I’ll admit that I’m a relative newcomer to Be’lakor. “Of Breath And Bone” was my first foray into the band, and while I heard certain aspects of their sound that I very much appreciated, it didn’t entice me as much as I was hoping, especially with the hype the album received upon it’s release. So while I was hoping for them to build on their promising sound, I wasn’t sure I could anticipate what their newest release would sound like. Well, I feel safe in saying that with the new album “Vessels”, the band have taken major strides in upping the creative ante and publishing a masterful classic for the metal masses to dig into and feast on.
For fans of the last album, they will be happy to know that the band have built on that sound and have gone to the next level. And for those wondering what this Australian band sounds like? Walking the line between an emotional melancholy and a superbly driven death metal backdrop, the five members give us a memorable concoction of melodic death with serious progressive leanings. It’s a very engaging and attention-grabbing sound. Many bands have strived to meld those styles together perfectly. On paper it sounds like a perfect marriage, but while many bands have attempted this fusion and failed, Be’lakor have done this idea justice. And the atmospheric and mesmerizing qualities of their sound give the music so much warmth and ambiance. Imagine Katatonia going back to their harder roots and giving the music a good dose of prog, and you might have a decent sense of where Be’Lakor lies aurally.
Song structure and delivery are paid attention to in the eight songs presented on this album with such detail that the band must have really given their all to put this project together. Starting from the emotive mid-paced delivery in the quick opener “Luma”, we’re set up for a glimpse into what lies ahead. “An Ember’s Arc” follows with a beautiful acoustic layered opening which helps start the journey of weaving atmosphere and depth with a perfectly placed death sensibility that doesn’t sound overdone or too dominant with regard to the overall sound. “Withering Strands” delves into very nice guitar riffs that duel with equally well-placed guitar harmonies, giving the song a real momentum and drive. Clean vocal harmonies and piano help project the sound in new directions near the end of this epic track, while closing out with a somewhat frantic drum and guitar expression. This is the longest song on the album at just over eleven minutes in length, but the time flies by. This is easily my favourite song on the album, but that’s not to say there isn’t more to dig into after this triumphant track. “Roots To Sever” follows as well assembled as the previous track, but more lush and low-key in certain areas of the song, providing a nice contrast in sound. Keeping the pace going with “Whelm”, “A Thread Dissolves” gives the listener a quick stop-gap on the continuing journey, and while short, the mid-paced structure and ambient sounds help uphold the interest in the product. “Grasping Light” provided something interesting for me as the drums drew me in right away as they can go from helping propel the pace of the song to offering a driven double-bass kick that switches things up. And with the album closer “The Smoke Of Many Fires”, we’re given a perfect blueprint of how to end this epic album, showcasing all the great moments of “Vessels” as a whole, not to mention the seamless tempo changes that are a major component of their overall sound.
One of the most impressive elements of their sound is the fact that all the instruments and vocals are on equal footing here. They all team together to make a magical sound. Too often I find with bands like this that while there is cohesion in sound, usually one instrument (most often the guitar) is given more of a lead role. In this case, everything is placed perfectly with the main goal of having a complete song being the main selling point of the band’s sound.
In conclusion, if this album doesn’t grab you and envelop you at first listen, it definitely will with repeated listens as there’s always new areas to discover and investigate. The band takes a great concept and runs with it, leaving us with many lasting impressions and giving us the unenviable task of wondering how they will ever top this gorgeous album with future releases.
02. An Ember’s Arc
03. Withering Strands
04. Roots To Sever
06. A Thread Dissolves
07. Grasping Light
08. The Smoke Of Many Fires
Playing time: 56:39
Release date: 24 June, 2016
Label: Napalm Records
Website: Be’lakor Official Website