“The lyrics are my inner voice telling me that everything is my fault”: Prog metal mavens Leprous explain the powerful themes of new single Atonement

Einar Solberg of Leprous in 2024
(Image credit: Grzegorz Golebiowski)

Leprous are back – and they’re sounding pretty fucking heavy! The Norwegian prog metal favourites released their first song in three years, Atonement, yesterday (May 31) and it’s easily one of the most guitar-centric tracks they’ve shared in a long while. Needless to say, the buildup to the band’s impending eighth album Melodies Of Atonement is off to an impeccable start, but what’s the story of its lead single? What do the lyrics mean? And is it an accurate snapshot of the record to come?

To answer these questions, Metal Hammer sat down with Leprous singer/keyboardist Einar Solberg. The result was a surprisingly evocative chat about abuse, mental health and how this band will continue to evolve in the future. The story of Melodies Of Atonement starts right here…

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How does the song Atonement fit in with the rest of the album?

“I think it’s one of the heavier parts of the record – not the heaviest, but it’s a really good representation of the record. There’s a lot of variation, but it’s much more focussed than the previous two records [2019’s Pitfalls and 2021’s Aphelion]. Every song is straight to the point. For us, Atonement was the perfect ‘statement’ song: ‘Here it is, it’s Leprous, it’s easy to digest for a Leprous song.’ But it’s also a statement that this album is heavier than we’ve been in ages.”

Did you make Melodies Of Atonement heavier deliberately?

“It was deliberate. All of the symphonic elements have been stripped from the band because I’m taking them further in my solo project [started last year with debut album 16]. It was to give space to each band member to do their thing more. So, my project will be more cinematic, with some rock elements too, and then Leprous will be the rock, heavy, kind of metal band. It will appeal to a lot of the same people, but a lot of different people.”

Can you talk about the lyrics of the single and the album as a whole? Are there any overarching themes?

Leprous

(Image credit: InsideOut Music)

“I’m a very direct writer: I write very transparent and open [lyrics], especially for a Norwegian. Ha ha! With Atonement – when I sing, ‘It’s all because of you!’ – it’s basically my inner voice telling me that everything is my fault. I had that a lot as a kid, but I don’t have it as much now as I used to. There were some things in my childhood that made it like that, basically: I always felt that stuff was my fault and that I had to overcompensate for that by being too defensive, in a way.”

What happened during your childhood?

“I talked about this a lot during my solo album, but it’s from my father, who committed suicide when I was 19. Before that, he was probably the most difficult person to be around that I’ve ever met. It’s not that he was bad or mean, but he was incapable of dialogue or admitting that anything was his fault. He got more and more isolated, because nobody wanted to be around him. I’m the only one who stayed with him until pretty much the end. He was drinking and eventually doing drugs, he was verbally abusive a lot and sometimes physically, but he was also good sometimes. He was just very broken. But all my siblings are amazing, my mother is amazing, and we have a lot of amazing childhood memories.”

Anxiety and depression dictate what you think about when you wake up in the morning and when you go to bed at night, but I decided at some point, ‘I don’t want this anymore.’

Do these things affect the rest of Melodies Of Atonement?

“I talked a lot about the past [on 16], but I don’t talk about the past on the new album. It’s more about stuff inside me. I was a bit worried before I started this album because, honestly, I’m really happy these days. That’s what I would have been like, I think, all the time, if it wasn’t for the fact I had these scars that sometimes dominated everything. When you get into anxiety, that can trigger depression, and they play together. It’s what you think about when you wake up in the morning and when you go to bed at night, but I decided at some point, ‘I don’t want this anymore.’

“So, I was worried before this album that it would be too shallow and that I wouldn’t have anything to talk about, but that’s not the case at all. It made me much more in contact with my emotions, because I don’t fear them anymore. I could see everything with more clarity and, when you’re doing fine, you’re OK with going back into the dark places as well: they don’t seem that scary when you bring a big light with you.”

What do you want Melodies Of Atonement to achieve for Leprous?

“We’re very optimistic with this album. Optimism is fine, it’s just a positive feeling; expectation is worse. I try to live my life without expectation, but we’re optimistic, and we feel we have what we need to take the band some steps up the ladder. I think the worst-case scenario is that we grow just a little bit, because we always grow a little bit after each album. We’re never a band that’s been ‘trendy’ and, when you’re not trendy, you’re not relying on trends. It’s quite liberating. We’re super optimistic and believe that Melodies Of Atonement can take us a lot further.”

Melodies Of Atonement is out on August 30 via Inside Out. Leprous will tour Europe this summer and North America in the autumn. See dates and get tickets below.

Leprous 2024 tour dates:

May 31: Istres Rock À L’Usine, France
Jun 07: Gdansk Mystic Festival, Poland
Jun 14: Zamora Z! Live Rock Fest, Spain
Jun 15: Tomar Comendatio Music Fest, Portugal
Jul 03: Athens Rockwave Nights, Greece
Jul 05: Joensuu Illovaarirock, Finland
Jul 11: Brønnøysund Rootsfestivalen, Norway
Jul 13: Lignano Sabbiadoro Arena Alpe Adria, Italy
Jul 28: Manchester Radar Festival, UK
Aug 03: Brasov Rockstadt Extreme Fest, Romania

Sep 04: Nashville Eastside Bowl, TN
Sep 05: Atlanta Progpower USA, GA
Sep 06: Charlotte The Underground, NC
Sep 07: Baltimore Rams Head Live!, MD
Sep 08: Mckees Rocks Roxian Theatre, PA
Sep 10: Buffalo Town Ballroom, NY
Sep 11: Toronto The Opera House, ON
Sep 12: Montreal Beanfield Theatre, QC
Sep 13: New York Webster Hall, NY
Sep 14: Cambridge The Sinclair, MA
Sep 15: Philadelphia Union Transfer, PA
Sep 17: Pontiac The Crofoot Ballroom, MI
Sep 18: Cleveland House Of Blues, OH
Sep 19: Chicago Metro, IL
Sep 20: Madison Majestic Theatre, WI
Sep 21: Minneapolis The Lyric At Skyway Theatre, MN
Sep 23: Englewood Gothic Theatre, CO
Sep 24: Salt Lake City Soundwell, UT
Sep 26: San Francisco August Hall, CA
Sep 27: Anaheim House Of Blues, CA
Sep 28: Mesa The Nile Theatre Underground, AZ
Sep 30: Dallas Granada Theater, TX
Oct 01: Austin Mohawk, TX
Oct 02: Houston White Oak Music Hall, TX
Oct 04: Orlando The Plaza Live, FL
Oct 05: Fort Lauderdale Revolution, FL

Get tickets.

Matt Mills
Contributing Editor, Metal Hammer

Louder’s resident Gojira obsessive was still at uni when he joined the team in 2017. Since then, Matt’s become a regular in Prog and Metal Hammer, at his happiest when interviewing the most forward-thinking artists heavy music can muster. He’s got bylines in The Guardian, The Telegraph, NME, Guitar and many others, too. When he’s not writing, you’ll probably find him skydiving, scuba diving or coasteering.