For the past year and a half, humankind has lived through uncertain and painful times, where everything we used to take for granted has dramatically changed. All of us have lost something to some extent during such times. Whether it was the irreparable loss of someone dear to us, or the terror of suddenly finding ourselves without a job or, for those lucky enough, at least their plans were affected in a way.
One of the different industries that continue to be severely affected until today is the music industry. Sometimes crises give rise to opportunities, so when countless concerts were canceled worldwide, the livestream emerged as an adequate option, making the absence of live music more bearable. If a band has made the most out of the possibilities that live-streaming can provide, it certainly has to be Leprous.
The Norwegian band has performed numerous concerts via streaming in which almost their whole discography has been played. Some of them involved metal artist Ihsahn; another one was interactive, which meant that the virtual audience could choose the songs the band would play. Even two members performed a live-stream in solitary. All those shows display how they adapted and make the most out of the current circumstances. That is Leprous nature. They are constantly adapting to new ideas, surrounded by new environments and challenges, which eventually leads to the evolution they have experienced throughout their career.
Their latest streaming event saw the band playing their newest album Aphelion, which in a bold move, took place just two days before the album dropped. Taking into consideration the different time zones, the band opted to perform the show two times, where audiences across the world, as well as the one inside the venue, got the chance to hear for the first time the tracks that make up the new album in its entirety.
Since the concert consisted of playing Aphelion, the band dragged the viewer into a visceral experience that enclosed a melancholic, unpredictable, and incredibly introspective ride. However, due the songs being so intense and dramatic, the pauses between them and diverse comments by the band, served as a relief from such the heated experience that Aphelion is, as this review states.
The band was in fantastic form, and the execution was flawless. The constant close-ups allowed the virtual audience to appreciate what there were playing at the occasion. At times, it was elegant or minimalistic, and other times was quite complex and wild. Einar once again displayed the prowess of his voice by reaching different registers that exposed the impressiveness of his vocal range. Even though he did it with what he labeled as a Bryan Adams type of voice since it was the second show they performed with few hours between them.
One of the main responsible for the intense and emotional soundscape in Aphelion certainly is cellist Raphael Weinroth-Browne, who could not attend the show since Canadian restrictions regarding Covid-19 make it impossible for him to be there. However, he pre-recorded his cello parts, so we could still enjoy the dramatic component that his input provides to the already intense and vibrant Leprous sound.
Having seen Leprous live only once, I was surprised by their level of interaction, mainly through vocalist/keyboardist Einar Solberg. After each track, he would provide valuable insight about what they just played. For instance, he explained how “Running Low” started as a simple idea that he recorded using a keyboard app on his cellphone. He also talked about how “The Silent Revelation” evolved from a song composed during the recording sessions of “Malina”. However, they couldn’t find a suitable place for it since, in the words of their sound engineer, it was not good enough until they finally rework it. So now we have the chance to enjoy such track.
In general, Einar was very communicative, making sassy comments that contrasted with the rawness of the songs. It looked like he and the band missed real audiences, equal to or as much as those on the other side of the screen have missed live music. In the end, that’s the magic behind live concerts. The audience and artists come together for two hours to create and experience cathartic moments. Luckily, the band and those present were able to experience such delight.
Although Aphelion contains impressive songs, “Nighttime Disguise” really stands out. It is a clear example of Leprous‘ will to constantly seek new ways of doing things in their continually evolving path. For such track, they did something without precedents. Several fans got to see them in real-time through the internet as they were composing it. They even participate in some decisions made and the direction it turned out to have. It ends the album in an impressive and trembling manner, so it had the same effect on the live-stream. Throughout the event, the emotions were on the rise and culminated overwhelmingly with “Nighttime Disguise”. Although it has intimate and subtle parts, it does not take long to explode and deliver one of Leprous‘ heaviest, most vibrant, and pungent moments.
With their latest streaming event, Leprous demonstrate how well they have mastered the possibilities that live-streaming offers. Although their numerous virtual events have helped fans through these moments, hopefully, they won’t have to recur to them next year, since fans and Leprous belong to festivals and venues across the world, where we can live enthralling experiences in conjunction.
“Aphelion” Preview Livestream setlist:
Running Low / Out Of Her / Silhouette / All The Moments / Have You Ever? / The Silent Revelation / The Shadow Side / On Hold / Castaway Angels / Nighttime Disguise