say interests me after my disastrous experience with Bilateral, but thanks for posting this review. One less album I need a quote for on the Collabs top albums of 2015 now.

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