Leprous: Coal

Ihsahn’s backing band move into the light.

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The understated opening track here, Foe is a poised, clever introduction to an album that builds immeasurably from first song to last. Coal is the fourth studio release from Norwegian metallers Leprous, and it’s a real gem of a record.

There is inspiration here not just from well-versed Scandinavian luminaries such as Ihsahn (who appears on Chronic and Contaminate Me), but also sledgehammer grooves from Meshuggah and vocals nipped from under Danny Cavanagh’s nose.

The result is a vast, sweeping record that dispenses with the rich landscapes of, say, Katatonia and Anathema, preferring instead catchy vocal hooks and a healthy dose of low-end guitar mutilation. Somewhere between the plaintive ballad of immeasurable earworm The Cloak and the reinstatement of The Valley’s thunderous chorus, Leprous seem to move up a league.

Coal is exploratory and disorientating, and showcases the Norwegians’ feel for explosive, exciting, moving music. If Bi-Lateral got them the gig as Ihsahn’s backing band, then Coal shows how deftly Leprous have stepped out of his shadow and into their own light