For those whom know me and/or follow the site you’ll know that I’m quite a big fan of the genre that is ‘melodic death metal’. There are a whole host of bands in this genre but one band that has always stood out for me is Be’lakor. The Australians formed in 2004 but it was their 2009 release Stone’s Reach which ‘launched’ them per se.
Since that release they’ve put out another album, Of Breath and Bone (2012), and toured across Europe and their native continent of Australia. I personally regard Of Breath and Bone as one of the finest albums from that year and as such I was rather excited to give this, their latest effort, a listen.
Something I immediately noticed is that that mix is really good. Everything is clear-cut in the mix and has it’s own place. Nothing is drowned out by something else, everything just sits neatly in it’s own little place.
Opening up the album is the track “Luma”. A mid-paced affair with driving guitars along with melodic counter-melodies placed here and there, it suitably warmed me up for the rest of the album and further reinforced my love for this band and genre.
“An Ember’s Arc” opens with acoustic guitars before bringing in both the bass and drums in a semi-syncopated pattern. The calm continues up until the 0:59 mark when everything else comes in in a rather collected manner as if they had always been there. As the song progresses, some superb guitar playing is showcased in the form of multiple harmonies and solos dotted here and there. An area of particular note is the section around the 5:03 mark. It’s similar to the previous sections in the song but it has the additional guitar in there that makes it just that bit special.
Having a slightly darker feel to it’s opening is the track “Withering Strands”. Being the longest track on the album means it goes through numerous changes, yet none of those changes really deviate from the original themes explored in the beginning. As the track draws to an end, it expertly weaves itself into the next track “Roots to Sever”. Opening with a piano based melody, the rest of the band comes in, not like a ton of bricks, but rather gently and melodically. Whilst this may be considered to be non-conformist to the metal style, it does however make melodic sense. Which is what is vital in this genre.
“Whelm” opens with a rather creative clean guitar melody before the rest of the instruments come in and add their various melodies. Around the 3:46 mark, dual acoustic guitars enter the fold with some rather superb melodies. These make for a nice interlude before the other instruments return to bring the song to a close. The same could technically be said of “A Thread Dissolves”. Being the instrumental track on the album allows some room for the other musicians to get a bit more creative with their playing. And the results are quite amazing…
Opening with a few tom hits is the track, “Grasping Light”. This track in particular has some rather interesting riffs and melodies dotted here and there, but the thing that really struck me was how the band flow each section into each other. Sure, they do it on other tracks just as well, but on this one everything just seemed to expertly line up. For that reason, it’s one of my standout tracks.
“The Smoke of Many Fires” brings to close this rather sublime yet intriguing album. As with “Withering Strands” the song weaves here and there with it’s multiple section changes, only this time they are more pronounced and expressive. Ending with a fade out of the main music, the album ends as it started, in a rather refined and dignified manner.
In comparison with their earlier efforts, I have to say that Vessels is definitely a step up. They’ve really upped the antae with this album and created a masterpiece that is both a joy to listen to, and refined enough that you can sit back with a glass of red wine in your arm chair and dream the night away…
Standout Tracks: An Embers Arc, Roots To Sever, Grasping Light