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Two years ago Leprous released 'Tall Poppy Syndrome', their first album for a label (Sensory) following 2006's demo full-length 'Aeolia'. A refreshing and genuinely innovative take on what it means to be a prog-metal band, the diversity and might of its eight skilfully composed, flawlessly executed songs were, to my ears, largely unparalleled by every other release that year. One question - just how do you follow that? The answer - 'Bilateral' - which marks the start of a new deal with Inside Out, a corollary of which will hopefully be wider exposure for this most talented of bands. The Norwegians have both progressed and diversified their aesthetic while retaining the essence of the core sound that made 'Tall Poppy Syndrome' so great. And, in doing so, they once again eschew all clichés of what has become a self-imitative, paradoxical genre of prog. Apart from the compositional originality that is loaded with inventively melodic twists and turns in each new bar of music, this is partly due to the skilled fretboard work of guitarists Tor Oddmund Suhrke and Øystein Landsverk who both avoid the banality of metal's tired, old stylistic paradigms with, instead, a sonic vocabulary on their instruments that is totally compelling in its variance. Likewise, frontman Einar Solberg's keyboard sounds also enhance and form the foundation of each song's eclectic charms which switch from mellow to heavy and everything in between with amazingly latent ease. Therein lies another strength of the music - it's innovative through and through but the experimentation is never thrown right in your face; the blend of innovation and accessibility in the songwriting is executed to perfection. As a whole the album perhaps has less death growls than its predecessor, with the distinct tones of Einar's clean voice more dominant throughout. However, midway through, we have 'Waste of Air' which undoubtedly contains passages that are the heaviest to date in Leprous' canon. And his occasionally melodramatic delivery that embellished tracks like 'He Will Kill Again' and 'White' on 'Tall Poppy Syndrome' are also sporadically present on 'Bilateral', notably on the verse of 'Thorn'. Further, while Einar already demonstrated his wide vocal range on the last album, he excels himself here, and his singing two-thirds through 'Waste of Air' with some quasi-polytonal vocalising, kind of a choral singer approach, is as mindblowingly adept as it is stupefyingly batty. And mindblowingly adept and stupefyingly batty sums up the entire album which is fresh, iconoclastic and, ultimately, injects renewed meaning into the progressive label - ie. an album that is actually progressing something. Stunning.
Inside Out
Review by Mark Holmes
22nd Aug 2011
1) Bilateral
2) Forced Entry
3) Restless
4) Thorn
5) Mb. Indifferentia
6) Waste of Air
7) Mediocrity Wins
8) Cryptogenic Desires
9) Acquired Taste
10) Painful Detour
"...it's innovative through and through but the experimentation is never thrown right in your face; the blend of innovation and accessibility in the songwriting is executed to perfection."