Grooving through the progressive way back in 2003, BEHOLDER are back with their third album, Reflections.
Unwavering intro blooms to life under the tink of symbols and some captivating drum beats begin. The vocals are rich and compliment the trippy, complex and yet ever so easy to listen to combination of bass and guitar. The sounds here are low and ever so wired, making for some truly heavy yet every so richly melodic song writing. Somewhere between Bruce Dickenson and Corey Taylor in terms of vocals, those looking for something classical and yet very much of the now won’t be disappointed.
I.Machine begins with a solid riffs that pull you in immediately. Some well worded lyrics and brutal catchiness, similar to some of MASTODON’S early work makes this a very enjoyable song. This is easily a track to express just how good this band are. Encompassing everything right about Prog and Metal, balancing between the complex and the heavy with precision and masterful precision. The ending of the song, without spoiling the toned down subtly, is a delight. However, that serenity is not long lived, as Heal The Wounds races up with devilishly brutal basslines that carry the riff phenomenally well. This is the bands third album, but with such a long career behind them, it’s been worth the wait for such a fully realised expression of music. Rising and falling between the beautiful riffs and the beat of the drum with such craftsmanship that all meld so well with the vocals. Every element of this song moves in such a way that you can’t help but admire the quality of the work, and be slightly envious of their talents.
It can often be the trap of more Progressive Metal to fall too far into either genre, yet as demonstrated in Host, the line can be perfectly balanced here. Never too systematic that it becomes repetitive, yet never so overly complex as to lose the true meaning of the music under the convolutedness, it is clear that BEHOLDER have true mastery over what they wanted out of this album.
Shifting forward, the churning, visceral lyrics along with vigorous beats and heavy melody, Dance Macabre is a tune to fill you with aggression and malice. Simon Hall’s voice is the perfect balance of harmonious and gravel, the right kind of bite mixed with great strength in his lyrics. The same can be said of all the members of the band in their own right, with the push and pull of the hard and heavy being balanced with the requirements of the song. Each element of the track feels thought out, and realised to its fullest potential by all members. The payoff here is fantastic, and makes Reflections an ever more interesting album to listen to. Breath in the Silence has a cracking opener, taking it’s time to build. Always changing, moving from more classically Metal to more Progressive in its feel, this is a track with a story to lose yourself to in both its words and the feeling of the sound.
Equally, Killing Time draws back and allows its melodies and it’ beats room to move, and time in itself to open up into something more reserved, yet no less dark and intention filled than the rest of the album. Finding new ways to display a message through music without falling on repetition is impressive, not to mention enjoyable on its own merit. This is how you know an album is worth fully listening to- no track from BEHOLDER feels like filler, each song is a piece of crafted music given just as much attention as each other song.
As we draw to the end of this this heavy, churning journey, Army of One has to be one of the strongest tracks on this album. The riffs are fantastic, the crashing, sizzling drums that mix the traditional elements of Metal with that newer feeling BEHOLDER do so well. As well as carrying some powerful lyrics, it will be a sight to see this performed live, and to see the weight of this music carried to an audience. As with much of this album, the focus is on disillusionment with society, a theme often focused on with Metal, and this record carries that to great effect.
The penultimate track My Revolution carries on in the same fashion as the rest of the album, with some truly enjoyable moments early on, then drawing up in the huge vocals and the substantial momentum of the music to drive forward the song. The song itself comprises of so many sections, getting faster and harder, then sinking back, then throwing you back into the thick of it; you couldn’t ever be bored listening to this.
And finally, to place the cherry on top of this mammoth album, the music suddenly becomes more harmonious, more at channelled, allowing the more melancholy feelings to seep through the aggression. Don’t be fooled, that aggression is still there in Speak To Me, but the melody finally gets the better of the band here, and is at the perfect moment. After such intense complexities, this is the sweet end to the album.
For those looking for an anthem to drape over themselves, an album bursting with intention and coupled with some striking moments, Reflections is the record for you. This is a meaty, weighty album with a band that tick all the boxes, and it would be a crying shame if you missed out on BEHOLDER’s huge talent and gripping melodies.
Reflections is out April 12th via Razorline Music
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