Times change, so it is only natural that inspirations and artistic direction does as well. In the case of Norway’s Leprous, a strong direction from Progressive Metal to Rock seems even more apparent on their latest album, Pitfalls, due out on Friday, October 25th via InsideOutMusic.
Starting as the live band for Emperor’s Vocalist Ihsahn, Leprous has morphed into a future version of themselves led by Vocalist/Keyboardist Einar Solberg. Joining him for Pitfalls is Tor Oddmund Suhrke on guitars/backing vocals, along with Baard Kolstad on drums, Simen Børven on bass/backing vocals, and finally their newest member, Robin Ognedal on guitars/backing vocals. As a band who formed all the way in 2001, it was not until 2009 that they release their first studio album Tall Poppy Syndrome, but since then they have successfully released a new album every two years including the transitional 2017 effort Malina the more somber Pitfalls.
Featuring nine tracks of progressive adventures with multitudes of clean vocals by Solberg, the average length of any song is six minute, with the longest at just over eleven minutes. A good amount to digest, it starts with the mellow almost lullaby styled beginning for the lead single “Below” which then sets off on a dark adventure of heavy hits to light and back again. Thereafter, “I Lose Hope” has some interesting electronic keyboard mixed with some unusual vocal stylings from Solberg – ranging in clean and high, to a more standard level. Flowing seamlessly, “Observe The Train” is perhaps the most softly progressive tune of them all.
Which leads us to the midway point of Pitfalls with “Alleviate,” which seems to really settle in the new sound the band is carrying along into the future. A slow, yet not boring tune, some of Solberg’s greatest vocal stylings flourish here. Then with some more violin sounds and somber agendas, the album moves into the seven plus minute “At The Bottom.” Keeping with a sarcastically cheerful theme, they move into the lengthy “Distant Bells,” a piece which contains some beautiful musical moments in both vocals and keyboards. Progressing into a slightly more Dance-based vibe, “Foreigner” proves to be one of the more memorable tunes of all. Then, closing out the serenity of sadness, “The Sky Is Red” starts off with a very Leprous styled progression before moving into more prominent clean vocals. The transgression during the eleven plus minutes take you back to the older heavier tunes of the band without really claiming it entirely.
Overall, the majority of Pitfalls is not at all in the Metal genre, but it is not unexpected from a band like Leprous who is know to twist the normal in more than one occasion. It is also important to point out there is certainly a dismal message underlining Pitfalls, but it seems to be a therapeutic session of releasing the negative emotions. As a bonus, there are two extra tracks for the limited Mediabook CD – “Golden Prayer” and a cover Massive Attacks’ “Angel,” a band which certainly seems to inspire “Alleviate.”
When it is all said and done Leprous continues to surprise listeners with wildly different progressions, and although Pitfalls definitely takes a backseat from the heaviness of their past, it is not at all unimpressive. The wallowing between instrumental sections along with highly vocal sections works well, and Leprous combines a wide range of elements from other bands while managing to craft their own voice. It takes creative passion and strength to take risks which is why Cryptic Rock gives Pitfalls 4 out of 5 stars.