Hot New Band: Leprous

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Still best known for being Ihsahn’s backing band over the last few years – a situation that very recently, and amicably, came to an end – Norwegian eccentrics Leprous’s idiosyncratic mixture of virtuoso intricacy and brooding art rock textures has endeared them to fans from both the metal and prog worlds, and fifth full-length The Congregation looks likely to cement their reputation as standard bearers for a more refined strain of exploratory heaviness.

“I guess our third album, Bilateral [2011], was the first thing that most people heard and it was a really progressive record,” he says. “We threw all our ideas at that one. I guess we were just excited about our music and wanted to try everything out at once. But Coal [2013] and particularly The Congregation are much more focused. I think we’ve really worked out what works best for us. There’s a lot more space on this new album. Sometimes less really is more!”

A dark and often unsettling journey through notions of blind faith and addiction, The Congregation’s strongest suit is that it bears scant resemblance to anything else in prog metal today. Fittingly, Einar opted for a fresh approach to songwriting this time; one that had his bandmates tearing their hair out in abject confusion.

“Most of it was written on a computer,” he says. “So then the guitarists had to learn all the riffs before we went into the studio, and I have no idea how to play the guitar, so some of their parts were a pretty big challenge! Ha ha ha!”

With the likes of Opeth and Devin Townsend becoming ever more prominent and selling out big venues around the world, Leprous could well be on the road to bigger, better and more wilfully unpredictable things.

“I honestly don’t know where we fit,” Einar muses. “Some of the metal guys that found us through Ihsahn may think the new songs aren’t heavy enough, but the prog guys will probably think we’re still too heavy! More and more people all over the world seem to enjoy what we do, though, so we’re happy. We just need to get out and show everybody what we’ve got.”

THE CONGREGATION IS OUT NOW VIA INSIDEOUT. LEPROUS TOUR THE UK IN OCTOBER/o:p