Be'lakor
Vessels


4.5
superb

Review

by Kyle Ward EMERITUS
June 21st, 2016 | 427 replies


Release Date: 2016 | Tracklist

Review Summary: What melodic death metal strives to be

There is a certain level of skill required to write a melodic death metal record that is actually good. One could take the low-effort approach and let a mediocre vocalist scream perpetually over a few fruity death metal riffs, but that’s not doing anyone any good aside from those looking for something to blast loudly in their car at a stoplight. When done right, melodic death metal is a genre of synchronicity and movement; a balance of the heaviness of death metal with a broader range of more potent moods than unhinged rage or sheer maniacal depravity. It is a game of finesse that Be’lakor have shown themselves to be quite adept at. I won’t begin to delve into the reasons why their 2012 record Of Breath and Bone was a relative disappoint despite its adherence to this Australian act’s distinctive “flavor” of melodic death, but what I can say is that Vessels is more in line with the vision and execution of Stone’s Reach.

With a distinct progressive touch, Vessels is constantly pressing onwards, never once falling back into the cyclical motion that captures lesser melodic death metal records and ultimately ruins them. Part of the beauty of Vessels and Be’lakor in general is the shedding of pure death metal heaviness in favor of an airy, massive atmosphere that allows the crushing drums or bellowing vocals to live spaciously without becoming the sole dominant force. The album resonates with piano, acoustic guitar, swirling electric harmonies, and even a few electronic swells that immediately catch the ear. It leaves the tempo and direction of each track in a fluid state, allowing individual songs or even individual riffs to decide seemingly on their own what is to come, and it is because of that the record flaunts a masterful sense of flow, never hanging on a riff too long or filling voids of empty space with throwaway material. The harrowing paino that closes “Whelm” is hurried and eerie, the riffing of “An Ember’s Arc” moving, the acoustics of “Grasping Light” mysterious, and the numerous electronic accents within “The Smoke of Many Fires” create a synthetic edge to close out what is otherwise a very organic piece of melodic death metal.

The album does seem to crave a “Husks”-like acoustic instrumental between “Withering Strands” and “Roots to Sever”, but our substitute instrumental “A Thread Dissolves” uses its building electric guitars to bridge the gap later on in the record between the fading close of “Whelm” and the immediacy that introduces “Grasping Light”. Bellowing growls dominate the vocal landscape, and even though they are not as dynamic as the instruments surrounding them, serve as a perpetual yet subdued slice of death metal ferocity that counteracts the near-constant melodies with perfection. It is rare that the instruments veer into relative chaos, so when things do become frantic like the blast beats and swift tremolo riff that briefly rear their heads in “An Ember’s Arc” it is actually a notable event that, by coming and going swiftly, propels the song forward rather than holding it back for the sake of undue intensity. Vessels draws its heaviness sparingly and from many sources, rendering the guitars free to develop the songs rather than carry them on their backs. There is restraint present here that is the product of experience, and Vessels is an album made by songwriters who understand that an album in this vein – a conceptual piece with long tracks, little predictable structure, and lofty ambitions – cannot be allowed to fall apart because it chose the easy way out by not striving to be more than the sum of its individual parts. No one song steals the show, no one instrument towers over the others, no one mood is prevailing. Instead, we are presented with balance, care, and thoughtfulness. This is songwriting the likes of which Be’lakor have simply not displayed before, even on their oft-praised sophomore effort Stone’s Reach, a record usually considered the band’s best work – until now, that is.

That is really the only way of putting it. Vessels is immediately attention-grabbing and, ultimately, an inspiring piece of music that is borderline genre-defining. When I think of exceptional melodic death metal, I think of melodies the quality and memorability of which Vessels produces; I think of atmosphere as realized and potent as the one Be’lakor conjure here; I think of dynamic tempo shifts and evolving song structures that are the backbone of this record’s success. There is little to fault here because every detail is thought through and has purpose – it is all just staggeringly well-done. When I think of exceptional melodic death metal, I will now think of Vessels.



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user ratings (317)
Chart.
4.1
excellent
other reviews of this album
kingdedethefifth (5)
A splendid genesis of melodic death metal with a mildly soothing atmosphere to chill you from your s...


Comments:Add a Comment 
Crysis
Emeritus
June 21st 2016


17198 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Well if this isn't my favorite melodic death metal release in forever... making me come out of the retirement home that is emeritus-land to review it.



Stream it here:



http://bloody-disgusting.com/music/3395413/belakor-shines-vessels-exclusive/

Ryus
June 21st 2016


12989 Comments


melodic death metal seldom appeals to me, and that progressive tag attached to it makes me want to distance myself even more from this record but regardless i think you've sold me and i'll give this a try

Flugmorph
June 21st 2016


13860 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

wow im really stoked now.

Digging: Sepultura - Machine Messiah

Crysis
Emeritus
June 21st 2016


17198 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

It is only progressive in that the song structures are unorthodox and not predictable, nothing more.

pbateman
June 21st 2016


2195 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

honestly wasn't really down with 'An Embers Arc' and I love Be'lakor, still gonna check this out though obvs

Crysis
Emeritus
June 21st 2016


17198 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I thought "An Ember's Arc" was pretty great when it was released but in my opinion this shines as a complete record rather than a bunch of individual tracks. This record just really, really resonated with me.

pbateman
June 21st 2016


2195 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

word, you were the one who got me into them in the first place like 7 years ago or something so i'll take your word for it.



Edit: thought you were Crimson lol

zaruyache
June 21st 2016


15499 Comments


oh sweet it's streaming now? Looks like I'm doing a metal marathon today. Just finishing the new Forteresse (ruelz) and I'll hit this up next.

Willie
Moderator
June 21st 2016


17053 Comments

Album Rating: 3.4 | Sound Off

I'm not the biggest fan of this band, but this album was actually pretty good.



When we got the promo for this and no one picked it up I was kind of bummed because I knew that you would have definitely took it... and here you are, ha ha.

Essence
June 21st 2016


5515 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

wut a crysis review



will listen, the single was dope

Digging: Cultes Des Ghoules - Coven

Crysis
Emeritus
June 21st 2016


17198 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

When we got the promo for this and no one picked it up I was kind of bummed because I knew that you would have definitely took it... and here you are, ha ha.




I've been meaning to ask about the rules regarding Emeritus and promos, and whether or not I can still get them. If not I totally understand because it really is meant for active staff and I have no problem waiting for streams or the album release date to post a review when I decide to write about something.



When I finally heard this I kicked myself for not posting on the promo thread for this because it turned out to be so good. I guess you can send this review to the promo contact if you want haha

Willie
Moderator
June 21st 2016


17053 Comments

Album Rating: 3.4 | Sound Off

Obviously, active staff have first dibs on any promos, but if nobody is interested then we can definitely pass it on to Emeritus (provided that Emeritus user is consistent with reviewing things they ask for). I just sent the link to their Rep, too.

AdolfChrist
June 21st 2016


7848 Comments


Be'lakor are pretty decent, ill check this.

Digging: Government Warning - No Moderation

mifzal
June 22nd 2016


1899 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I loved what they've done so far, so this would be just another excellent album

mifzal
June 22nd 2016


1899 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Belakor = Dark Tranquility + Opeth

I think thats the math here

parksungjoon
June 22nd 2016


4937 Comments


not surprised, be'lakor have always been better than people gave them credit for

crysis m/

grabbed this gonna check soon

Keyblade
June 22nd 2016


23922 Comments


damn might have to check this. was kinda disappointed with their last album and Stone's Reach grew off me over the years

Digging: The Weeknd - Starboy

parksungjoon
June 22nd 2016


4937 Comments


oh yea mindpos

Spec
June 22nd 2016


32992 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Fuck yeah. How sick is this dudes??

parksungjoon
June 22nd 2016


4937 Comments


"melodic death metal seldom appeals to me, and that progressive tag attached to it makes me want to distance myself even more from this record but regardless i think you've sold me and i'll give this a try"

check edge of sanity - crimson



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