New Music Monday: Leprous
Formed when its members were still too young to buy a pint, forward-thinking Norwegians Leprous have been honing their technical, soaring, exuberant, and often impossible-to-label sound over the last decade, impressing critics and fans alike with their dynamic sound. So convincing is their musicianship and vision, in fact, that ex-Emperor frontman and prog metal giant Ihsahn recruited the group en masse to become his live band, working frequently with the group and appearing on their recordings, including their latest – and arguably greatest – opus, Coal. Despite such connections, Leprous remain an exotic and often puzzling proposition, blending metal traits with a host of other inspirations and aesthetic choices to create a unique and mesmerising experience.
“I think in the early days it’s fair to say we had a lot of inspiration from Opeth, Pain of Salvation, Porcupine Tree, Mars Volta, Dillinger Escape Plan, King Crimson and so on,” ponders lead vocalist and keyboard player Einar Solberg, “but I think in the last couple of albums we have become less directly inspired by other bands. It’s a mixture of everything we hear – even something we don’t know on the radio – and the fact that everyone in the band is involved in the writing of the songs that gives it an interesting mix.”
Indeed, while the group have seen comparisons to pretty much all the bands Einar mentions (and personally we would also add Devin Townsend and countrymen Shining to the list), Leprous are somewhat hesitant to label their own sound.
“I guess we are in the genre of progressive metal,” Einar laughs, “even though that is a pretty wide description. We started life as a metal band and have been taking whatever comes to mind when it comes to inspiration from other genres…we take influence from black metal, classical, rock music, pop music, so I think it’s difficult to describe the music we play, you have to listen to it. We are not just trying to copy another progressive metal band but are doing what I think the genre should be striving to do; to progress, to make something new and interesting and different from what you’ve done earlier.”
The band are certainly doing something new, with every part of the Leprous experience – music, live performance, even band photos – carrying a distinctly eccentric charm. But one question remains – why call the new (and possibly breakthrough) album ‘Coal’?
“It’s a nice metaphor because coal and diamonds are made from the same material,” Einar replies, “and it’s about how you use what’s given to you that turns it into what you end up. That’s true in life, but also with the album because we have the ideas but it’s how we put everything together that gives you the final result.”
Coal is out now via InsideOut
Interview by Dayal Patterson