One of the things I appreciate most, is musical innovation. When a band takes a clear risk, determined to move forward and explore new grounds. I even think that this kind of approach is necessary in creating a masterpiece. Most albums that are considered masterpieces to this day are albums that sounded nothing like their previous efforts. That’s why bands that are at the top of the prog world today, are bands that brought new elements and new fresh approaches.
Leprous’ sound is something that keeps evolving, stepping into new territories. But “Pitfalls” will probably remain as their most expansive musical innovation. When you look at the Leprous discography, this album will stand alone. It really is nothing like anything they’ve ever done. The core Leprous sound is definitely there. Only that this time, they’ve added tons of new musical and creative elements to it. It feels like now more than ever, the band is more focused on the sound and atmosphere they want to build in each song.
Even though every song stands on it’s own, and the songs are really different from one another, the album can probably be split into 2. One part has a clear pop influence. From the first track- “Below”, up to the fourth one “By My Throne”. The second has a clear prog influence. From “Alleviate” up to the last one, “The Sky Is Red”. After seeing Einar’s comments on “Alleviate” I realized he actually considers that song to also be pure Pop. Still I think that the first 4 songs are much more pop influenced. “Alleviate” sounds epic, and has one of Einar’s best vocal moments on the album.
So what can I say about the album? It’s amazing. It’s been on repeat constantly since I got it. Right now it’s my favorite Leprous album, and I can’t say anything bad about it. After hearing the 2 singles that were released I’m sure you won’t be surprised when I say that it’s Einar’s best vocal performance to date. His singing is just phenomenal. I also think that the vocals take a much more central role in the album.
Even though the album was described by the band as “controversial”, and it does sound nothing like previous ones I still think that every Leprous fan will find something about it that he loves. Still, I think that it will make a HUGE impact for most fans as a whole. Leprous really took things to the next level with this one, and I’m personally hugely impressed by their decision to create such a bold statement with their 6th album.
Let’s go over the different tracks:
- “Below”- You all heard this one. It’s the first single and when I heard it for the first time I was really surprised. It’s a great opener for the album. The melody of the chorus is powerful, and the whole sound of the song is really unique, combining electronic elements, with orchestral elements to create an epic feel. I was listening to this one on repeat when it first got out. It builds a dark and dramatic feel.
- “I Lose Hope”- this one has an entirely different feel to it. This one is a pure Pop song. Has a great solid chorus, and great melody. It starts off with the drums and bass laying down the basic beat, with the guitar joining in. I think it’s a great song.
- “Observe The Train”- This one is much more centered around the vocals and keyboards. It’s really atmospheric and all the other instruments are much more focused on supporting the main melody led by the keys and vocals in a minimal way.
- “By My Throne” – An up-bit track. Very unique and special. From the intro which features a great guitar riff emphasizing the beat of the drums, to the poppy verses supported by the rhythm of the bass, to the layered vocals in the chorus. Heavily pop influenced. Combining the violin in support of the main melody turns out really great. The amount of work really shows on the tiny details of the sound. This album really is focused on shaping the sounds of the instruments as a whole and every time you hear it, you notice some new detail that helps make this album sound so good.
- “Alleviate” – You all heard this one too. I love it. Amazing melody in the chorus, and an unbelievable vocal performance. Love the build up to the final chorus too. The song is so short that the build up to that amazing final chorus is basically the entire song, so it’s very satisfying getting there.
- “At The Bottom”- one of the best songs on the album. The chorus is insanely good and will be stuck in your head. Again, it features an amazing vocal performance. Because it’s longer, and more proggy, the band is able to create different moods and sounds within the song. It peaks close to the end of the song. The violin is building up to the bridge with a beautiful, layered melody. When the vocals enter, it will leave you speechless. It’s really emotional and epic sounding. It features one of the best vocal moments on the album. This song will be AMAZING to see live. Especially the final part.
- “Distant Bells”- Even though it’s the same length as “At The Bottom”, this one focuses much more on building the melody from nothing up to an amazing climax, so it feels longer, and more epic. It could have easily been the closer of the album. It starts off really quiet. Beautiful piano accompanies Einar’s voice along with the violin. You get to hear the melody of the chorus but it’s more disoriented and calm. The verse is really atmospheric until it gets to the chorus. Again, Einar is singing beautifully.
- “Foreigner” – Great song. It’s probably the only song on the album that can be described as “regular”. It’s classic Leprous. Great melodies, and great riffs.
- “The Sky Is Red”- This one is also nothing like anything they’ve done. But it doesn’t feel like a closer to me. Very eclectic and unique. Many parts within the song feel disoriented on purpose. It’s a song I had to hear many times before I could wrap my head around it, and really get it. It’s complicated and filled with so much things going on so it takes a few listens to really appreciate everything that’s going on. But definitely one of the best songs on the album in my opinion.
To sum things up- It’s filled with amazing performances, a great attention to detail, and a HUGE step forward for the band. This album was done amazingly. I have to give it a 10/10. right now, this album is album of the year for me. This is saying a lot, considering it competes with amazing releases like Devin Townsend’s “Empath”.