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Leprous - "Bilateral" (CD)

Leprous - "Bilateral" CD cover image

"Bilateral" track listing:

1. Bilateral (4:00)
2. Forced Entry (10:20)
3. Restless (3:30)
4. Thorn (5:47)
5. Mb. Indifferentia (6:33)
6. Waste Of Air (5:32)
7. Mediocrity Wins (6:07)
8. Cryptogenic Desires (2:45)
9. Acquired Taste (5:13)
10. Painful Detour (8:18)

Reviewed by on August 22, 2011

"Properly living up to the title, the latest Leprous album is a fantastic mix of pleasant and skull-shattering, weird and mainstream, smooth and harsh."

Just when it seemed like Norway had finally run out of young, groundbreaking acts to send shockwaves through the metal world, Leprous has stepped up to fill the void and deliver a knock-your-socks-off listening experience. The band’s third full-length album successfully bridges the gap between metal and non-metal, which makes “Bilateral” an album that actually moves music forward, rather than just being another cut and paste example of any given sub-genre.

In a way, Leprous represents a sort of Norwegian “passing of the guard,” as the members are protégés of the mighty Ihsahn (of Emperor fame), and the famous black metal vocalist even appears for a guest spot on the album. What’s interesting is that despite that influence, “Bilateral” isn’t really black metal in any sense of the term, but rather a unique take on prog rock and avant-garde metal.

Although it doesn’t use the same approach on the heavy/soft dichotomy as Opeth, the album has a lot of that same jazz and prog influenced feel that makes the Swedish act so immensely well received. Mixed in with the metal style guitar work, listeners can expect to hear trumpets, trippy and spaced-out segments, funky bass lines, angelic clean singing, epic instrumentation, and even a bit of screaming.

All the songs have a different angle and are distinct from one another, but still flow together well. The entire disc has an incredibly mature and well thought-out sound, where oddities don’t occur just for the sake of being avant-garde. Musical ideas abound that wouldn’t normally be heard on a metal album, such as on “Mb. Indifferentia,” which has a chill and relaxed take on rock with an edge to the sound hidden just underneath. “Thorn,” which includes the guest vocal spot from Ihsahn, is also a real trip of a song, moving in and out of metal and prog rock in a fluid and masterful way.

Take the sort of ethereal and airy tone of recent Anathema albums, throw in a base of avant-garde Norwegian metal, top it all off with a heaping dose of constantly changing prog rock, and you’ve got the recipe for “Bilateral.” Properly living up to the title, the latest Leprous album is a fantastic mix of pleasant and skull-shattering, weird and mainstream, smooth and harsh.

Highs: Masterful mix of prog rock with avant-garde metal that flows extremely well

Lows: The blending of styles is nearly perfect, but it's clear that some will be left wanting more heavy parts while others will end up wanting less heavy parts.

Bottom line: A fantastic step forward for Leprous and one of the best examples of prog rock meets avant-garde metal in recent memory.

Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls
4.5 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)