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Leprous – The Congregation – Album Review

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The Congregation
InsideOut Music
Release Date: Out Now
Review by Salla Harjula

I was told this album, by young Norwegian prog metallers is marvellous by enough sane people that I decided to check it out. Here’s how that panned out.

After the first listen I went, yeah, okay, these people might not be entirely off base. It was tricky to get a real handle on it though. Despite the obvious melodic hooks, the songs were multiple, lengthy, and in each individual one there was just such a lot going on. But I’m known to indulge in fiddly stuff from Meshuggah and Strapping Young Lad to Porcupine Tree and Karnivool. So I gave it another go.

By the third listen I was emailing people with nothing really coherent to say apart from CHECK THIS STRANGE INCREDIBLE THING OUT.

After about the sixth listen I was exhausted. Fallen in love with the general package, but wondering if it wasn’t all just a bit too much. You get into a song, and the more you do, the more you find in there. Each song demanded my full concentration, and with eleven of them, and no let-ups anywhere, it was full on. I considered giving it a rest for a while, taking a breather, giving myself a break. Maybe listen to something easier for a bit.

And did I? Hell no. It took me nearly a week to find it in me to listen to anything else. And I’m still bowled over by the intricacy, beauty and ambition of it.

In the eleven extravagant songs, I would not take out one to tighten the whole. And then the highlights are so numerous it’s hard to pick just one or two to point a newbie towards. The catchy, memorable, but massive ‘Rewind’ that builds up to an elaborate metallic epic was one of my earliest favourites. Darkly riff-tastic and fragile ‘Down’ grew on me much later.

So what to say about the whole thing? It’s glorious. But not for everyone.

I have a friend – an awesome longtime veteran in the metal industry – who listened to this halfway through, got none of it, grew slowly frustrated, and eventually just plain pissed off.

And I totally get that. But if you actually do like your music outrageously tough to follow and swallow, with uncanny rhythmic constellations, absurdly intricate hooks – but hooks nonetheless – while at the same time being incredibly beautiful… You’re doing yourself a huge disservice if you don’t give a listen.




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