Be’lakor – Vessels (Napalm)

Friday, 10th June 2016
Rating: 8.5/10

One of the best moves Napalm Records has made in a long time (we’ll give them a free pass on Coal Chamber), the signing of Australian melodic death metal force Be’lakor is demonstrative that the chorus of underground fervor cannot be ignored. The melodic death metal subgenre has rebuilt itself in the wake of the odd turns made by In Flames and the over-saturation brought forth by metalcore. In this rebuilding effort has come a sea of highly-reputable outfits, many of whom adhere to the style’s primary tenets while making a concerted effort to go forth unhindered by sound restrictions. As you would imagine, Be’lakor are the leaders of this pack.

The band’s fourth album and first in as many years, Vessels, goes further out on the ledge explored on Of Breath and Bone. Employing a progressive model where deep, intricate arrangements are the norm, Be’lakor never loses sight of the prize, for lack of a better term, remaining high and tight around its engrossing melodic current. It’s best exemplified on “An Ember’s Arc,” the album’s first proper, and subsequent, best track. Guided by a bevy of melancholic acoustic guitars, sinewy melodies, and mid-song climaxes and breaks, “An Ember’s Arc” is simply a brilliant number. From there, the Aussies work in knifing twin-guitar harmonies on “Withering Strands,” pendulum-like dynamics on “Whelm” (the segue from all-out extremity to graceful avenues is marvelous), and towering guitar action on “Grasping Light.”

Further devoid of many of the trappings that befall lesser bands (i.e. clean vocals, riff similarities), Vessels hits at the right time for Be’lakor. They’re everything right about melodic death metal, which in this day and age, is more than enough currency to blow by whatever the pack is doing. Vessels is simply masterful.

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