With their 2011 album and InsideOutMusic debut, “Bilateral”, creating more than just a few ripples on the surface, LEPROUS was suddenly faced with the daunting task of having to follow up, and hopefully build upon, a true underground success and one many fans and media critics had heralded as a stroke of genius and a little masterpiece of its own.
Taking the band on several tours across the European mainland, touring with Finnish metal heavy-weights Amorphis, followed by an own headliner tour, and even seeing the band traveling across the Atlantic Ocean to perform at the ProgPower USA festival, “Bilateral” carved out a busy path for the five-piece to follow. Not a new situation for the band though, mind you, as this Norwegian outfit has been somewhat of a touring entity for many years now, ever since the debut days of the self-financed “Aeolia” or their 2009 album release “Tall Poppy Syndrome”, having done countless shows supporting heavy hitters like Opeth, progressive metal stalwarts Pagan's Mind and symphonic metal veterans Therion, proving that musical boundaries could and should be broken.
Chosen as backing band for former Emperor frontman and countryman Ihsahn - a progressive black metal musician / legend in his own right, LEPROUS has despite their young age tried it all, and it’s no surprise that their music reflects that. For every part Pain Of Salvation and King Crimson one may hear, there is an equal amount of Shining (NO) or Devin Townsend to balance it out. Hints of Katatonia or Opeth float around amidst sparks of Porcupine Tree and Pink Floyd.
The absolute pinnacle of their career, this far, is however “Coal” – the brand new album which will be released on May 20th, 2013 in Europe and May 28th, 2013 in North America via InsideOutMusic. “Coal” was produced by Heidi Solberg Tveitan and Vegard Tveitan of Mnemosyne together with LEPROUS and mixed by Jens Bogren as well as mastered by Tony Lindgren at Fascination Street Studios (Kreator, Opeth, Symphony X; etc.).
Vocalist and synth-player Einar Solberg comments on the approach for the release by stating: "Being under hard pressure with a feeling of having a huge mountain to climb in a very short time, releases a kind of wild and untamed energy in you. Free of the boundaries of others expectations, with loosened chains of your calculating brain. Only then can you walk one step closer towards the ultimate honesty of your unique expression”, before reflecting to add: “With “Coal” I feel we are one step closer to this honesty. In this recording process, a lot of the choices we made were based upon impulsiveness. However, when you are lucky enough to have inspiring and skillful producers around you, they can help you to reach these completely honest layers of your subconscious. If you are too rehearsed, too sure about what you will do, it is hard to retrieve this musical spontaneity you had when you originally composed your part. If you manage to press the record button exactly when you perform with this kind of energy, you have succeeded to catch something pure and true.”
And when asked to explain the new material’s nature a bit more in detail, Solberg neutrally replied: “I see less interest in defining music than in creating music, but I will give a short overview on what to expect. “Coal” is a more melancholic and darker album than the more playful “Bilateral”. By darker I don’t mean more aggressive, but more severe. There is still a big range in the dynamics, but no jumping between different moods within a song."
From the pounding opener “Foe” to the boundary-pushing closer of “Contaminate Me”, “Coal” is an album full of surprises and with an intense complete flow. Via their first single of “Chronic”, a tune balancing between laid-back melancholy and drama played out almost like a theatre-performance, LEPROUS lays the foundation of an album that, while fitting nicely into the string of always further developing releases so far, also has something quite new to offer; something that becomes evident already by the third song, the album’s title track, where LEPROUS effortlessly mix grandiose prog rock with a darker and more minimalistic approach.
Songs like the, for LEPROUS standards, very melodic tinged but extremely captivating “The Cloak” or the marvelously well crafted anthem “The Valley”, see the band heading into new territory while still retaining the sound one has become acquainted with over the course of the previous three releases. To say that LEPROUS ends “Coal” on a high note would be the understatement of the year, as “Contaminate Me” might just be the most complete song the band has ever written; a 9 minute tune of true human emotional outburst – a song where rage and despair is exemplified not only by the musicianship of the band, but also the guest vocals of black metal icon Ihsahn.
To support the mood of the album visually, LEPROUS are again showcasing completely unique and conspicuous artwork from Jeff Jordan, who previously also worked on “Bilateral” or for other outstanding acts like The Mars Volta, and designer Ritxi Ostáriz. Unlike the very dark theme displayed throughout “Coal” might imply, the future for LEPROUS indeed looks promisingly bright. With a run of exciting summer festival appearances (including major events like Roadburn, Wacken, Hellfest, Tuska, etc.) confirmed to support the album’s release as well as a full European headlining tour in September-November 2013, LEPROUS are determined to once again challenge the open minded audiences and push the boundaries of an otherwise oftentimes too safe and bloodless scene with a truly progressive new release…