Review Summary: If you call yourself a fan of bands like Kalmah, Amon Amarth, Dark Tranquillity or Amorphis, then this release could be a welcome surprise for you
Australia can produce some really fantastic heavy metal bands. Virgin Black, Ne Obliviscaris and now, Be'Lakor
. Finally we have a melodic death metal band that can not only make great music, but make an identity and a sound of their own. Maybe it's the Australian touch that gives them the individuality, or maybe they have just got lucky and found a sound that they can make their own, either way, the music here is pretty much unique from all the rest of death metal out today.
If you call yourself a fan of bands like Kalmah
, Amon Amarth
, Dark Tranquillity
, then this release could be a welcome surprise for you. Primarily, this band has elements from all these bands together, but they still have so much more, catchy riffs, melodic twin guitar solos, haunting keyboard work and deep, powerful growls from the singer (who has a very similar style to that of Amon Amarth). Upon listening to some of the riffs, and dual guitar melodies, a hundred influences can be sited, from Iron Maiden
to early In Flames
, this band do this style of guitar play flawlessly, every note being memorable, catchy and powerful, while the keyboards provide a dark, organic canvas for the band to play with. Some tracks even have Opeth style acoustic interludes, without any clean vocals of course, but they are there and beautiful all the same. You even get treated to some nice flute work towards the end of probably the most diverse track, "A Natural Apostasy".
The album starts off memorably, no unnecessary intro, no cheesy roar followed by a wall of noise, instead, they start with a fantastic melodic riff (sounding somewhat like a more relaxed Kalmah), setting the tone for the rest of the song, and speeding up shortly. It's not until the deep vocals get introduced that the keyboards make their appearance, and already early on in the album, Be'Lakor
have created a stunning atmosphere. Dark, vivid, haunting, but most of all, beautiful
. Be'lakor may still be a very young band age and experience wise, yet on The Frail Tide, they have shown a maturity and a passion few bands challenge. Avoiding all the modern trends and influences of recent death metal, they have made an atmospheric album that rivals the genre's greats, which is no small feat considering that this is a debut from a young band.
The band show a mature sincerity with their songwriting, and their lyrics. I don't usually expect good lyrics from heavy metal bands, least of all a death metal band, but there is something about what they have written which strikes a chord in me, take for example, the opener 'Neither Shape Nor Shadow'.
Once submerged they may awaken
Briefly grasping moonlit skies
But a crescent moon accompaniment
Merely ushers in the tide
There are no lyrics about blood and gore, no cheesy love songs, definitely no politics. Just honest, creative tales of nature, glory, and in one track, Ares, the Greek god of war. The songs are all reasonably long, and each one has just enough going on in them to keep the listener interested without confusing them, the arrangements throughout each song are grand, epic and beautiful, forming a vivid artistic atmosphere that caresses your ears with an aura of majestic power, and I'm not over exaggerating one bit there. Rarely does a band manage to blend beauty and aggression so wonderfully, Be'Lakor
show up most other established acts in that sense.
As you have already seen, I think Be'Lakor
are world-class, better than most in the genre at the moment. There is no reason that a big label shouldn't pick them up straight away. The only reasons I can think of that they are still unsigned is because of their location, or because they don't really fit in with any trends at the moment. Having a more classic, unique sound might scare some other labels off, but I pray it doesn't because I think The Frail Tide is an amazing album, and I can't wait to hear what their next one is going to be like. Having a label support them could only be for the good, as the production on this album, while still very good, is a bit fuzzy. Fortunately, it suits the atmosphere that is in their sound, but more clarity wouldn't go amiss at parts. That is probably one of my very, very
few complaints for this album, but it shouldn't deter anyone from listening.
This is such a... for lack of a better word, complete, release that it stuns me to find that this band haven't already been snapped up by one of the bigger labels. They quite literally have it all; individuality, flair, creativity and some damn good musicians. They are going to go places, and you can quote me on that.