We're excited to bring you yet another great album today, with the premiere of the new album from Norwegian progressive metal band Leprous, titled Bilateral. You can stream the album below.
Also, below the player you'll find our recent interview with Leprous guitarist Tor Oddmund Suhrke, the perfect reading material to go along with the album!
So a pretty wide range of influences comes through in this album. Who would you say are some of your biggest influences?
I think my biggest influences are bands like King Crimson, Porcupine Tree, Mars Volta -- bands like that. It's hard to point out specific bands, just that those are the bands that I'm most interested in listening to.
How about when you were first starting to play guitar...
I guess when we started Leprous in 2001 I'd been playing guitar for six months, and up until that point I had been playing from a guitar book from a Norwegian folk singer.
And then a few years later I was listening to different kinds of metal, like Opeth and Pain of Salvation. Mikael Akerfeldt was probably one of my more relevant inspirations, and of course Ihsahn was my guitar teacher for about a year.
You guys are refered to quite often as a "progressive" band. What does that term mean to you?
In my mind "progressive" should mean that you're developing something new. That's why the bands in the '70s were called progressive, they were exploring a different field of music. They were combining things that hadn't been done before, like combining classical music with rock.
To be called "progressive" today, I think you should bring something new into what you're doing. Dream Theater were one of the bands that invented the progressive metal genre, and they have all the right to sound like they do. But the bands that try to copy Dream Theater -- that's different because then the meaning behind "progressive" sort of falls away. [laughs]
Leprous does a very good job of balancing the so-called "progressive" elements with a more straight-ahead heavy metal template. Is that a conscious effort on the band's part not to stray down that path too far or is that just how the music comes naturally?
I'll say it's a bit of both. When we make music we try not to think too much about how the end result should be like, we just try to go with the mood and what we feel is right for the music. But then afterwards we always have this long, long editing process where we may be finished with a song, but then we play it live a couple of times and after playing it live we realize maybe a part doesn't work so well.
We try not to be too much of anything, we try to be balanced, but we're not too controlling.
Then of course sometimes we'll say, "Today I want to make the hardest song we've written so far," which was the starting point for the song "Waste of Air." We wanted to make something harder than what we usually make, and I think we ended up with more or less what we had in mind when we started.
What were your main guitars for Bilateral?
I played my PRS Custom 22. I really like the sound of that guitar. We have four songs I think on which we used 8-string guitars, but I liked the sound of the PRS so much that I tried to use it as much as possible on those songs as well. And of course the 8-string I used was an Ibanez, the RG2228.
Then for the acoustic guitars on the album I used a Babicz, which I really like the sound of. It's one of the few acoustic guitars I've tried that you don't have to mic, you can just plug it in and it has a very natural, acoustic sound.
How about amps and effects?
I primarily used my Mesa Boogie Dual Rectifier. We were recording and re-amping afterwards, and we re-amped the guitars using Blackstar amps. We tried out a lot of different sounds with the different overdubs and guitar tracks to find the correct blend. The Blackstar amp we used was a Series One 200.
One of the more surprising things on the album is the appearance of trumpet on the track "Thorn." How did that come about?
Actually when were were doing the final edits of "Thorn," we found that on that particular part of the song there was something missing, so we decided to fill out that part of the song with some instrument that wasn't that commonly used in metal. We knew a guy who played saxophone, but we knew that had been done a few times already. Then we thought of this guy who played trombone, but we ended up with this last guy we know who played the trumpet, because that's what fit with the recording schedules at the time.
We were using this church in Oslo to get the acoustics on the album right, and the time we had for that was the time we had available for the guy we knew who played trumpet.
Since you're mentioning that specific part, we also re-amped the keyboards in the same place we recorded the trumpet, and in the beginning of the song "Thorn" we placed some of the mics as far away from the source as possible at the entrance door of the church. So in that part of the song, you can hear this bus driving outside of the door! [laughs] That was a funny effect that we actually
Ihsahn also appears on "Thorn." Was his part added before or after the trumpet?
I think we added him before the trumpet, although I can see why you might think those things might have something to do with each other since he used brass in his albums, a saxophone. But actually it was more or less a coincidence that we ended up with Ihsahn because he was there as a technician while we recorded vocals and there was something about that part that we didn't feel was right, so he suggested that he try it and see if it sounded better, and we thought it sounded really cool.
I didn't realize until afterwards that now we had this song that we could add "Featuring Ihsahn" to, which is a really cool detail to write next to the song.
This interview will be going along with the album which will be streaming in its entirety on GuitarWorld.com. Is there anything you'd like to say to the people who are hearing this album for the first time?
Of course I really hope that you can find something interesting in our music. We tried to move a bit away from the traditional boundaries and since the album is pretty varied in its influences from song to song, I hope you find a common link between the songs and can enjoy all of them, even though some will probably be more appealing based on your individual tastes.
And of course we'll hopefully see as many of you as possible on one of our future tours!