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Be'lakor – Vessels Award winner

by Erika Kuenstler at 01 August 2016, 6:01 PM

2016 is shaping up to be the year when several much anticipated albums finally see the light of day. Not least among these is the fourth full length album, entitled “Vessels” from Australian Melodic Death Metallers BE'LAKOR, four years after the unveiling of its predecessor. Picking off where “Of Breath and Bone” left off, “Vessels” stays true to the path that BE'LAKOR have been following for years, whilst still managing to explore new ideas and soundscapes.

“Luma” comes creeping in out of the void, slithering in on serpentine scales, with an almost Progressive Rock atmosphere to it. Barring intro “Luma” and instrumental song “A Thread Dissolves”, none of the songs on this album are much shorter than seven minutes apiece, giving BE'LAKOR plenty of room to get creative, which they take full advantage of. When “An Ember's Arc” sets in, we are strongly reminded of the band's earlier music, as subtle acoustic passages and ambient melodies ebb and flow around the harsher parts, giving us an ocean of textures and sound to explore. “Withering Sands” is a highlight of the album, with catchy melodies chasing ethereal dreams. “Roots to Sever” on the other hand takes on a more manic tone, with frantic guitars driving the other instruments into a furious maelstrom. Then the eye of the storm hits half way through the song, giving way to the melancholic destruction left in it's wake. “Whelm” is another monstrous creation that lulls the listener with acoustic introduction before burying you in a drum-led assault, courtesy of new drummer Elliot Sansom. After this onslaught, a much needed instrumental break in the form of “A Thread Dissolves” gives us a chance to breath again before being swept away by the remaining songs. Penultimately, we find “Grasping Light”, a song that ingrains itself in your mind for days to come, before we finally have “The Smoke of Many Fires”, which ends the album on an unforgettable high. Starting off with a slower pace, the song gradually begins to blossom into before finally subsiding into an acoustic outro, leaving the pensive listener to reflect on the myriad little intricacies that have marked all that has come before.

The expansive and meandering path that “Vessels” takes through the ether visits soundscapes from swaying dreamlike-trances to full on assaults that make you feel like you've been dropped into the trenches. The bass forms the strong spine around which the other instruments flock. Dark, melancholic, and broody at times, bombastic and fiery in others, and intricately delicate in other parts, “Vessels” seamlessly melds together a whole melange of musical elements and tempo variations into a smooth and cohesive whole. What I love about this is that each time you listen to the album, you discover hidden facets you missed the first few times round. However, one of the downsides to this is that there's always so much going on that few moments truly stand out on their own merit, and rather become lost in the deluge of sound. This is a pity, as BE'LAKOR have proven themselves capable of some stunning moments in the past, and their formidable musical skills have done nothing but increase over the years. The production of the album could also have been better: a sharper and more distinct sound could really have brought all the little intricacies to life and made them more vivid.

With “Vessels” BE'LAKOR have shattered the confines of Melodic Death Metal, using their music to transform the boundaries of Metal as a whole. Definitely one to check out, and undoubtedly an album which will feature on many "Best of 2016" lists at the end of the year.

Production: 7
Songwriting: 7
Originality: 8


4 Star Rating

1. Luma
2. An Ember's Arc
3. Withering Strands
4. Roots to Sever
5. Whelm
6. A Thread Dissolves
7. Grasping Light
8. The Smoke of Many Fires
George Kosmas - Guitar & Vocals
Shaun Sykes - Lead Guitar
John Richardson - Bass
Steve Merry - Piano & Keyboard
Elliot Sansom - Drums
Record Label: Napalm Records


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Edited 01 April 2023

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