Rating:
9.0
Leprous - Tall Poppy Syndrome
5 May 2009


01. Passing
02. Phantom Pain
03. Dare You
04. Fate
05. He Will Kill Again
06. Not Even A Name
07. Tall Poppy Syndrome
08. White


If you're looking for some prog/avantgarde goodness without all the pointless technicality, just awesome songs, but still with a great original edge to which you can even headbang (Headbanging to prog? Who am I kidding?), these Norwegian gentlemen provide your cure.

I am writing this review one year after Leprous' next album, Bilateral was released. Yes, said album turned many heads, yes, it got promoted like crazy by Ihsahn, yes, most people who know the band now know it because of that album (me among them) and for many of us, it remains one of the great surprises of 2011 (which is a big deal, considering how progtastic 2011 proved to be). But let's take a look at what their previous release had to offer. Is it as groundbreaking as the follow-up, only less promoted and fallen through the cracks?

For those of you who have never heard of Leprous, they are a Norwegian gathering playing extreme progressive/avantgarde metal, but not with the typical themes of today's avantgarde scene. No good comparison can be brought up with other bands, but suffice it to say, they are powerful, with passionate melodic vocals, and a playful, party-bound edge.

Now, for the present release, I can't help but compare it to the aforementioned successor, Bilateral. I know you usually compare an album to its predecessors, but here, since I am probably not the only one who heard the successor first, let's say it is justified. Let me come out and say I am someone who likes to analyze an album as a whole, an experience, not so much song-by-song. And I think this is the right attitude with which to approach Tall Poppy Syndrome.

And I have to say, I feel this album is much more free-flowing and natural than its successor. I can just imagine how much fun it must have been making it, and that kind of "screw it, let's just have fun making an album" attitude always shows on the final product. Bilateral seems to suffer from a bit of pressure to give a great performance, it contains more stick-out single songs for the rapid consumption of the masses. This pressed and anxious workflow will definitely shine through when you don't just rely on technicality to make your music, but more on passionate delivery and atmosphere. Don't get me wrong, this feeling only arises when I look at the two albums back to back, they both still get the job done 100%.

So, Tall Poppy Syndrome might take more time to befriend the audience: it's harder to take in, but the reward is great. You just can't put the album down once you get hooked. The crisp sound, the great musicianship, the once again awesome and passionate vocals by singer Einar Solberg only further propel the album with great production value. Also, keyboard fillings are much less prominent here, it makes the album a bit more guitar-oriented, which I don't think is a bad thing, especially for those who also want to headbang and rock out to the music (which believe me, gives you ample opportunity). That's not to say it's not great listening at home or in the car. I personally drove hundreds of kilometers blasting this in the car and screaming together with it.

So, if you miss the passion and headbanging from today's avantgarde-prog scene, definitely give this album a listen.

Personal highlights include: "Phantom Pain", "He Will Kill Again" and "White".

Performance: 8
Songwriting: 10
Originality: 10
Production: 9


Band profile: Leprous
Album: Tall Poppy Syndrome


 


written by embracing | 09.12.2012


Guest review disclaimer:
This is a guest review, which means it does not necessarily represent the point of view of the MS Staff.



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LeKiwi - 09.12.2012 at 03:36  
Good job considering the difficulty in reviewing this I'd say the most captive songs for me in order would be Passing, White, and Phantom Pain. Only song I didn't enjoy was the title track which lacked the dynamics in other tunes and pushes too far towards the borders of avant-garde. Top 5 albums of all time for me
embracing - 09.12.2012 at 10:56  
Written by LeKiwi on 09.12.2012 at 03:36

Good job considering the difficulty in reviewing this I'd say the most captive songs for me in order would be Passing, White, and Phantom Pain. Only song I didn't enjoy was the title track which lacked the dynamics in other tunes and pushes too far towards the borders of avant-garde. Top 5 albums of all time for me


Well said, thanks. The title track is definitely the black sheep of the album, but I just love that spoken text towards the end, with the jazzy underline
Cheers
K†ulu - 09.12.2012 at 14:32  
Great review. And I agree with everything you when you compare Poppy to Bilateral in the last two (real) paragraphs. It's time to revisit this album by the way...
embracing - 09.12.2012 at 18:45  
Written by K†ulu on 09.12.2012 at 14:32

Great review. And I agree with everything you when you compare Poppy to Bilateral in the last two (real) paragraphs. It's time to revisit this album by the way...


Thanks This album's always worth revisiting. But also, I hear a new album is coming sometime in the next year :O
Fingers crossed!
Kuroboshi - 20.12.2012 at 01:02  
I'm one of those shallow persons who prefer Bilateral. But this is still a very competent album. Let's hope next year will bring some fantastic new Leprous songs. Great review.

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