Written by: KW on 26/08/2021 20:34:32

Leprous is a band that never stands still. Throughout their discography, each album has always had its own unique sound, yet still retaining that very distinct Leprous style that made them the darlings of the prog-sphere from the get go. Being able to achieve this with a tight schedule of releasing an album every two years since their metal beginnings in 2009 - without fail - is quite the success. But here we are once again. Due to the pandemic, I will admit that it does not feel like 2 years since their last outing “Pitfalls” dropped; it was an album that took some time to grow on me but definitely had its merits by way of its melancholic, pop-infused prog rock, but it also could’ve just as easily been a solo project by the band’s vocalist Einar Solberg due to the very stripped back instrumental side. Still, new Leprous material will never cease to excite me nonetheless.

At first, “Aphelion” very much feels like a natural extension of what “Pitfalls” set out to do. “Running Low” and “Out of Here” use strings and synths combined with dynamic changes in intensity to build to dramatic climaxes, and Einar Solberg’s signature falsetto vocals and phrasings are still intact. Both are unmistakably modern Leprous, which is not necessarily bad since these are still very strong songs, but a creeping feeling of this just turning into “Pitfalls” 2.0 starts to kick in regardless.

Yet thankfully, from “Silhouette” and onwards, the record really starts dishing out surprises left and right. “Silhouette” is what a drum ‘n’ bass version of Leprous would sound like: disgustingly groovy thanks to to Baard Kolstad’s ghost note-filled pounding of the drums while pitch-shifting guitars and rave synths keep the momentum going at 100%. “All the Moments” is the most traditionally proggy Leprous has sounded in ages; the intro sounds straight ripped out of an ’80s prog rock song with its epic synth flourishes and bending guitar lead melody, and hearing Kolstad bashing the kegs at the forefront again is simply jaw dropping — something that “Pitfalls” for the most part was missing. “Have You Ever?” oozes with style with its icy synth arpeggios and wobbling bass, while the album peaks with the melancholic intensity of “On Hold”, a heartbreaking, beautiful piece about being completely and utterly stuck in your own thoughts and depression. And keeping up with the streak of phenomenal album finishers that Leprous have produced thus far, “Nighttime Disguise” continues that with a dirty monster of a track, smashing the listener with down-tuned, staccato guitar riffs, before diving into a mesmerizing post-rock bridge and ultimately exploding into screams from Solberg — the first time I have heard him scream since 2015’s “The Congregation” I believe.

“Aphelion” is a stunning album through and through, and in my opinion it finds a perfect balance between the stripped back, electronic feel of “Pitfalls” and their prog-rock / metal roots. A part of me still wishes the band would make a full blown metal release again, but I know that time is almost certainly behind them. Still, I can’t deny what a unique experience listening to this modern iteration of Leprous is, and out of all the recent releases, this one has got to be my favourite. Now I just want to know which direction they’re going to take next — albeit an interesting one it will most likely always be.


Download: Silhouette, All the Moments, On Hold, Nighttime Disguise
For the fans of: Ihsahn, Pain of Salvation, Rendezvous Point, Riverside
Listen: Facebook

Release date 27.08.2021
InsideOut Music

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