Considering that Leprous’ phenomenal sixth LP, Pitfalls, came out in October 2019, it might seem like an especially quick turnaround for them to return so soon with Aphelion. Yet, the Norwegian symphonic/art rock quintet have always worked at a brisk and dedicated pace; this was especially true over the last year or so, as the global pandemic afforded them extra time to work on their next studio effort since, you know, they really couldn’t do much else. Fortunately, those challenging yet serendipitous circumstances didn’t hurt the quality of the LP, as Aphelion houses some of their greatest moments, further solidifying them as kings of their craft.
Advertisement. Scroll to continue reading.
Naturally, the line-up from Pitfalls returns, as do cellist Raphael Weinroth-Browne (Musk Ox, The Visit), violinist Chris Baum (Bent Knee), and both Adam Noble and Robin Schmidt on mixing and mastering, respectively. Aphelion also marks the first time that Leprous has used a brass group: Norway’s Blåsemafiaen. Like its predecessor, the record deals with mental health struggles both personal and universal. On record, frontman Einar Solberg comments: “Pitfalls was more the first stage of that. . . . Being deep into anxiety and depression felt like a new thing. [Here], I’ve gone much further into how to deal with it and how to gradually get away from it, at least to the point where it’s not dominating your life anymore.”
He also stipulates that the sequence flows more like “a song-by-song album” than Pitfalls, and that it was recorded in several studios—and in several configurations—resulting in perhaps the group’s most “varied” and emblematic LP yet. As for the title, it was originally going to be called Adapt, but it “didn’t sound right,” so Aphelion was chosen to provide a punchier way of expressing the notion of “creating something beautiful from a difficult situation.” Of course, that sentiment has always been integral to Leprous’ work, and in light of the hardships that’ve befallen the entire world recently, it’s acutely relevant.