Prime Cuts Music – 2009 – Australia
Who ever thought melodic death metal could manage to sound progressive, doomy, and gothic all at once?
It’s the Australian quintet Be’lakor who introduce our ears to the phenomenon with this sprawling sophomore album of theirs. It may be a bit over-the-top at times with its excessive symphonic ambience and lengthy stretches of contemplative guitar play, yet “Stone’s Reach” has enough charm to win over frosty hearts across the globe. Besides, the sheer variety of the musical chimera the band have created exerts this strange power over the curious listener. Judging by its forebodding cover art, obviously a neo classical sculpture done in the Renaissance, Be’lakor give no clues identifying which corner of the extreme metal galaxy they belong to, yet the wonders they unleash are breathtaking.
Beginning with a short instrumental that may put off those expecting a more visceral aural treat, Be’lakor enter their cushy zone on the hypnotic “Venator” where guitarist and frontman George Kosmas begins to enunciate his indiscernible lyrics with his gruff throat utterings. Eschewing the blastbeats and spidery guitars that have long been a mainstay of the death metal chameleon, Be’lakor willingly dip into the melodic stuff for the endless prog metal salvoes used throughout this plus sized tracklist they’ve created. So don’t be fooled by the mere seven songs on “Stone’s Reach” because there’s enough music here to fill three less ambitious albums.
Though taxing on the nerves on occasion, those lucky enough to ‘get it’ may suffer from spells of vertigo as the more complex songs here unravel, namely “From Scythe to Scepter” and “Sun’s Delsion.” Bearing the occasional semblance to their Swedish influences, Be’lakor( who have actualy signed to a European label)shun the fusion tactics of Opeth for Dark Tranquility’s brooding majesty. Yet there’s more to these guys than meets the ear. The alert listener will also notice drone ambience, sudden stretches of frantic decibels, black metal moods, and honest to goodness heavyness amidst the melodic dross.
If the thousand hidden deligths woven into the fabric of “Stone’s Reach” still puts you to sleep however, then Be’lakor aren’t among your precious musical finds this year.