With much assurance I can say that Leprous is one of the most interesting bands in recent years. The avalanche that started after their not-quite-distinguishable-but-still-excellent debut Aeolia (released in 2006), pushed the band significantly forward after 2009’s Tall Poppy Syndrome, assigning this record as one of the top albums of the year. The band intrigued the progressive metal community after being a live support band for Ihsahn and a tour with Therion in 2010 just confirmed that something (wicked) big this way comes.
On the road to popularity, the band signed for InsideOut Music and everything was set for another gem in the running discography. With a title like Bilateral the band announced that this SOMETHING is going to be the most controversial, avant-garde, eclectic and above all the most interesting piece of work these Norwegians put out to date, by revealing a design for the art cover done by Jeff Jordan (of The Mars Volta fame) and Ritxi Ostariz. I would cite a friend of mine who commenting on the album cover said: “There is a rule, if there are mushrooms on the album art you know that the album is going to “rock”!”
Compared to its predecessor, Bilateral is a far more complex and multilayered record and it’s not to be expected that you can get in its structure simply through superficial listening while chatting with your neighbor about the Washington Wizards game last night. Straight from the beginning the new album requires patience, which is just a confirmation of the band’s progress. It’s pretty simple, if you want to listen to “easiness” turn on Aeolia or Tall Poppy Syndrome, if you want to cope with complexity, Bilateral is what you look for.
I cannot resist the impression that Einar Solberg’s voice reminds me of Freddie Mercury at some moments of the album’s flow. Call me stupid, but those mushrooms are not there only for fun. Speaking of the eclecticism, Bilateral wraps up progressive rock and metal and this is pretty interesting fact, as it’s equally distanced from the progressive metal fan and classic middle-aged prog rock aficionados. This is what you get when put King Crimson in the same room with Opeth and Norway’s Shining. To add up a little bit more flakiness, Devin Townsend would serve as a reference.
Although it’s known in which subgenres Leprous dwells, Bilateral makes you think that it’s unleashed all genre chains. Saying that, a conclusion comes to my mind – Bilateral is a surprising recording on its own. Different from song to song, it’s able to break all your expectations. Speaking of the surprising factor, maybe it would be dazzling for you to know that the album employs even a trumpet. Yes, that’s right! Just listen to Thorn and you will hear this instrument and probably recall Miles Davis while Ihsahn provides his identified scream.
Mb. Indifferentia evokes Opethian melody, Floyd and Porcipine Tree’s depth with very nice mellow acoustic guitar chord voicing. Waste of Air appears to be an avator of the aforementioned Shining in the terms of aggression. Forced Entry and Restless are the closest things to to sympho prog rock, while on the other side Acquired Taste comes up as the most soulful track the band released so far. And there is more.
Probably the biggest curse of Bilateral is that it comes up in THIS year, which is probably one of the best in the last half decade in terms of awesome music, as almost all major bands are going to have new albums released. Judging by the first six months, we are maybe dealing with something what will be called as “the classic of the genre” in the coming years. With Bilateral, Leprous keeps walking upwards. Bravo, gentlemen!
1. Bilateral (4:00)
2. Forced Entry (10:20)
3. Restless (3:30)
4. Thorn (5:47)
5. Mb. Indifferentia (6:33)
6. Waste Of Air (5:32)
7. Mediocrity Wins (6:07)
8. Cryptogenic Desires (2:45)
9. Acquired Taste (5:13)
10. Painful Detour (8:18)
* Einar Solberg – synth, vocals
* Tor Oddmund Suhrke – guitar
* Øystein Landsverk – guitar
* Rein Blomquist – bass
* Tobias Ørnes Andersen – drums
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