Be’lakor – Of Breath and Bone (Kolony Records)

Monday, 25th March 2013
Rating: 8/10

Suckers for melody, but necessarily all forms of melodic death metal we are, a band like Australia’s Be’lakor apparently has the right idea when piling on the harmonies over the course of their third album, Of Breath and Bone. As much as the album is “seen it all before” melodic death metal (shouldn’t it be “heard it all before?”), Be’lakor ends up favoring and pimping out some awfully mesmeric and Scandinavian-derived guitar lines, a lot of which have the tendency to stick in one’s craw for days. When something like that happens, you know you have a winner on your hands.

The pervasive darkness that oozes from the album’s eight tracks (save for the saccharine opener “Abeyance”) really catches fire on “Fraught,” where a mixture of vintage Katatonia melodies (cue the word “sucker” again) merge with the punchy nature of mid-90’s Dark Tranquillity. Yet Be’lakor doesn’t cop as many Swedish feels as meets the eye, for the grueling “Absit Omen” has a Viking-like attack that would scare Amon Amarth back into their fake vessel.

A break in the action comes in the form of “To Stir the Sea,” a lush acoustic interlude, while “In Parting” employs a horde of sinewy melodies that leads into a swelling tempo that becomes the album’s definitive highlight. Supplemental numbers such as “The Dream and Waking” and album closer “By Moon and Star” show off Be’lakor’s more traditional melodic death metal side, thus creating a sort of forlorn-meets-Gothenburg feel that frankly, more bands would be best advised to try out.

The one thing about quality melodies is that when they’re spot-on, they can pretty much work anywhere. Granted, if they were thrust into rap rock, we’d be a little more hesitant to jump onboard, but in the confines of traditional melodic death metal, Be’lakor strikes a lot of the right chords on Of Breath and Bone.

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