If you haven’t been around for a long time, you might not know this, but Leprous’ Coal was one of my favorite albums in 2013. They created a unique sound for a progressive album and made interesting music with it.
The first thing that jumped out on The Congregation was how incredibly similar the sound is. Unfortunately, let’s break down the first part of the first track (the one they released early) to see that the song is kind of a step backwards.
It opens with jamming on some chords. The bass plays a rhythm on one note. Since this note doesn’t change as the chords change, it is known as a pedal tone and is the root of the first chord in the pattern. Then after quite some time, the whole pattern repeats with this lower note down a third.
This creates a “cool” effect by changing the first chord from a major triad to a minor 7th down a third. But since the bass note is meant more as an effect than having actual chordal content, the rest of the chordal pattern is the same.
The first time you hear it, it isn’t so bad. The timing on the chord hits isn’t very interesting. Sure they end the pattern with a triplet pattern to make it sound more complicated than it is (simple 4/4 all the way through). I don’t think they are trying to trick anyone, but it does feel a bit like a cheap trick in order to make something that isn’t very interesting sound more interesting. This is the problem on repeat listens.
This analysis can be transferred across the album to summarize my main thoughts on it. The album is full of effects to make things sound complicated to mask stuff that isn’t very interesting in its own right. Don’t get me wrong. Things don’t have to be complicated to be good. But faux complication is never good.
In the last album, I loved when they surprised you with interesting sounds. A characteristic sound was the fast pulsing quiet rhythm below long synths and high melodic vocals. It was different and exciting at the time. It’s hard to get excited about it on this album, because it isn’t new anymore. They lifted the sound directly from the last album.
This isn’t to say they aren’t doing anything new. There are lots of sections that are different from Coal, but it isn’t exciting like before.
Let’s end with something a little more positive. The melodic content is quite good. I often find the melodies stuck in my head, and some of the only moments I really like on the album are when the vocals stack into large dense chords. The melodies sound natural but have interesting chromatic alterations.
Overall, they seem to have taken many of the aspects of djent I don’t like and infused their music with it. I hate to say it, but I got bored with the album very quickly. It has only been out a few days, and I’m ready to move on.
I’ll give it a 6/10. Here’s a sample: