Australia’s growth and importance to the global heavy metal scene has really blossomed in recent years, with the country producing a legion of truly inspiring and incredible bands. Enter BE’LAKOR, a melodic death metal outfit that strives to create an immersive, passionate and moving listening experience. 2016 is the time for BE’LAKOR to truly become a force in the style, with a deal with Napalm Records meaning more exposure, the pressure is on for the band’s fourth studio offering, Vessels. Does this new offering from BE’LAKOR continue the band’s expansion or does it buckle under the pressure?
Opening track Luma follows the schematics for most metal albums these days, clocking in at just two minutes, the track serves to build anticipation before unleashing onto what the album truly contains. However, Luma‘s intricate solo guitar play, solemn riffing and almost soft vocal snarls lift the momentum, slowing building the immersion BE’LAKOR strive to create. A fine opening indeed. From there things only become more emotionally draining, in the best way possible of course. An Ember’s Arc features a truly beautiful opening sequence with the acoustic guitar creating an atmosphere of sorrow and meaning before unleashing George Kosmas‘ signature vocal growls. Standing at a colossal 8 minutes, the track ebbs and flows in pace, allowing more of the intricate and subtle musical moments to truly shine, this is the band’s greatest strength and Vessles shows band utilising this technique at it’s very best.
There are moments throughout Vessels that truly move the listener, creating the atmosphere and the experience is so captivating it’s hard to break back into reality. Withering Strands, the longest track on the record, is an emotional roller-coaster. Opening with some truly wonderful guitar playing from Shaun Sykes, the isolated guitar tones are intoxicating in their delivery, snapping your attention to the beautiful melodies whilst backed with a thunderous and consistent rhythm from John Richardson on bass and Elliot Sansom on drums. With a tempo that consistently rises to ferocious speeds then dips to allow the band to highlight the soft melodies, yet again BE’LAKOR effortlessly create a moving atmosphere.
Vessels is a record that is jam-packed full of memorable moments and it’s hard to find moments where the immersion is shattered, that is BE’LAKOR‘s greatest quality; their attraction to creating a truly moving atmosphere, it’s what holds up there with the best in melodic death metal. A fine example of this is the use of Steven Merry‘s keyboard and piano playing across the record, it’s subtle utilisation into the mix truly captures the mood and feeling the band have created. This is most evident on Roots to Sever, that opens with strong notes from the piano before allowing the the band to pummel out strong riffs and mesmerising lead guitar work. With so much going on, it can be straining at times but that’s the beauty of BE’LAKOR, to create a truly emotional draining listening experience.
You get the feeling that there is a world of expectations with Vessels, that the record poised the band for expanding their name to new horizons. When comparing the record to their stellar back catalogue it’s difficult to assess if this is the best record of BE’LAKOR‘s career to date. For those going in for the first time, it may be too much, as this is an expansion of BE’LAKOR‘s existing sound and Vessels is not as accessible as the record that came before, Of Breath and Bone. However, what Vessels offers is a truly mesmerising listening experience, one that takes you on a journey of emotion, one that rises and falls across nearly an hour of truly wonderful melodic death metal. It may not be the strongest record of their career, but make no mistake, Vessels will capture your attention and it’s easy to fall into the atmosphere BE’LAKOR have created with this record. It’s one that will move you and in music, that is no easy feat.
Vessels is set for release on June 24th via Napalm Records.
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