“The perfect congregation of ideas”
Review by Moralabad
The Norwegian band released The Congregation on the 26th of May, two years after their album Coal. Their fifth studio album if we consider as the very first to Aeolia (2006) or their fourth if we count from Tall Poppy Syndrome. There are very different points of view on the internet for that, although I’m on the opinion of the second option just like the band said in its day.
The Congregation was announced months ago by the band as that congregation of own ideas used in Bilateral (2011) and Coal (2013). And actually it is. It can be seen both albums in one, in which the influences have been transformed in an own pure style, it’s the first 100% Leprous album.
This time the compositions have been managed by the leading voice, Einar Solberg, who not only has improved on this role but also as a singer. I’m sure he might be chosen as one of the best singers of the year, again. Having said that, we can’t forget the rest of the members of the band, because both guitars follow the legacy of Coal and their changing and unusual rhythms fit perfectly with the drums of the young new drummer Baard Kolstad, responsible of one of the most complicated part in the album. Jens Bogren has been in charge of the production, giving a very clean sound in the gentle parts and the muddled ones alike.
The length of the album goes over 60 minutes, divided into 12 tracks, being the longest work of the band until now. Be that as it may, it isn’t annoying at all because the variety of its songs gives to the listener a good entertainment. There are slow, fast and long tracks, making possible an enjoyable album.
As far as backing vocals are concerned we can notice a great evolution and the use of 8-string guitars provide a global deep sound as it joins to the conventional and classic o 6-string as we could see in the promotion of The Price.
The melodic lines of Bilateral appear through the window of Third Law where the voice of Solberg, really clean, shows the highest tones. It is the song that looks like the more to the album of 2011, and a very good one. The progressive track by definition arrives in a gentle way with the presence of the keyboards, introducing the voice and guitars until, in the end, unleashes the harsh and aggressive voice of Ihsahn. What a great tune this Rewind, that will convince every fan of the band without a doubt.
The reminiscence of Foe arrives with The Flood as the voice gives a perfect continuation while the melodies of both guitars and bass appear in a djent way as in Devin Townsend’s Planet of the Apes, ending with a very particular and own style. Another great song.
While the length is decreasing with Triumphant, the complexity increases with the drums parts and we come back to the vocal origins of Tall Poppy Syndrome as in Passing. We carry on with the exhibition of the new member in Within My Fence, a more “electronic” track because of the keyboards.
Red makes a change of scene just in the middle of the album, returning to a more progressive style to the guitar sound of Bilateral and to an unleashed Solberg in highest tones. He is the main character of the whole album without any doubt. Similar in time length is Slave, a more melancholic song, in its first half part is slow and with very deep guitars as it becomes faster in the second half. Again we have the apparition of Ihsahn. Very good election for the name of the song, indeed.
We fly to the Moon in a new delivery where the combination of their two last albums is more obvious. The notes of guitars and keyboards give a beautiful background to Einar’s voice. The chorus is catchy and invites to sing it since the beginning. So, Moon becomes one of the longest tracks of the album.
Down reminds me of The Price mainly in the riff, although it has a more ambient style just until the middle of the track, because from that moment it changes suddenly as if it was Forced Entry. In the end the backing vocals play a very good role in the chorus of Solberg.
The end of the album arrives with a song which name tells how it will be. Yes, Lower is one of the most calmed tracks of the album where every part go well with the leading voice in every moment. This is the official ending of the album, but there is one more shot. Pixel is the last bullet in the chamber. This bonus track recalls me to Painful Detour a lot. Mainly in the way it ends the album.
The Congregation has made a very strong apparition and with the intention to blow up our minds. An album to be one of the favorites of the year to almost everyone, so it will be for me. Thanks, Leprous!
1. The Price
2. Third Law
4. The Flood
6. Within My Fence
12. Pixel (bonus track)
Einar Solberg – Voice & keyboards
Tor Oddmund Shurke – Guitars & choirs
Oystein Landsverk – Guitars & choirs
Baard Kolstad – Drums
Simen Daniel Borven – Bass