LEPROUS
"Bilateral"

(InsideOut Music)

01. Bilateral
02. Forced Entry
03. Restless
04. Thorn
05. Mb. Indifferentia
06. Waste Of Air
07. Mediocrity Wins
08. Cryptogenic Desires
09. Acquired Taste
10. Painful Detour

RATING: 8/10

They've been called progressive and avant-garde, which can be loosely translated as "out there." On "Bilateral" Norwegian boundary pushers LEPROUS pull out all the stops, then drive the vehicle past all of them, somehow in several different directions at once. Though listener satisfaction may not always arrive via direct means, the act doesn't forsake melody by any stretch of the imagination. Still, if it is immediate gratification that you seek, then you best look elsewhere.

Yet for as much personal investment that is required to absorb "Bilateral", LEPROUS haven't completely ignored the want of those outside of prog-head circles to hear a tune with which they can hum along; for the most part anyway. Beginning the trip (a more operative word could not exist in this context) with such a catchy title track — that opening is pure vocal triumphant — may in fact work to give the unsuspecting a false sense of security. But it's not the following track, "Restless", that'll start throwing folks for loops of any substantial size, its blend of outright heaviness, groove, and melody within which you may hear snippets of everyone from SAGA to PAIN OF SALVATION, working to ensure you'll not soon forget it. The 3:30 duration has something to do with that as well. By this point you'll either be sold or disoriented with vocalist Einar Solberg's wild swings of range and inflectional quirkiness. At this point it's "game on," the album then dives into 10 minutes of pure prog on "Forced Entry", Solberg's madly scientific synth work matched only by another display of impressive vocal versatility. Included are falsetto melody lines that'll swear you've heard at some point in the past before you give up and succumb to one of the album's most memorable moments. The journey into sound gets no less adventurous, at times tiresome as well, as LEPROUS introduce brass into the appealingly odd "Thorn", bring it down to a soothing level on "Mb. Indifferentia", toughen it back up on "Waste of Air", inject a little rumble into the reach on "Mediocrity Wins", mellow out on "Acquired Taste", and wrap it all up with eight and a half minutes of quality prog on "Painful Detour".

It'll be no surprise to read reviews dubbing this a watershed moment in progressive rock or at least praising "Bilateral" for its musical brilliance. That musical brilliance cannot be argued and while any immediacy of tunefulness will be found largely in the ear of the beholder, what LEPROUS have done on here can be quite awe inspiring. It may also be a tad overwhelming to those with more traditional tastes.

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