Norway has always been a country known for its black metal bands singing about their hatred towards Christianity, some promoting freedom, or some about melancholic themes like depression in life. Although there have been the likes of Circus Maximus and such, that have shown sparks of brilliance when it comes to progressive metal, these bands have always been connected to the progressive metal giants Dream Theater, or Symphony X reigning as major influences and thereby almost sounding the same. On the other hand, we have Leprous. This band blends a unique confluence of progressive metal, math metal, avant Garde, and progressive rock and so on, with slight glimpses of extreme metal. They reign as one of the most original acts in the metal scene, in my opinion. Their latest release The Congregation, on the other hand is a more melancholic, darkened approach to their sound as compared to the more active and quirky sound in Coal or Bilateral. This is one of the bands that deserve to be known all over the world, considering their commendable display in creativity and originality. And I will prove to you why.
“The Price”, the starters to the main course, begins with a stop motion style intro with magnificent high pitched vocals that will echo through your ears and send Goosebumps down your spine with its unique melodies. The music continues with a faint but fast drum roll at the background, when you are presented with a clean guitar display of the same tune. A perfect start with the haunting, melancholic feel successfully delivered. It’s gross injustice to explain every song on this album keeping in mind the songwriting Einar Solberg and the boy’s posses. They have set the bar up real high for the progressive metal scene, creating a unique, original identity for themselves. Deftly managing not to sound technical or bland, they sail through with flying colors. A lot of the components in the album remain the same throughout. For instance songs like “Third Law”, “Rewind” and “The Flood” have a flash of speed and screams in odd times with a catchy chorus. This is progressive music at its best. The tunes eventually get more melodic and heavier with alternate odd time breaks again. The song ends by the tempo slowing down, refurbishing back to the original tune.
Like the hypnotic vocals, the evident bass lines, the odd time drumming, the amazing synth giving the dark, sorrowful atmospheric feel, the album had it all and the band hit the bull’s eye with what they were aiming at. With tracks like “Slave”, “Moon” the record moves along the dark, deep sound with the odd time transitions from heavy to the atmospheric feel that is another high point in the album. I always respect a band for sticking to what they love to do, and that is what Leprous have exactly done. This album is a solid proof that you can make great progressive music without sounding too technical.
The Congregation is a journey. To be able to pull off a feat such as this album is remarkable. From the expansive concept and theme of the album, to the amazing orchestrations, melodies and riffs, it encompasses the entire spectrum of the progressive metal genre. The amount of detail gone into the album from a musical and lyrical standpoint up to its delivery is staggering. Usually, most albums are just a collection of songs that have no connection with each other or are either connected loosely with the central theme. On The Congregation, the album is one entire experience that flows effortlessly from start to finish. A special shout out to Einar Solberg, in my opinion the shining light to the album, although the band has unanimously put in effort to make this one of the best albums of 2015. I in fact would nominate the vocal melodies for a movie’s soundtrack! It is that captivating, and it will go on to play as an infinite loop in my mind for days to come.
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