Einar Solberg
The Congregation Acoustic


3.2
good

Review

by Trey STAFF
February 20th, 2024 | 17 replies


Release Date: 02/16/2024 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Grand Piano and Einar's vocals... is that enough?

On February 20th 2022, Einar Solberg performed Leprous’ The Congregation in its entirety. This event was witnessed by thousands of fans across the globe in the corresponding live-stream (in addition to those lucky enough to be there in person). On paper, it might seem like a stripped-down version of one of Leprous’ most eclectic albums wouldn’t work, but it mostly does in small doses. While the original was dominated by twitchy rhythms, moody atmospheres, explosive dynamics, busy percussion, and Einar’s soaring vocal acrobatics, this version is simply Einar Solberg and his grand piano. The unfortunate truth is that, while good, a solo Einar simply can’t fill all the gaps this stripped down version contains.

In the promotion for the live stream, Einar admitted that The Congregation is probably the Leprous album least suited for an acoustic performance. While a compelling argument could be made that none of the Leprous releases are really suited for a stripped down rendition, I see his point. The Congregation was dominated by twitchy rhythms, moody atmospheres, explosive dynamics, busy percussion, and Einar’s soaring vocal acrobatics and unexpected harsh interludes – without all of that, what is left? Really, the only elements left are Einar’s soaring vocals and the moody atmospheres; everything else has been replaced with sparse piano melodies. If there is one real gripe I have with this album it is that the piano only rarely manages to provide anything interesting. I would have liked to have seen Einar attempt to recreate (to the extent possible) the musical portion of The Congregation with just piano melodies. Instead, the piano performance is minimal, mostly just providing an underlying foundation for Einar’s vocals; rarely recreating any of the musical themes or melodies of the original songs. This places the weight of the entire performance on the voice of Einar. Of course, if you’re a fan of his singing, you already know that his vocals are enough to carry even the most standard of songs, and in this intimate setting, he is able to deliver the fear, sadness, and melancholy of The Congregation unabated. This is generally enough to make each track a compelling listen, but not nearly enough to carry the entire album. Unfortunately, as a whole, The Congregation Acoustic's lethargic pace and uniformity is too much for one sitting, and that is its ultimate undoing.

I can see how experiencing this performance in a live setting would be entertaining. It would have been awesome to sit in that performance hall and feel the piano notes vibrate through you while catching the full acoustics of the room. Even watching the stream improved the experience significantly because you can see how much Einar is truly putting into the performance, and it’s hard to not start to feel the same thing. On its own, however, the music of The Congregation Acoustic is only compelling in short bursts, and simply can’t carry an entire release. Overall, The Congregation Acoustic is worth checking out, but do so in chunks and at a time when you don’t have anything to distract you.



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user ratings (8)
3
good


Comments:Add a Comment 
Willie
Moderator
February 20th 2024


20212 Comments

Album Rating: 3.2

The Flood Acoustic (Live Stream Performance): https://youtu.be/WME8a5HK2Xk?si=bze74rO3ev2tDmVC



https://insideoutmusic.bandcamp.com/album/the-congregation-acoustic-24-bit-hd

Mongi123
February 20th 2024


22034 Comments


No…it’s not. I largely prefer leprous when they are MASSIVE because it suites Einars theatrical performances more. He’s amazing when the band is metal or prog rock, not pop or quiet acoustics.

mindleviticus
February 20th 2024


10484 Comments


#bringbackmetalleprous

mindleviticus
February 20th 2024


10484 Comments


Also this is almost as unlistenable as that orchestral blind guardian album

Willie
Moderator
February 21st 2024


20212 Comments

Album Rating: 3.2

When I was catching this a couple of songs at a time, it was good. When I started listening from start to finish for the review, it was tough.

Pikazilla
February 22nd 2024


29698 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

#bringbackbandleprous [2]



they started getting progressively worse from congregation onwards, someone tell Einar to stop writing Leprous albums solo

Willie
Moderator
February 22nd 2024


20212 Comments

Album Rating: 3.2

I kind of have the opposite opinion. I like all their albums, but Malina and Pitfalls are my favorite studio albums.



Pitfalls > Malina > The Congregation > Aphellion > Coal > Bilateral > Tall Poppy Syndrome

Hawks
February 22nd 2024


86681 Comments


Pika listens to 12 seconds of every new album in existence then rates it and forgets about it. Literally every single new album rated within 5 minutes. There's no way in fuck you jam all this stuff so fast and be able to form an opinion lmao. What a chode.

Pikazilla
February 22nd 2024


29698 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

hawks still malding and I don't understand why



my leprous ranking



Bilateral > Tall Poppy > Coal > Congregation > Malina > seriously fuck the rest

Willie
Moderator
February 22nd 2024


20212 Comments

Album Rating: 3.2

@Hawks: If you're just casually listening to music, I think you can form a pretty solid opinion after just a few songs. If you don't like the album's sound or the vocals or the feel or whatever, you can generally figure it out after a song or two. Rating shit on Sputnik doesn't need to be a Scientific Process. If you're going to review an album, you should listen to the whole thing a few times, but otherwise...



@Pika: I don't know why either. As for Leprous, Malina was my first exposure to them, so that might have shaped my overall opinion on their discography.

Pikazilla
February 22nd 2024


29698 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

I generally listen to most new releases that catch my eye



I'm just wondering which one of my comments/opinions/ratings set off Hawks's hissy fit



I understand if Malina was your first Leprous experience



Mine was Bilateral way back when they were still primarily Ihsahn's backing band

Willie
Moderator
February 22nd 2024


20212 Comments

Album Rating: 3.2

I do too. I just scroll through Apple Music new releases and add them all to a 2024 (current year) playlist. Most of them, I make it though a song or two or maybe half of like three or four songs. Then it's rated and deleted. As for Hawks... don't know?

brennandew
February 22nd 2024


1 Comments


I read in an interview or AMA that the Congregation was almost entirely written by Einar, while Pitfalls for example was written by the entire band. Distant Bells I believe was written entirely by their bassist. Everyone keeps assuming it's all Einar solo albums now lol

Mongi123
February 23rd 2024


22034 Comments


Bilateral and TC are sooooo godly

FrozenFirebug
February 23rd 2024


812 Comments


my impression when listening to the congregation for the first time went something like
"wow this guy can't sing"
to
"wow this guy sings funny"
to
"wow this guy can sing"
to
"wow this guy is good at singing funny"
to
"wow this guy is swedish"
to
"wow this is good because the guy sings funny"
to
"wow this guy singing funny over anything else would probably sound like shit"
to
"wow this album is cool"
to
"wow this guy actually isn't swedish"

wildinferno2010
February 25th 2024


1874 Comments


I've been listening to a lot of these guys and I've warmed a lot to Einer-writes-everything -era Leprous, but this might be a bit much. This sounds like it'd be really boring lol

SrpskiCekic
April 12th 2024


159 Comments


Way to drain all the energy from an album that really hinges on it. In other news, he's still an amazing vocalist.



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