Review Summary: Bilateral is an experience that should not be missed by any fan of progressive music.
Just go take a nice good look at the album art, before we get any further. No, not the dinky little thumbnail on the side, go grab yourself the full resolution version. Go ahead, there's no rush. Seriously. Go do it.
Great. No, I don't really know what the hell was going on either. But for me at least, such a picture is only fitting, because it encompasses all that Leprous' Bilateral is; unique, attention grabbing, and incredibly difficult to define. Bilateral is an absolute gem, and a conglomerate of more influences and styles of progressive metal than I care to name off. At the very least it's an experience, one that you would be unfortunate to miss.
Bilateral is first and foremost a progressive metal album, but its roots go so much deeper than just that. Some sections sound downright jazzy, while others approach the sort of extreme metal vibe you might find in the more eclectic bands of the progressive metal genre. So how to begin to describe this enigma of an album, that eludes definition so sublimely? Well for starters, it's damn good. Yes, all the technical wankery you would expect from a prog metal album is present here. The members of Leprous are not slouches when it comes to their given instruments. Einar Solberg is proficient on vocals as well, albeit perhaps a little generic. But for all the band members skill, this isn't why Bilateral is such a strong album. No, this is due to the bands incredible song writing prowess.
Every song on bilateral has its own style, flavor, and sound. Yet at the same time, the album has a cohesive feeling to it, which makes it more enjoyable to listen to start to finish instead of track by track. This is due in part to the fantastic pacing of the album, which switches from heavy and extreme to lulling and mellow almost on a track by track basis. As the album changes, so too does the accompanying vocal style, which range from soaring harmonies to high pitched growls and back again without a hitch. It's a good thing too, because the vocals are often what seems to be driving the album forward, pushing towards the next big climax or slowing things down to a more gentle pace. This sort of variety in a single album is a rare find, and whats more, its done well. A tall order for a band that's only released three albums thus far.
Yes, Leprous pulls off all of this so well it's difficult to find anything particularly wrong with the album. Perhaps my biggest criticism is the the lack of meaning behind some of the songs. This isn't to say that the tracks aren't emotionally charged, because they are. But, as with much of the genre, cheese is abundant here, and I'm often left wondering what it is they're singing about, exactly. Perhaps, like the album art, Bilateral's greater meaning is lost on me. But that doesn't make it any less enjoyable to listen to.
No one single element stands out as being absolutely superb on Bilateral. The musicians are skilled, but by no means the most gifted out there. The vocals are powerful and varied, but not exactly of stand out quality. The songs are emotionally strong, but not really all that meaningful. It's the way that Leprous is able to bring all these elements together, the way they're able to blend so many different styles and genres into a single album, and the way their expert song writing is able to grab hold of you that makes this album so special. Leprous' Bilateral is a shining example of what progressive metal is capable of, and is an album that any fan of the genre should be sure not to miss.