Pitfalls

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Pitfalls
Pitfalls album.jpg
Art by Elicia Edijanto
Studio album by
Released25 October 2019
RecordedFebruary–July 2019
StudioGhostward Studios
GenreProgressive rock[1]
Length55:10
LabelInside Out Music
Producer
  • David Castillo
  • Einar Solberg
Leprous chronology
Malina
(2017)
Pitfalls
(2019)
Singles from Pitfalls
  1. "Below"
    Released: 30 August 2019
  2. "Alleviate"
    Released: 20 September 2019
  3. "Distant Bells"
    Released: 11 October 2019

Pitfalls is the sixth studio album by Norwegian progressive music band Leprous, released on 25 October 2019 via Inside Out Music and preceded by the singles "Below", "Alleviate", and "Distant Bells". It was recorded over six months at Ghostward Studios and seen as a musical departure for the group. They recruited a cellist, violinist, and classical choir for the production. Most of the songs were written and composed by vocalist Einar Solberg.

A majority of critics approved of the album, bestowing particular esteem on the singing as well as songs "Below", "Observe the Train", "At the Bottom", and "The Sky Is Red". Solberg's creative control was for some a point of contention. Pitfalls charted higher than 2017's Malina in Belgium (Wallonia), Finland, and France. Leprous is promoting it with a European headlining tour.

Production[edit]

Singer Einar Solberg was the principal songwriter, contrary to previous albums.

Leprous recorded the album from February to July 2019 at Ghostward Studios in Stockholm, Sweden with producer David Castillo and mix engineer Adam Noble, who was chosen in pursuit of a different sound.[2][3][4][5] The process differed from before, having no predetermined method or objective.[6] Deriving from a baseline of electronic templates,[6] they added instruments to the initial halves of the songs and then the rest.[4] Thirteen were ultimately made, but only nine could be completed due to time constraints.[6] Vocalist and keyboardist Einar Solberg devoted around eighty days in studio. He intended for each take to be different, that he could avail of his favourites among them.[7] Much of the vocals and some nylon-string guitar were done at Solberg's cabin.[8] He saw Pitfalls as the largest production and musical departure of the band, noting also that every song bears its own musical identity. His lyrics were written in a one-and-a-half-year period of struggle with depression and anxiety, containing "no filters, no metaphors, just the truth".[8][9][10] This marked the first time Solberg was more prolific than guitarist Tor Oddmund Suhrke, who usually serves as the main lyricist.[3] Suhrke did however pen "I Lose Hope", "By My Throne", and "At the Bottom". Cellist Raphael Weinroth-Browne and violinist Chris Baum contributed additional music, receiving MIDI files of their segments prior to recording.[5] Weinroth-Browne divided his time between Canada and Sweden, travelling to Stockholm for the solos and more ambient parts, whereas Baum worked from the United States.[7] Indonesian artist Elicia Edijanto's illustration was not tailored for Pitfalls, but rather purchased after bassist Simen Børven showed her work to Solberg.[2][8][a]

"Below" was the earliest song put in writing, originally assembled with piano and vocals.[11] Its music video was directed by Dariusz Szermanowicz and shot in Wrocław, Poland.[12] "I Lose Hope" was frowned upon in its infancy, but reached new potential in studio, at which point drummer Baard Kolstad and Børven applied a groove reminiscent of hip hop. "Observe the Train" endured the most iterations of the album to achieve its desired outcome. According to Solberg, it is about the mindfulness of one's train of thoughts; the need to "stop fighting and start accepting" despair. Dissatisfied with "Alleviate", he abandoned all but the pop-based chorus chord progression and verse notes that would later be improved through vocal lines.[7][10][13] Troll Toftenes helmed the video for the song, which Solberg observed as one of Leprous' most accessible.[14] Weinroth-Browne inserted harmonic and pizzicato elements to "Alleviate". His solos on "At the Bottom" and "Distant Bells" were improvised.[5] Although mostly an acoustic player, Kolstad used electronic drums on "Below", "At the Bottom", and "Distant Bells".[15] Instrumentation for the latter was composed by Børven, drawing on the idea of creating something out of nothing with influences from his Nordic jazz and symphonic pop background.[16] He employed a grand piano at the start to maintain intensity despite the low dynamics.[17] Suhrke did the preliminary sketch;[5] Solberg brought about the melodies, vocal lines, lyrics, and some arrangements.[13] There was doubt about whether to incorporate "Foreigner", but they discovered it worked well as a passage between "Distant Bells" and the finale.[6] A classical choir in Belgrade, Serbia was booked for "The Sky Is Red".[4][5] The full piece contains hundreds of sound layers. It was almost entirely written and composed in an hour and a half, when Solberg was immersed in a flow state.[7][15]

Promotion[edit]

The singles "Below", "Alleviate", and "Distant Bells" debuted on 30 August, 20 September, and 11 October, respectively.[14][16][18] Pitfalls was released on 25 October 2019 as a limited mediabook CD with two bonus tracks, jewelcase CD, 2LP vinyl record including the CD, and on digital streaming platforms. Leprous began a European headlining tour in November featuring The Ocean and Port Noir.[2][9] Weinroth-Browne is also touring with them.[6] The set list changes regularly, as is tradition.[10]

Reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
SourceRating
Blabbermouth.net8.5/10[19]
Blezt4.5/5 stars[20]
Sonic Perspectives9.4/10[21]
Sputnikmusic4/5[22]
ViaOmega9.5/10[5]

Dom Lawson, reviewing for Blabbermouth.net, beheld "Below" as evocative of "grateful tears", termed "Observe the Train" an "elegant" chamber pop waltz, and gave thanks to "The Sky Is Red" for its "feverish prog worship", "conviction and class".[19] To Mathias Bergfjord at Blezt, the album amounted to a masterpiece of melancholic and catchy tunes, explaining that "Below" possesses all the traits that made it one of Leprous' best. He complimented the melodies on "Observe the Train" as gorgeous, the first half of "Alleviate" as seductive, and "Foreigner" as hard-hitting.[20] Scott Medina at Sonic Perspectives declared Pitfalls to be "exquisite", taking note of Solberg's "angelic falsetto highs and powerful lower delivery". Medina praised "I Lose Hope" and "Observe the Train" for their catchy choruses and effective arrangements, thought "At the Bottom" offered thrilling dynamics, and lauded Leprous for displaying their full range on "The Sky Is Red", which he dubbed a "brilliantly enigmatic" closer.[21] Sputnikmusic believed that the introduction of pop, dance, and electronic music successfully resulted in "something new and refreshing".[22] Writing for ViaOmega, Uta Arnold agreed with Medina on what she thought was an "outstanding vocal performance". Commending Kolstad's drum work, she especially liked his "soft and cautious" demeanor in the slower songs. Arnold found that the downhearted parts were flawlessly expressed by the cello sounds of Weinroth-Browne. "I Lose Hope" was her favourite song, deeming it "the most enthralling", while also describing "At the Bottom" and "Foreigner" as "electrifying".[5] Metal Storm designated the final minutes of "At the Bottom" as the highlight of the album, appreciated the choruses on "Alleviate", and favoured "The Sky Is Red" for its rhythmic complexity, technical virtuosity, and "captivating" hooks.[23] Tuonela Magazine's David Araneda likened the opening track to a James Bond score when alluding to the string section, which was said to complement the "warmth" of Solberg's voice. "Observe the Train" was viewed as a calming interval that boasted intriguing vocal harmonies and would lead into an "injection of energy" with "By My Throne". Araneda echoed the sentiments on "The Sky Is Red".[24] Fraser Lewry of Louder Sound opined, "Pitfalls packs such an emotional wallop you almost fear for the health of its instigator, but it also feels joyous. The arrangements are sublime, the performances infallible. It’s an album of craft, and ambition, and absolute fearlessness".[25]

Conversely, Sputnikmusic levied the main criticism on Solberg's dominant role and, given this aspect, remarked that it could have been his solo album.[22] Metal Storm decried the pervading presence of vocals for relegating guitars and drums to the background, writing that "not enough of the material on Pitfalls offers up an emotionally resonant experience at the level of past work".[23]

Track listing[edit]

All lyrics are written by Einar Solberg, except where noted; all music is composed by Solberg, except where noted.

No.TitleLyricsMusicLength
1."Below"  5:53
2."I Lose Hope"Tor Oddmund Suhrke 4:44
3."Observe the Train"  5:08
4."By My Throne"Suhrke 5:45
5."Alleviate"  3:42
6."At the Bottom"Suhrke 7:21
7."Distant Bells" 
  • Simen Børven
  • Solberg
7:23
8."Foreigner"  3:52
9."The Sky Is Red"  11:22
Total length:55:10
Bonus tracks[b]
No.TitleLyricsMusicLength
10."Golden Prayers"Suhrke 4:28
11."Angel"Massive AttackMassive Attack6:27
Total length:66:05

Personnel[edit]

Leprous[edit]

  • Einar Solberg – vocals, keyboards, production[28]
  • Tor Oddmund Suhrke – guitars
  • Robin Ognedal – guitars
  • Simen Daniel Lindstad Børven – bass
  • Baard Kolstad – drums

Additional musicians[edit]

  • Raphael Weinroth-Browne – cello
  • Chris Baum – violin

Production and design[edit]

  • David Castillo – recording,[28] production
  • Adam Noble – mixing
  • Robin Schmidt – mastering[28]
  • Elicia Edijanto – cover artwork

Charts[edit]

Pitfalls performed better than its predecessor Malina (2017) in the Wallonia region of Belgium,[29][30] Finland,[31][32] and France.[33][34]

Album chart (2019) Peak
Austria (Ö3 Austria)[35] 61
Belgium (Ultratop Wallonia)[29] 82
Finland (Suomen virallinen lista)[31] 17
France (SNEP)[33] 120
Germany (Offizielle Top 100)[36] 36
Italy (FIMI)[37] 98
Spain (PROMUSICAE)[38] 62
Switzerland (Schweizer Hitparade)[39] 46

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Solberg has interpreted the Buddha figure as representing mindfulness and flute player as thoughts in a person's consciousness.[8]
  2. ^ "Golden Prayers" was first released in June 2018;[26] "Angel" followed in January 2019.[27]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Leprous". Napalm Records. Archived from the original on 30 September 2019.
  2. ^ a b c Munro, Scott (27 August 2019). "Leprous return with new studio album Pitfalls". Louder Sound. Archived from the original on 28 August 2019.
  3. ^ a b "Interview with Leprous". Tuonela Magazine. Archived from the original on 27 September 2019.
  4. ^ a b c LEPROUS – Discuss "Pitfalls". Inside Out Music. 10 September 2019.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g Arnold, Uta (1 October 2019). "Leprous Review". ViaOmega. Archived from the original on 13 October 2019.
  6. ^ a b c d e Vila, Albert (22 October 2019). "Entrevista a Einar Solberg, vocalista de Leprous". Science of Noise (in Spanish and English). Archived from the original on 22 October 2019.
  7. ^ a b c d Gricourt, Nicolas (25 October 2019). "Leprous ne se laisse pas piéger". Radio Metal (in French). Archived from the original on 27 October 2019.
  8. ^ a b c d Schmidt, Olaf (30 October 2019). ""Ich habe keine Angst mehr vor der Angst"". Laut (in German). Archived from the original on 31 October 2019.
  9. ^ a b "LEPROUS To Release 'Pitfalls' Album in October". Blabbermouth.net. 27 August 2019. Archived from the original on 28 August 2019.
  10. ^ a b c "Einar Solberg (Leprous) Interview – Pitfalls". The Prog Report. 10 October 2019.
  11. ^ Munro, Scott (30 August 2019). "Watch Leprous in video for sprawling new track Below". Louder Sound. Archived from the original on 30 August 2019.
  12. ^ "LEPROUS Releases Music Video For New Single 'Below'". Blabbermouth.net. 30 August 2019. Archived from the original on 30 August 2019.
  13. ^ a b Arnold, Uta (11 October 2019). "Leprous Interview". ViaOmega. Archived from the original on 24 October 2019.
  14. ^ a b Munro, Scott (20 September 2019). "Leprous release video for "controversial" new single Alleviate". Louder Sound. Archived from the original on 20 September 2019.
  15. ^ a b Altaf, Rodrigo (21 October 2019). "LEPROUS Front-man EINAR SOLBERG Talks "Pitfalls" Album Direction: "We Still Have a Lot Of Guitars On It, We're Just Using Them In a Different Way"". Sonic Perspectives. Archived from the original on 21 October 2019.
  16. ^ a b Munro, Scott (11 October 2019). "Leprous release mournful new single Distant Bells". Louder Sound. Archived from the original on 11 October 2019.
  17. ^ LEPROUS – Distant Bells (Track By Track). Inside Out Music. 14 October 2019.
  18. ^ Leprous [@leprousband] (30 August 2019). "Watch the video for our new single 'BELOW'" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  19. ^ a b Lawson, Dom. "Pitfalls Leprous". Blabbermouth.net. Archived from the original on 26 October 2019.
  20. ^ a b Bergfjord, Mathias (23 October 2019). "Leprous «Pitfalls»". Blezt (in Norwegian). Archived from the original on 31 October 2019.
  21. ^ a b Medina, Scott (1 October 2019). "Leprous – Pitfalls (Album Review)". Sonic Perspectives. Archived from the original on 12 October 2019.
  22. ^ a b c "Review: Leprous - Pitfalls". Sputnikmusic. 23 October 2019. Archived from the original on 24 October 2019.
  23. ^ a b "Leprous – Pitfalls review". Metal Storm. Archived from the original on 15 October 2019.
  24. ^ Araneda, David. "REVIEW: Leprous – Pitfalls". Tuonela Magazine. Archived from the original on 24 October 2019.
  25. ^ Lewry, Fraser (25 October 2019). "Leprous - Pitfalls album review". Louder Sound. Archived from the original on 26 October 2019.
  26. ^ Everley, Dave (4 June 2018). "Leprous release brand new single Golden Prayers". Louder Sound. Archived from the original on 27 October 2019.
  27. ^ Rosenberg, Axl (25 January 2019). "Listen to Leprous Cover Massive Attack's "Angel"". MetalSucks. Archived from the original on 27 October 2019.
  28. ^ a b c Pitfalls (Media notes). Inside Out Music. 25 October 2019.
  29. ^ a b "Leprous - Pitfalls". Ultratop (in French). Archived from the original on 1 November 2019.
  30. ^ "Leprous - Malina". Ultratop (in French). Archived from the original on 2 November 2019.
  31. ^ a b "Leprous Pitfalls". Musiikkituottajat (in Finnish). Archived from the original on 3 November 2019.
  32. ^ "Leprous Malina". Musiikkituottajat (in Finnish). Archived from the original on 3 November 2019.
  33. ^ a b "Le Top de la semaine : Top Albums". Syndicat National de l'Édition Phonographique (in French). Archived from the original on 4 November 2019.
  34. ^ "Le Top de la semaine : Top Albums". Syndicat National de l'Édition Phonographique (in French). Archived from the original on 4 November 2019.
  35. ^ "Leprous - Pitfalls". Hung Medien (in German). Archived from the original on 7 November 2019.
  36. ^ "Leprous". GfK Entertainment charts (in German). Archived from the original on 1 November 2019.
  37. ^ "Leprous - Pitfalls (Album)". Hung Medien. Archived from the original on 6 November 2019.
  38. ^ "Semana 44: del 25.10.2019 al 31.10.2019" (in Spanish). Productores de Música de España: 2. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  39. ^ "Leprous – Pitfalls". Swiss Hitparade (in German). Archived from the original on 6 November 2019.