Leprous: The Congregation

Ihsahn’s progressive protégées find every which way but loose

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It’s no surprise that a band mentored by Emperor linchpin Ihsahn should so clearly strive to be about feel and emotion, not just demonstrating how technically accomplished they are.

Leprous’s fourth album is the most song-orientated yet from the Nordic prog metallers, the structures more clear, the soaring vocals steering your attention more firmly, providing some hooks to draw you along while your brain puzzles out the myriad ideas flying around.

The raw insanity they’ve toyed with in the past is reined in, creating a strained, pent-up atmosphere that nicely simmers you to the point of demanding release, and then occasionally lets rip in a well-timed burst of intensity, plus there are some tender, contemplative moments – not least The Flood and Moon – that, in a way reminiscent of Anathema, don’t slack off the tension.

The Congregation is an engaging and largely satisfying affair – even if it’s a tad too long. You sense that Leprous haven’t quite let themselves go as fully as they could, and that their finest work will come when they do./o:p