Every so often a band emerges that absolutely sounds like no other out there, one who’s influences you just cant pin down and who’s passion for the music they write and produce oozes out of every second of its recordings. The direction they follow is theirs without compromise and you can hear from the very first track you listen to that they are destined to be huge…this is how I felt about Leprous from the first time I heard their early albums and this is how I continue to feel with the forthcoming release of their fifth ‘Malina’.
Simultaneously drawing from some of ‘Tall Poppy Syndrome’s eccentricity whilst continuing to follow the bigger, more doom-laden and sorrowful direction which ‘Coal’ began to tread, ‘Malina’ is the obvious progression to 2015’s ‘The Congregation’. It doesn’t tread the same ground, rather it expands it, adding further elements to give it even further depth and emotion as the band find its place and grow to fill it.
Whilst most bands start an album with a fist full of energy to keep you hooked from the outset Leprous instead build up the tension. Opener ‘Bonneville’ starts with a low syncopated rhythm over which Einar Stolbergs haunting melodies float with accompanying harmony, it’s almost soulful if it wasn’t for the ever building dread that is felt…then the guitars crash in and the full power of the piece is revealed. Nothing is ever rushed within a Leprous song, the repetition of a riff, a vocal melody in another band may seem dull or worse like a filler, but its a common technique for the band and used to such dramatic effect you wonder just how they manage to pull it off so well.
Singles ‘Stuck’ and ‘From The Flame’ follow and are more upbeat in their tempo, though no less dramatic and sorrowful for this. Despite their obvious hooks and spacious feel the tunes are deceptively intricate with some amazing play-offs between the synth, rhythm’s and vocal melodies. ‘Stuck’ also introduces some beautiful accompanying string work which recurs later within the album.
‘Captive’ sweeps in with a frantic rhythm reminiscent of ‘The Price’ mixed with a verse and choral sections that would not seem far out of place on ‘Bilateral’, its a short but very sweet number which jumps between playful and somber. ‘Illuminate’ partners this well, another short number that has echoes of early Leprous with a memorable harmonized chorus that will be trapped in your head for the months to come!
Next up is ‘Leashes’ which slows the pace and reminds me of ‘Salt’ as it begins although has a stirringly anthemic chorus and see’s the return of the strings in its mid-section, this is going to be a great live tune with the dynamic between the quieter verse and crashing choral sections sure to sound breathtaking. One of the longer tracks on the album is ‘Mirage’ and it’s also a firm favourite of mine from my first listen, the synth work is first class, the tempo shifts and turns constantly and the chorus is the most upbeat and joyful in amongst the songs angst.
Title track ‘Milana’ is a slow and brooding number which really showcases the immense vocal range of Einar which is haunting in its intensity as the song builds towards its crescendo. ‘Coma’ follows and again ups the tempo, Baard Kolstads work behind the kit on this one is outstanding! ‘The Weight of Disaster’ keeps the shifting dynamics as it swings between slow plod and march, the bass being of particular interest for me in this piece, frantic during the slower phrases whilst measured during the faster sections, this is going to be a fan favourite for sure.
Closing the album is the track ‘The Last Milestone’, quite a departure from the rest of the album, almost a film score as Einar displays his iconic voice over a full string section, a beautifully haunting end to an album which is emotionally exhausting.
Look, I’m a huge fan, that’s quite obvious, to me a new Leprous release is a massive event and not just one that deserves a couple of listens and a few hastily written lines whether in disdain or praise. Listening to ‘Malina’ you can hear the amount of time and attention to detail which has been spent sculpting it, it is fully multi-layered, an album you will return to continually and each song will battle to be your favourite as you notice every new detail.
There are going to be those put off that this isn’t as heavy as some of their previous work, there are no death-growls this time around but I assure you that the anger and passion which those growls may represent is made up for in spades with the dark, brooding doom of some of the music on this album. I finish this as I started, Leprous do not sound like anyone else and they have yet again released a beautiful and original album well deserving of your time.
‘Malina’ is out on the 25th of August via InsideOut, grab your pre-orders here: http://www.insideoutshop.de/Item/Leprous_-_Malina_-Ltd-_CD_Mediabook-/16352