Leprous are a difficult band to categorise. They’re usually lumped in with progressive metal, having originally become known as the live backing band for Ihsahn from Emperor, but they’ve diverged significantly from where the majority of the genre finds itself now.
Their more atmospheric passages recall the ambient sketches found in the music of bands like Periphery or TesseracT, but there’s not really a ‘djent’ in sight. In fact, on Malina the guitars feel pretty clean and punchy; even on the heavier tracks like Coma, there isn’t the heft or aggressiveness normally associated with progressive metal. There are overblown, dramatic moments, though – witness the staccato guitar gallops of Illuminate and the soaring chorus of From The Flame. The deliciously elastic synth bend in the main riff of Mirage is as metal as they come, but there’s a bit more nuance to proceedings, with Einar Solberg’s melodic vocal providing a lot of dynamic depth, as well as the standout moments of the album, on tracks like Stuck. Malina is a varied and eclectic listen that despite its manifest progressive credentials is far from the darkness of previous work. There’s a playfulness about this record that, at its best, is nothing short of infectious.