Tall Poppy Syndrome

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Many progressive metal bands operate with a staunchly pre-'90s mentality. Showing no interest in alternative rock and alternative metal, they get all of their inspiration from power metal and progressive rock bands of the '70s and '80s; typically, the recipe for such bands is Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, and/or Queensr├┐che by way of Pink Floyd, Yes, ELP, and/or King Crimson. But Tall Poppy Syndrome points to the fact that Norway's Leprous is among the progressive metal bands that is quite relevant to alternative metal and alternative rock. Tall Poppy Syndrome doesn't have a strong power metal influence; instead, this 2009 release combines classic-'70s prog inspirations like Pink Floyd and King Crimson with alternative influences (including Tool and Mr. Bungle) and has some death metal/black metal moves as well. Although most of the lead vocals on this 63-minute CD are clean vocals, Tall Poppy Syndrome occasionally offers some "Cookie Monster" growls of the death metal variety and some harsh rasps of the black metal variety. Opeth's melodic death metal is a positive influence on parts of the album, and the word "melodic" is clearly applicable on Tall Poppy Syndrome. This disc has its abrasive moments, but overall, Leprous' work is quite melodic -- and it is clear that craftsmanship, intricacy, and nuance are high priorities for them. Unfortunately, albums as ambitious as Tall Poppy Syndrome don't always live up to their potential; there have been plenty of albums that had the best of intentions but simply didn't work out in the end. However, all of the pieces come together nicely for Leprous on the risk-taking but pleasingly consistent Tall Poppy Syndrome.

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