LEPROUS — The Congregation (review)

LEPROUS — The Congregation album cover Album · 2015 · Progressive Metal Buy this album from MMA partners
3.5/5 ·
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.
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siLLy puPPy wrote:
more than 2 years ago
Sorry to hear this one doesn't click with you as much. I'm finding this is one that i can't get enough of :)

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