Leprous - Bilateral
InsideOut Music
Prog Metal
10 songs (59:20)
Release year: 2011
InsideOut Music
Reviewed by Jaime
Let's face it, if you had a gig as the backing band for one of black metal's biggest names in his solo endeavours you'd think it was a pretty sweet deal and be quite happy at that. In taking an already existing band Ihsahn basically ensured that his live members could stand being around each other for more than five minutes at a time, which was pretty shrewd. However, that doesn't mean that said existing band have nothing else to their name. A follow up to the quite startling and bleak Tall Poppy Syndrome, Bilateral is Leprous's sophomore outing and it seems that the band have cheered up a little. But does the Emperor's shadow loom over them?

Well, I'd like to think that after hearing the saxophones on Ihsahn's After they decided "we can one up". The results? The glorious Thorns and its God damned trumpet solo. Not to mention the eerie sections that are augmented by guitars, vocals, brass or a combination of all three, the off kilter rhythms (although they're hardly exclusive to this track. Massive props to the rhythm section for the sterling performance across the entire album.), the shift in dynamics (another album wide trait) and even a showing from the black wizard himself. The band don't exactly hold back on tracks here, or on the album opener Bilateral with its big vocal opening hit before things fall back a little for the synths and drums to carry the song while everything builds around this core. Also, there's some Mellotron splatterings in case you question their prog sensibilities, although following track Forced Entry should knock those on their head with the disjointed and cacophonic intro, the big chorused vocals, massive walls of sound that give way only for them to be built up again and random time signatures that they throw around for over ten minutes in one big gloopy bowl of porridge. And more Mellotrons. That's prog. Waste of Air is a madcap musical dash that reminded me a little of German progsters Dark Suns more bizarre moments. Very impressive, especially with the rapid fire piano stabs.

The band also does some fairly soft tracks as well. The spacey, keyboard driven Mb. Indifferentia for one manages to break up the barrage of Thorns and Waste of Air gracefully. Acquired Taste goes through the kind of standard soft section building up to a climax that some slower, non-ballady tracks like to use but it's still very serviceable. In fact, the only real let down on the album is the aptly titled Mediocrity Wins, and I'm not sure if the band did that to make a statement or not... The album ends with the rather lovely Painful Detour, which breaks out the trumpet again to harmonise with the vocal melodies during certain slightly calmer sections, before the band go hell for leather during others. Another album wide thing that is particular noticeable on this track is the use of certain vintage keyboard sounds, far too few bands use Wurli Pianos these days. The little bouncy piano part that's behind the guitar solo near the end is fantastic as well.

Prog bands often make the mistake of... well, not progressing. Leprous' take is an excellent stab on the genre that isn't massively groundbreaking but at the very least sits them in their own corner. Performance wise the band are excellent, as I mentioned above the rhythm section pulls no punches, and the production isn't crystal clean and up against a brick wall which improves the band's character even further. It's a small mercy when up and coming bands manage to avoid the so called "Second Album Syndrome", but these guys here are taking leaps and bounds forwards and will, hopefully, get some decent amount of recognition that'll pull them away from Ihsahn's orbit and allow their own merits to come gleaming though.
Killing Songs :
All of them, except Mediocrity Wins
Jaime quoted 90 / 100
Other albums by Leprous that we have reviewed:
Leprous - Aphelion reviewed by Goat and quoted 85 / 100
Leprous - Pitfalls reviewed by Goat and quoted 90 / 100
Leprous - Coal reviewed by Goat and quoted 90 / 100
Leprous - Tall Poppy Syndrome reviewed by Alex and quoted 83 / 100
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