Leprous – Malina (CD)

There is a constant tug-of-war in the progressive music community, especially among the more popular bands in the genre, the push-and-pull of being as esoteric as possible and adopting a more standard poppy arrangement.  Though Leprous may be accused of veering dangerously close to capitalizing on the lowest common denominator demographic with their newest effort “Malina”, this is by no means a weak record.  Malina is the sonic onion whose beauty is only obtained by working through all the layers.

My experience with Leprous before this review was The Price from their 2015 record The Congregation whose verse riff was off-kilter enough for my internal body rhythm to completely reject it. It was only after a couple of listens that I began to wake up to the genius of that song. Rewind from the same record was absolutely hectic, and built up to be almost claustrophobic with its intensity, and will always be among my favorite tracks by these Norwegian progsters.

With Malina, Leprous decided to go for more straightforward arrangements in their verse-chorus song structures and shorter song lengths. This makes Malina a great gateway record to this band, or even this genre as a whole.  However, this does not take away from the masterful composition that makes Leprous as quintessential to this genre. Though Leprous have never been the band that relied on heavy-handed wankery that many other prog bands are guilty of being. Their beauty is in the subtlety of technicality. Malina is chock-full of natural sounding syncopations and off-timed signatures that blend together to an almost standard structure. Never has an album quite made me want to sit up and count measures and be amazed by how well-crafted yet absolutely cheekily they throw in unconventional time signatures. For example, in their first single From the Flame, the verse structure is in 13/8! A casual listener would not notice that as easily. Captive opens with an absolutely bombastic drum solo set in 17/16, which gets reduced to a standard 4/4 by chopping off the “extra” beat. I gave up trying to measure Mirage because there were just too many time signatures for my non-Berklee trained ears to catch! New to this record is the addition to longer string arrangements, which can be gloriously experienced via the grandiose outro of the single Stuck and the album closer The Last Milestone.

Only superlative musicians can bring us such a cohesive progressive record which the listener can get lost in. Whether it is bouncing to the pseudo-percussive guitar work by guitarists Tor Suhrke and newest addition Robin Ognedal, or grooving along with those delicious bass lines by Simen Borven, Leprous works with the artistic restraint of a veteran maestro. The real standout performances in this record are the vocals and the drums. Vocalist Einar Solberg is absolutely swinging for the fences with his vocal performances. We get the whole gamut of his range of vocals; from tender croons in the title track Malina to the powerful, anthemic proclamation that is the chorus of From the Flame to the pretty-boy poppy tones in Stuck, Solberg handles his duties with effortless panache.

In my opinion, the Zeus of the Leprous pantheon has to be the drummer, Baard Kolstad, who may well be among the best (or at least, my favorite) drummers in the progressive rock/metal scene today. His drumming on the aforementioned Rewind off The Congregation is nothing short of maniacal, and he doesn’t hold back while providing catchy off-timed rhythms through every track in Malina. Numerous fills adorn this album that cannot be described as anything short of floral. The snare intro for Captive is breathtaking. I almost believe that unlike other prog bands, the Kolstad and his drums lead the charge in Leprous.

Overall, Malina is the musical equivalent of showing your favorite math problem to your “metal is just noise” girlfriend!

Overall Rating: 8.5/10

Notable tracks: From the Flame, Stuck, Illuminate

Leprous – Malina (CD) / Inside Out Music / 11 tracks / http://www.insideoutmusic.com/artist.aspx?IdArtist=488 /

Dying Fetus – Wrong One to Fuck With (CD)

Dying Fetus is one of those artists that are always on the list of bands I use to scare away my non-metalhead friends, especially those who subscribe to the “metal is noise” school of thought. Just to bristle their jimmies some more, the band name itself is like adding cayenne to their already bleeding ears. I cannot get enough! Continue reading “Dying Fetus – Wrong One to Fuck With (CD)”

Bad Omens – Bad Omens (CD)

Imagine the metalcore-world we live in now, where Asking Alexandria is still trying to find its way back to its metalcore roots, and Bring Me The Horizon have arguably made the decision to go in a more commercialized direction with their new record. Pray tell where should we find our new Warped Tour-core messiahs now? I have found the answer: Bad Omens. They are setting the scene on fire with their debut self-titled CD. Continue reading “Bad Omens – Bad Omens (CD)”

Dræmings – The Eternal Lonesome (CD)

Sumerian Records are one of my favorite modern metal record labels and its founder Ash Avildsen has a keen eye for up and coming artists. Veritable modern metal juggernauts like Periphery, Animals as Leaders, Veil of Maya, Born of Osiris, etc. have been pushed into the limelight by Sumerian Records and they have instantly become crowd favorites in the metal scene. So when Sumerian signed Dræmings, I was admittedly confused. After the first listen of their first single Battle Mountain, all my doubts were cleared and I was instantly converted. Continue reading “Dræmings – The Eternal Lonesome (CD)”

Aborted – Retrogore (CD)

Belgium, home to arguably the best waffles, arguably the best beer, and certainly, the best deathgrind band in the world, Aborted. It seems that the Lords of Gore decided to turn the crazy dial to maximum insanity on the 12 track, 43-minute carnivorous abomination that is their newest record, Retrogore. Continue reading “Aborted – Retrogore (CD)”

Heaven Shall Burn – Wanderer (CD)

 

You cannot talk about German melodic death metal and metalcore and not mention the two giants, Caliban and Heaven Shall Burn. We are lucky to see stellar new releases from both bands. Gravity by Caliban is already on my lists of must-listen albums, and HSB’s new banger Wanderer proves to be another favorite for a long time to come. Continue reading “Heaven Shall Burn – Wanderer (CD)”

Caliban – Gravity (CD)

 

Oh boy, this one yanked me straight back to my high school days. I grew up as a melodic death metal and metalcore fanboy, and the German dudes in Caliban were always a staple on my playlist. To tell you the truth, in my earnest effort to be a trve metalhead, Caliban were one of the unfortunate bands to fall through the cracks, but when I was asked to review their 2016 album Gravity, I couldn’t help but jump to the opportunity. I will try my best to keep my high-school enthusiasm to a minimum, because Gravity is a phenomenal album. Continue reading “Caliban – Gravity (CD)”

Metal Blade Releases Theories’ Regression

Deathgrind has always been one of those genres that I can only listen to for a few songs by a few bands before I move onto something else, but I definitely love those few songs. Seattle natives Theories have definitely cemented themselves on my list of formidable artists in this niche genre. They can be easily hailed among the ranks of Aborted, Misery Index, and even grind-ier bands like Napalm Death, and Nasum with their newest album Regression released on Metal Blade Records. Continue reading “Metal Blade Releases Theories’ Regression”

Obscura – Akróasis Review

In the beginning there was Death, then there was Necrophagist, and now there is Obscura, paving the way for technical death metal in the new era. I loved their last offering in 2011’s Omnivium, but was dismayed by the amount of line-up changes that were happening in the German camp leading up to the writing of what would be Akróasis. As soon as the first song Sermon of the Seven Suns began to play, all my doubts were immediately cleared, and I knew I was in for a stellar album. Continue reading “Obscura – Akróasis Review”

Toothgrinder – Nocturnal Masquerade

The first time I heard the name Toothgrinder, I was instantly thrown back to San Francisco’s now defunct metal juggernauts Animosity and their 2007 song of the same name. I loved Animosity’s brand of metal, so I secretly hoped that this New Jersey five piece would live up to the hype created by its name alone. And my God, they did!Toothgrinder - Nocturnal Masquerade Continue reading “Toothgrinder – Nocturnal Masquerade”