Sunday, March 3, 2024

Leprous host a night of ethereal Prog and crushing riffs in Manchester

Leprous are no strangers to the UK and have been making regular trips here for several years and this show sees them with their best production value and scale yet. Accompanying them were fellow Scandinavians Kalandra and Progressive Metalcore legends Monuments. 

Kalandra went on first and I had no expectations outside of them being Prog based entirely on them opening for Leprous. To call Kalandra one of the best supporting slots I’ve heard this year would be an understatement to just how amazing they were. 

Kalandra are genre-defying in a lot of ways, imagine a Dream pop shoegaze band fronted by Florence Welch with the songwriting capabilities of Kate Bush all while creating this engaging live show complete with what looks like interpretive dance in the same vein as Lorde but is likely just frontwoman Katrine Stenbekk getting lost in the music in a manner that is absolutely haunting. 

At a certain point, there was a song played on some kind of animal horn that had been crafted into an instrument and the fact that this song doesn’t have a name yet makes the show feel all the more unique and adds an element of mystery that a band can only provide at a live show. 

It does them a disservice to give individual song recommendations, their debut album The Line came out in 2020 and it makes up a large portion of the set, it is absolutely worth your time to seek this album out. 

Next up was Monuments which was a drastic shift in pace that certainly amped up the energy after such a slow-paced and serene introduction to the show. They immediately commanded the audience’s undivided attention with ‘I, The Creator’ as it weaved inimitable complex musicianship with raw aggression and intensity in a manner that very few can pull off.

Monuments had some of the heaviest material of the entire show, particularly with tracks like ‘Leviathan’ that utilise the Djent sound without becoming a way to show off technical proficiency and instead focusing on making a song that has use outside of that, in this case – it got the entire room moving and they would repeatedly do this throughout their set. 

Vocalist Andrew Cizek’s vocal styling mirror that of an ambush predator, the man is unassuming and even welcoming based on his cheery on-stage demeanour and snazzy shirt, but the man delivers some of the most monstrous noises and soaring cleans you will hear in the modern metal scene. 

Monuments ended their set with ‘The Cimmerian’, a sweeping progressive epic that is much more in line with the rest of the bands on the lineup but still being abrasive and intense. The track spanned 8 minutes, which is on par for the course for Prog, but they utilised their time perfectly which is a difficult task for such technically gifted musicians. 

Leprous came out to the ambient drone of ‘Have You Ever’ which has a really addictive synth riff that plays throughout the opening as well as some really impressive vocal lines by Einar Solberg and the harmonies that went along with him were also stunning. 

The previous song acted as more of a tone setter and less of a grand introduction but they followed this with ‘The Price’, a massive heavy metal rager that showed off every instrumentalist and the immense amount of talent they all hold as well as their abilities to still craft catchy and memorable hooks without being branded “poppy” by Prog purists. 

‘Out of Here‘ has always been a favourite of mine on Aphelion and it sounds almost identical live, an impressive feat for such a complex song, Einar and the vocal harmonies make this a fantastic starting point for anyone looking to get into Leprous. 

‘Castaway Angels’ was absolutely awe-inspiring, there are only so many ways you can say how beautiful Einar’s vocals are without becoming mindlessly repetitive but he sounds Ethereal on this song, truly one of the best vocal performances of the night and perhaps in recent memory. 

The modern eras of Leprous took up the majority of the set but there was still some representation of the older eras of ‘Malina’ and ‘The Congregation’ but the biggest surprise was the addition of a track from Bilateral, ‘MB Indifferentia’, its low key synth tones provided this eir of cold which permeated throughout the room as a number of people struggled to place how and where they knew this deep cut from without alienating any of them. 

Leprous ended their set with a massive epic, ‘The Sky is Red’, a song that has become something of a modern Prog classic. It’s a sweeping epic that culminates in this grandiose crushingly heavy climax accented by an intricate light setup that adds so much weight to the whole stage show. 

It’s worth noting that Leprous aren’t a very talkative band so your enjoyment of their show is predicted entirely on how much you like their studio output. Leprous have been rotating songs throughout this tour so it’s likely you may hear some of these songs on your show and some may only be played a few times but they have such a wide repertoire of tracks in their back catalogue that they’ll always have something for everyone which is impressive. 

Lamestream Lydia
Lamestream Lydia
Self-proclaimed journalist, Progressive rock enthusiast and the most American sounding person you're ever likely to meet in the North of England

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