LEPROUS

Nor­way’s pro­gres­sive met­allers head to­wards the next di­men­sion

Metal Hammer (UK) - - Albums -

Strik­ing the bal­ance

be­tween ac­ces­si­bil­ity and tech­ni­cal­ity is a feat many metal bands fall foul of, es­pe­cially when try­ing to con­dense the kind of epic, pro­gres­sive ad­ven­tures Nor­way’s Leprous have care­fully con­structed over four al­bums into a more ac­ces­si­ble form. Malina, their fifth, af­ter the in­tri­cately con­structed and grad­u­ally re­veal­ing won­ders of 2015’s The Con­gre­ga­tion, threat­ens dis­ap­point­ment. Stuck and From The Flame are built around huge, punchy hooks, but never quite reach for the bold hori­zons of old. Yet you should never un­der­es­ti­mate a band who also moon­light as black metal vi­sion­ary Ih­sahn’s tour­ing ensem­ble. What rapidly be­comes ap­par­ent is that this is but a soft in­tro­duc­tion into Leprous’s histri­onic world. Ei­nar Sol­berg’s oper­atic falsetto is ini­tially off-putting in its sim­i­lar­ity to Muse’s Matt Bel­lamy, but nowhere near as smugly con­vinced of its own grandeur. It ul­ti­mately proves the per­fect coun­ter­point to the stac­cato stab of the an­gu­larly ab­stract riffs that an­chor such ex­treme melodies. This tug of war pro­vides the record’s main tension – a bat­tle that in­creases in com­pelling com­plex­ity with­out ever los­ing fo­cus the deeper you ven­ture in. It bar­rages on the snare-blasted rat­tle of Cap­tive and proves en­gross­ing on the preda­tory can­ter of Il­lu­mi­nate before reach­ing a thrilling apex on Mi­rage. Its knock-down, drag-out dirge of a riff flour­ishes amidst the pul­sat­ing, sci-fi synth into emo­tive ur­gency, and cul­mi­nates in an ex­hil­a­rat­ing in­stru­men­tal dash to the fin­ish – a sinewy tan­gle of bass and keen­ing leads that will leave you gasp­ing.

By rights Malina should make Leprous huge.

FOR FANS OF: Ih­sahn, Devin Townsend, Tesser­act

TOM O’BOYLE

Leprous take their fifth

al­bum in their stride

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