Along with just a handful of bands all over the world, Leprous is one of the game-changing legacy-carriers of Progressive Metal. Their style is distinct, but unafraid of revealing influences such as Pain Of Salvation. Behind their backs, they only have three albums; the debut, “Aeolia”, is somewhat of a forgotten LP, but the latter two are the main reason the band is now at the center of the stage for many Metal and Progheads. 2011′s “Bilateral”, album number three, is most definitely the most ground-breaking and mature, and stood out as one of the key albums of this new wave of Prog Metal.
“Coal”, against most odds, maintains almost all of the “Bilateral” qualities intact. It blends the same ingredients, and molds them with a new formula. The most noticeable new change is how the band has put Einar Solberg’s voice even more up-front than usual: he sings almost all over the place, delivering beautiful, extended falsetto vocals, as well as melodic phrases that serve a given song as a completely independent additional instrument. In songs like “Echo” and “Foe”, it is most apparent. This is for the most part Einar’s album, even because the keyboards have most definitely toned-down, resulting in an overall drier atmosphere. This is not necessarily a fault of course, since Leprous’ intent naturally was to craft something punchier, more straight-forward and song-based, rather than a moody album.
This leads to the song-writing. Looking back at 2009′s “Tall Poppy Syndrome”, it is amazing to see how far ahead they’ve brought themselves since. There is not one single track that fails. “Foe” starts the album off perfectly, boasting one of the most memorable and relevant vocal performances by Solberg; “Chronic” and the title track are easily the busiest and heaviest tracks, showcasing incredible interplay and progressive song structures; “The Cloak” and “Salt” are calmer pieces, both of them strategically well-placed throughout the album, as they generate a nice change of pace for the LP’s momentum. “The Valley” is a long-winded, multi-faceted masterpiece, with perhaps one of the best hooks that the band has ever come up with; “Echo” is of a similar nature, but with a much more dramatic, slow tone to it. It is by far, the moodier and more emotional piece of the album, which is saying a lot. The album ends on a very heavy note, with guest vocalist Ihsahn killing it with one of his most fear-inducing performances: “Contaminate Me” is a throw-back to the band’s more extreme roots, ?as a matter of fact Leprous used to be Ihsahn’s backing band- nevertheless Leprous is able to sound as if it was brought up in a new, original fashion.
“Coal” comes so near to the levels of “Bilateral”, and is once again striking proof that Leprous are one of the very best Metal bands out there. The best part of it is that they sound as if something even greater will eventually be in the works.