03. The Cloak
04. The Valley
07. Contaminate Me
Considering Leprous‘s previous album Bilateral is considered by many to be a masterpiece of progressive metal; Norway’s Leprous had a tall order in front of themselves. Coming up with a followup to such a critically acclaimed and beloved album is no doubt a daunting task. Despite that, after two long years of waiting, Leprous have conjured the successor to Bilateral, and it’s called Coal. Usually, when bands release an album after their magnum opus, the result is either a “version 2.0″ of the previous album, or it’s a return back to the normal style of the band. Leprous have taken a bold turn instead, and they have reinvented themselves. Coal is clearly a Leprous album, carrying all their trademark touches, but it’s also very fresh and unique.
One of the original melodic death metal bands, Dark Tranquillity are still going strong after twenty years. Now, their tenth studio album Construct is on its way, and I’ve had the joy of being able to chat with singer Mikael Stanne about the album, his life and metal in general. He’s one of my favorite vocalists in metal, and he’s a great guy. So join me in my fanboy moment as Mikael shares the wisdom of a long and storied career as one of the innovators of a genre.
You all likely know the story by now; Extol are an influential progressive metal band out of Norway that disbanded in 2007 and reformed to much praise in 2012 with the promise of a new studio album. We even interviewed frontman Peter Espevoll while the band were wrapping up work on their new album. Their comeback couldn’t have come at a better time! Extreme prog is more popular than ever, and their influence has grown even more obvious, with The Faceless‘ Authotheism pulling pretty heavily from the Extol playbook.
After the long wait for details and new music, the band have finally delivered. Extol announced this week that their new self-titled album will be out this summer, and have given us their first new song since 2005 with ‘Open the Gates.’ Listen after the jump.
Last week, we debuted a new Leprous jam that got us all a little bit excited over the bands forthcoming album Coal. As a whole, Heavy Blog are pretty big fans of the Norwegian prog group, and it’s among our most anticipated releases of the year. The album artwork has finally been revealed, and it matches the new album’s supposedly darker and melancholic approach.
Scandinavian progressive metal tends to have a certain grandiosity and bombast about it that seems unparallelled by the rest of the world. We’ve been singing the praises of this particular subsection of music for some time now, what with Ihsahn, Enslaved, SHINING, Vintersorg, and more coming out over the years with strong records that capture the region’s unique musical nuance. One band in particular that has engrained themselves as a part of the growing attention brought to the region is Norway’s Leprous. Breaking out with the critical hit of their sophomore record Bilateral in 2011 and gaining notoriety as Ihsahn’s designated live band, they became a band to watch in 2013 as they prepared their follow-up, Coal. It’s certainly one of our most anticipated records this year, and we’re proud to present the band’s first single from the album, ‘Chronic,’ below.
There’s something in the water out there in Scandinavia that makes prog metal so wild, fun, and thought-provoking, a la Ihsahn, SHINING,Enslaved, and up-and-comers Leprous. Leprous have had us captivated since the release of their third record Bilateral. We featured Leprous on our list of albums to look out for in 2013, and the good news is finally starting to come in.
I had pretty much zero expectations from 2012, but it turned out to be an awesome year. This time, I have quite a bit of expectations from 2013, so it will probably be even better. Without further ado, let’s get down to it!
Leprous – TBA Third Album (Inside Out)
Since the first time I’ve heard Leprous, my tastes in music have been slowly changed by them. Bilateral is my second all-time favorite album (more on #1 later), I’ve become a huge fan of Nordic progressive metal, and that shows in this list. I love both Leprous albums and both EPs, so it’s safe to say that I’m looking forward to this release. Leprous’s blend of progressive metal is very heavy on the emotions, carried by Einar Solberg’s powerful voice and excellent songwriting by everyone in the band. They said that they’re hoping that the new album will be “great and a bit different”, which sounds exciting. They’ve posted a studio video which you can view here. The song they’re working on sounds heavier and more upbeat than some songs on Bilateral, and that will probably turn out to be awesome.
Robin Staps and his band of merry men are set to return this coming April with a brand new album, mixed by Jens Bogren (Opeth, Katatonia, Leprous) through Metal Blade records. The update was given this morning through the band’s Facebook page and contained a whole host of information, most notably the fact that although the album was originally planned to be entirely instrumental, instead the band have decided to produce versions with and without vocals. In Staps’ own words:
“The album was originally written to be instrumental, but in the end me and Loic couldn’t help but try out a few things vocalwise and we soon got pretty excited… so there will be vocals on the album; however, we want everyone to have both versions, and we are also planning to perform the album live that way – with and without vocals.”
Tacked on the end of the press release is another interesting snippet, that states the special edition will be accompanied by a film by Craig Murray, who most recently worked with Nine Inch Nails.
The, as of yet, unnamed album will see an April 29th release in Europe and an April 30th release in the US. We will keep you informed as information becomes available.
Maryland Deathfest, America’s self-proclaimed “biggest metal party of the year,” was fantastic this year. As much fun as I had and enjoyed the almost surreal dive into saturated metal subculture for that weekend, I was under the impression that it was going to be a one-time thing for me. Judging by how the lineup is looking for next year’s rendition and the promise in change of scenery however, I’ll likely be looking into making my return!
The next batch of bands have been announced, and includes Benediction and Ihsahn among the most promising groups. I wouldn’t call myself a fan of Benediction, but with them comes the remote possibility of Anaal Nathrakh, which shares a frontman in Dave Hunt and have played MDF before (if I’m not mistaken). Anyone who reads this site knows our collective love of Ihsahn, and a US Ihsahn show is hard to come by. Ihsahn coming over also brings to mind the possibility of his backing band Leprous getting their own set, and that’s an idea I can get behind. On top of that, my curiosity was also raised when Pig Destroyer, Carcass, !T.O.O.H!, Pelican, and Weedeater were announced. Maybe I’m idealizing and speculating a bit, but this has potential to be the best MDF yet.
BENEDICTION (UK) – Exclusive US show!
IHSAHN (Norway) – Exclusive US show!
INIQUITY (Denmark) – Exclusive US show!
GLORIOR BELLI – Exclusive US show!
Stay tuned for an announcement in September that will include additional headliners for next year’s fest, including the headliner for the Thursday show.
Regarding the venue information for next year, we are still sorting through our options and weighing out the pros and cons of each. There’s a chance that we’ll be ready to post the info before the end of August, but be aware that this could trickle into the first half of September. As of now, we do intend on keeping the fest in Baltimore close to hotels.We plan on having both the venue information and billing complete before the end of September. Tickets will likely go on sale around the first of October, but stay tuned for a precise date.