How Leprous went from prog to progger on new album Malina
Ihsahn’s former backing band have gone full prog on their latest album, Malina. As frontman Einar Solberg tells Prog, Leprous are still searching for their true identity
It could be so easy to assume that Leprous belong to the darkest corner of heavy metal. For starters, their name has all the associations of a band that distil their very being into a sonic sledgehammer of blood, guts and gore.
“It has almost become a curse for us, that name,” laughs the band’s lead singer and keyboardist Einar Solberg, who is more relaxed and chatty than his wired, reticent stage persona suggests. “And, of course, we played with Ihsahn.”
As the brother-in-law of the multi-talented baron of black metal, Solberg’s connections with Ihsahn run deep. The nihilistic prog of Ihsahn’s solo work might be familiar to Prog readers, but it’s his history with black metal torchbearers Emperor – whose band members included those incarcerated for church burning and arson – that has caused indirect associations to be made between Leprous and the black metal inner circle. And this is why ‘Ihsahn’s backing band’ is a subtext which has compounded the illusion that Leprous are Satan’s biggest fans.
And yet their newest album Malina is their closest dalliance with prog rock yet, having more in common with Marillion than the ritualistic rebellion against Christian ideologies.
The truth is, Leprous were heavy once: a very long time ago when they played as teenagers and wore corpse paint on stage. But by the time they had released their first album, 2009’s Tall Poppy Syndrome, they had become a certified prog band with not a smear of blood in sight.
“A band can be one thing for so many years,” notes Solberg, “and then change into something completely different. I think that’s kind of cool. It’s better than creating new projects all the time.”