CD Reviews

Leprous - 'Live At Rockefeller Music Hall'

Added by Central Electronic Brain     March 01, 2017    
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This live record may well be one of those breakthroughs which opens them up to a deservedly wider audience.

The success of 'The Congregation' in 2015 came at a perfect time for Leprous. Part of a new breed of vibrant bands striking forth in the Progressive scene, 2016 also seems the perfect time for the release of the Norwegian Modern Prog Metallers' first live album. Captured at a hometown show in June this year, it finds them on peak form, providing an audio/visual showcase for their electrifying new material together with a nod to their recent past.

Vocalist Einar Solberg has placed the record in context by saying "I would not say we're closing a chapter with this release but rather showing what we've become". Intent on demonstrating the intensity of the live experience, the band and their recording/mixing/mastering team of David Castillo and Tony Lindgren have even taken the step of dropping one fan favourite from the live set to maintain the energy at a constant, needle nudging into the red, peak.

Naturally, a large proportion of '...Congregation' is heavily featured, as is a healthy portion of Solberg's enthusiasm, showing him as a front-man with passion and commitment demonstrated from the off. 'The Flood' comes across in a suitably stately fashion, punctuated by an angst-filled posturing high tenor, which is such a strong feature of the Leprous sound. It's the ice breaker for a set of grand and monolithic proportions which regularly reaches epic levels at peak moments. 'Red' is sung almost like a hymn, such is its status, and heralds a mid-set chunk of material showcasing the new album, sandwiched between a selection cherry picked from 'Coal' (2013) and 'Biliteral' (2011). The final 'Contaminate Me' is particularly brutal with the most diabolically and throat-ripping harsh vocal from guitarist Tor Oddmund Suhrke, contrasting sharply with a relaxing violin passage from guest Hakon Aase.

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The whole show is also captured on film in washes of dark and deep blue in-keeping with the soundtrack. The fast edits don't always make for the most comfortable watching experience yet they give a realistic glimpse, along with lots of strobe lighting, of the flashing intensity of the show. Multiple cameras capture shots from all around the venue including some nice glimpses from the rear to give an idea of scale to proceedings. It's also a chance to see the two drummers flaying away and the band indulging in plenty of head-banging/fringe shaking. The bonus material on the DVD ranges from a fascinating bootleg-type footage of the band at Rockefeller thirteen years earlier to some more recent promo films.

Live albums often come at a significant marker in a band's career – consider 'Live & Dangerous', 'Strangers In The Night', and 'Live At Leeds', amongst many others, which have launched or cemented a band's career. Anyone who has read Slash's autobiography will know that he's of the opinion that a band's live album is the starting point. He'd then go and steal the back catalogue. Not that we'd advocate music theft in any form, but his philosophy of "live album first" is a sound one. For Leprous, this live record may well be one of those breakthroughs which opens them up to a deservedly wider audience.

With some US and European dates in the pipeline supporting the Devin Townsend Project and with Between The Buried & Me/Tesseract in tow, it should be a blinding show.

Mike Ainscoe

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