Norwegian progressive heroes LEPROUS are about to release their sixth full-length album “Pitfalls” via Inside Out Music/Century Media Records. After the critical acclaim received by 2017’s “Malina”, which saw them drifting away from metal sounds into a more eclectic and modern style, the five-piece Nordic act promised to broaden even more the scope of their musical landscape with this new release, as they told us in a recent interview. The band has described “Pitfalls” as something people wouldn’t expect from them in terms of musical styles and diversity, and singer Einar Solberg has been very open about the fact that the lyrics and tone of the record were highly influenced by his struggles with depression and anxiety.
The album opens with the powerful and gloomy “Below”, where Einar delivers a very emotional performance, pouring his heart out with each note. The warmth of his voice is paired by the equally touching string arrangements, giving the song a very cinematic quality, almost as if it was part of a Bond movie score. “I Lose Hope” kicks off in a playful manner, mixing rock and electronic elements with an upbeat rhythm base. Guitar, bass, and drums blend perfectly with synths and strings, becoming a successful experiment and setting the score for an album full of surprises. Einar’s more aggressive singing style in the verse reminds me of THE MARS VOLTA, while the chorus is very soothing and catchy.
After two intense tracks, “Observe the Train” is a more delicate and calm song, full of melancholic melodies. It features interesting vocal harmonies and works as a kind of sad lullaby, giving you time to breathe for a while. The modern and dynamic “By My Throne” feels like an injection of energy that wakes you up immediately, featuring plenty of intensity changes. It’s hard not to think of MUSE when listening to this track, but LEPROUS are no copycats and make this song their own. “Alleviate” stands out for its dramatic use of keyboards and passionate, high-pitched vocals. On the surface, it may seem just like another pop song, but the more you listen to it the more details you discover.
The band themselves declared that the second half of the record would showcase more experimental elements, and this becomes clear with “At the Bottom”. Its main structure has this modern R&B feeling to it, featuring electronic drums and loads of synths. The chorus is compelling and there are also dramatic instrumental breakdowns, including a cinematic section towards the end of the song that is pure gold. “Distant Bells” starts as a calm song, very subtle and moody. From the instrumental point of view, it’s a multi-layered track full of beautiful arrangements and tiny details. There are also many points of inflection in its structure, containing some of the softest and heaviest moments in the album. One of my favorite tracks, no doubt about it.
“Foreigner” is a guitar-driven rocker, short and concise without too many twists and turns, becoming the most straight-forward track on the album, which adds to the balance between the different elements combined in it. To end this tale of highs and lows we get an eleven-minute roller coaster entitled “The Sky is Red”, an authentic feast for your senses. This is arguably the most complex song on the album and features multiple progressions between moods and styles, with an interesting experimental section in its second half. The result is a monumental piece of art that is by itself a reason enough to check out this album. The limited Mediabook includes also two bonus tracks: “Golden Prayers” and “Angel” (MASSIVE ATTACK cover).
With “Pitfalls”, LEPROUS drifts away once more from their metal roots into more diverse territories, including a wide range of music styles, daring to experiment with less heavy elements such as synth-pop. Given the constant evolution of this band and their reluctance to subscribe to any genre, in particular, the result feels organic and fascinating, although some might point out the lack of guitars and real drums at times. The sophistication and elegance of their sound will allow them to keep growing in the contemporary prog scene, and I’m sure that the fans will embrace this new album because after all, in order to consider yourself a LEPROUS fan you have to, at least in part, expect the unexpected.
Article by David Araneda
LEPROUS – PITFALLS VIDEOS
- I Lose Hope
- Observe The Train
- By My Throne
- At The Bottom
- Distant Bells
- The Sky Is Red
Einar Solberg – vocals/synth
Tor Oddmund Suhrke – guitar
Robin Ognedal – guitar
Simen Børven – bass
Baard Kolstad – drums
Sami Hinkka’s solo project ssSHhh released industrial metal homage to Christmas classic “Jingle Bells.”