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Leprous: Malina

The evolution of Norway's Leprous continues with their fifth release for InsideOut Records, titled Malina. Starting out as an aggressive progressive metal act that also originally served as backing band for former Emperor frontman Ihsahn, Leprous released a few critically acclaimed albums early in their career, with a gradual shift towards more melodic fare that seemed to culminate on their 2015 release The Congregation. Well, the band have gone even further here with Malina, an album brimming with pop sheen and indie/prog sensibilities, most of the metal elements seemingly left for dead, something that's sure to divide the fanbase but at the same time potentially opening up their music to a much wider audience.

A tune like "Bonneville", with its bubbling electronics and catchy hooks, or the soaring, violin soaked "Stuck" are as far from anything Leprous has recorded before, but let's give credit where credit is due, as this is very strong material, just not progressive metal. "From the Flame" continues that trend, as crisp guitar chords and layers of gorgeous vocal harmonies surround what is ultimately a well crafted pop rock tune. "Captive" is the first song here that falls in anything that clearly signals 'prog', the riffs heavier, the arrangements slightly more intricate, but those pop hooks are ever present. Einar Solberg's haunting vocals are spectacular on the emotional "Illuminate", complemented by spacey keyboards and groovy rhythms, while "Leashes" adds a touch more bombast in spots than the tracks that precede it. The upbeat "Mirage" gets my vote for potential best tune on the album, with a well crafted vocal hook, shimmering guitar chords & keys, and the occasional lurching, djent styled guitar riff. I only wish their was more of this type of material on the album. The title cut is one of the longer pieces here at just over 6-minutes, but it just kind of drifts and meanders in more of the same bubbling pop sense, but that all changes with the frantic "Coma", another highlight here that will remind most of the bands earlier progressive metal leanings, complete with manic rhythms and loads of crushing riffage. Some of these elements carry over on "The Weight of Disaster", but mixed with more of the dreamy melancholy that seems to have taken hostage of much of the album. Closer "The Last Milestone" tips towards the 8-minute mark, but it's mostly classical tinged pop with some gorgeous violin...metal it ain't, but it's still quite beautiful.

Ultimately, I'm kind of on the fence with Malina. There's some mighty fine material to be found here, but again, much of it is pretty mellow and poppy, the few metallic moments are surprisingly fleeting and seem just thrown in. There's a certain 'sameyness' that much of the album succumbs to, but I have to give the band credit for just going for it here and attempting something so completely different. If you love Leprous' earlier works, Malina might be a bit hard to swallow, but there's no denying that the potential for wider exposure is certainly ripe for the taking.

Track Listing
1. Bonneville
2. Stuck
3. From The Flame
4. Captive
5. Illuminate
6. Leashes
7. Mirage
8. Malina
9. Coma
10. The Weight Of Disaster
11. The Last Milestone

Added: September 28th 2017
Reviewer: Pete Pardo
Related Link: Band Facebook Page
Hits: 1819
Language: english

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Leprous: Malina
Posted by Jon Neudorf, SoT Staff Writer on 2017-09-28 11:18:05
My Score:

Ever since I have reviewed Tall Poppy Syndrome in 2009, the sophomore effort from Norway's Leprous, I have been mightily impressed. The prog metallers have released album after album of varied and melodic material with enough complexity to satisfy a large progressive audience. Their albums are subtly different and that's one thing I love about this band. They never get boring, at least to my ears. Sure they have yet to match the progressiveness and complexity of Bilateral but all their albums have incredible highpoints be it the riffs, vocals (a big plus for the band), or melodies. So the question is how does their brand new offering Malina compare to past efforts?

Well, one thing is a certainty with Leprous and that is outstanding musicianship. Here the new album does not disappoint. The music may not be quite as technical as far as progressive metal is concerned but this in fact may be their most progressive album since Bilateral. This might also be their least 'metal' album to date but fear not good people, there are still plenty of great riffs and guitar work to be had. Songs like the album ending "Root" have innovative chord structures and an equally impressive rhythm section. The guitar has a Rush feel at times although the song never really sounds like Rush, nope, this is classic Leprous through and through. On "The Weight Of Disaster" the slight electronic vibe and crunchy riffs give way to huge riffage and unbelievable vocals where Solberg lets loose in a big way with a catchy chorus to boot. Again, the band has a classic style that cannot be denied. The staccato-like rhythms and guitar in "Captive" downshifts to an almost doom-like dirge before the riffs and drums again take the lead amidst Solberg's soaring vocals. "Illuminate" is more of a moody affair with synths taking the forefront with the guitar being more nuanced and subtle. "From The Flame" is one of the catchiest numbers with one of the disc's most memorable vocal melodies. Pulsating keyboards and fantastic drum work highlight the excellent "Mirage" where the wall of sound instrumentation is captivating while the title track features sublime musical builds and an ethereal moodiness showcasing a great dynamic between heavy and soft. Perhaps the most surprising track is "The Last Milestone" dominated with gorgeously sorrowful strings and Solberg's stunning vocals. This is a real showstopper and somewhat of a departure for the band.

What the band has delivered with Malina is a mixture of new sounds as well as capturing that classic Leprous progressive metal style making for one of the best albums they have delivered yet. It is absolutely stunning!

An Inside Out Music release.

Band members:

Einar Solberg (keyboards, lead vocals)
Tor Oddmund Suhrke (guitar, backing vocals)
Baard Kolstad (drums)
Simen Daniel Lindstad BÝrven (bass)
Robin Ognedal (guitar)

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