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Leprous: Tall Poppy Syndrome

From Norway comes Leprous, a five-piece metal band whose sophomore CD Tall Poppy Syndrome is now out on Sensory Records. This is a pretty unique band, as their style seems to draw from prog-rock, progressive metal, as well as some black & death metal themes. The members all come from a town in Norway called Notodden, well known as the breeding ground for Ihsahn and other past members of legendary black metal act Emperor. As fate would have it, all the members of Leprous have become touring musicians for Ihsahn in recent times, so you can expect plenty of Ihsahn's influence here, as well as some of the more avant-garde & progressive styles of bands such as Opeth, Arcturus, Tool, King Crimson, Pink Floyd, Pain of Salvation, and Amorphis.

Though I've mentioned some other acts above, Leprous use those influences and have forged their own path quite nicely here. Opening cut "Passing" sees plenty of juggling back and forth between symphonic, 70's styled prog and a more aggressive, dark metal approach. Vocals are mostly clean, though there are the occasional growl or scream that pops in for dramatic effect, and expect plenty of complex riffs, raging rhythms, and various keyboard sounds. "Phantom Pain" is a real winner, filled with brooding prog, jazz piano, and raging black/death metal passages, as the band throws everything at you and constantly changes moods and tempos, much like Swedish band Opeth. Other highlights include the moody & textured "Dare You", the mix of folk and prog on the stunning "Fate", the ultra complex duo "Not Even a Name" and "The Will Kill Again", and the haunting title track, which features some of the most chilling musical arrangements on the CD, as the band goes back and forth between prog and metal for the entire 8-minute duration. Ending epic "White" is a tour-de-force, complex guitar lines doing battle with raging Hammond & Mellotron, with plenty of passages that recall 70's space rock as well as Norwegian black metal.

Pretty astounding stuff here on Tall Poppy Syndrome, Leprous showing that they are set to become a real force on the progressive metal scene in a real hurry. Granted, this is not a CD that you are going to pop in and immediately be swept away with. On the contrary, this is dark and brooding music, so be prepared to spend some time with it so you can allow all it has to offer to fully sink in. Once you do, there's plenty of beauty to be discovered. Highly recommended!


Track Listing

  1. Passing
  2. Phantom Pain
  3. Dare You
  4. Fate
  5. The Will Kill Again
  6. Not Even a Name
  7. Tall Poppy Syndrome
  8. White

Added: June 23rd 2009
Reviewer: Pete Pardo
Score:
Related Link: Band Website
Hits: 4578
Language: english

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» SoT Staff Roundtable Reviews:

Leprous: Tall Poppy Syndrome
Posted by Jon Neudorf, SoT Staff Writer on 2009-06-23 11:08:21
My Score:

What a nice surprise it has been listening to the Norwegian band Leprous. There new CD, Tall Poppy Syndrome, is their third release following a couple of album demos. Although I would classify them in the progressive metal camp they are not your typical prog metal band as they have a style uniquely their own. Oh sure they have their influences such as Opeth, Devin Townsend and The Mars Volta, but by no means are these guys ripping anybody off. What is even more impressive is the fact these guys are in their early twenties. It is scary to think how good they could become.

Although prog metal is the focus, there are many different genres incorporated here such as jazz, classical, extreme/technical metal and retro prog. The band consists of Einar Solberg (keyboards, lead vocals), Tor Oddmund Suhrke (guitar, vocals), Halvor Strand (bass), Øystein Landsverk (guitar, vocals) and Tobias Ørnes Andersen (drums). Perhaps what I like best about the band is how they transition from softer passages to full blown metal assaults. One minute you will be mesmerized by the delicate acoustic instrumentation flowing from your sound system only to be blown away by an all out metal barrage of brutal riffs and heavy drumming. Another highlight are the vocals of Solberg. This guy really does have a full repertoire utilizing high pitched screams, growls, whispers, spoken word and a wonderfully melodic clean voice. His use of screams does recall Devin Townsend in terms of placement within the songs and how they are so perfectly in tune. It is almost as if his voice is used like another instrument, critical to the song's structure and melody. Even if you are not a fan of aggressive vocals I urge you to check this out.

As far as individual songs, it was hard to pick out a few highlights as they are all so good and well performed. As good as any is the album opener "Passing" showing the band's deft approach to fragile beauty with delicate lead vocals and softer passages only to be broken by well placed screams, guttural growls and intense guitar riffage. Listen for beautiful orchestration and lovely background vocals during the dreamy mellow sections and emotion filled lead guitar. The moody "Phantom Pain" starts softly with delicate guitar phrasings and gentle clean vocals bringing back memories of classic 70s prog only to be interrupted by rollicking keyboards and some of the best power riffs on the album. Solberg screams and growls through the cacophony of heavy guitar riffs and pounding rhythms only to return once more to softer moments. The transitions from soft to heavy flow beautifully demonstrating just how talented this band is. Some of the catchiest moments can be heard in the ominous sounding "Dare You", a great slice of atmospheric metal and an irresistible chorus that will be hard to get out of your head.

I am going to stop there and leave the rest to you. Trust me, there is no filler here, just well executed moody progressive metal with lots of hooks and killer musicianship. This one should have plenty of staying power in a somewhat saturated genre. An essential purchase!

(originally written for progressiveears.com)


» Reader Comments:

Leprous: Tall Poppy Syndrome
Posted by on 2009-06-21 10:12:57
My Score:

Took me a while to get into, but once I did, it became a highly satisfying and rewarding album. A highlight of this year.




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