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Sunday, June 3, 2012

Be'lakor - Of Breath and Bone (Review)

"May not be as good as Stone's Reach, but still a solid release"

It’s been a while since Be'lakor had put anything into the melodic death metal scene (since 2009 to be precise), and now they’re back with their all new album Of Breath and Bone. For those who don’t know, Be'lakor is a melodic death metal band hailing from the land down under (Australia). They are part of a very small melodic death metal movement in Australia, which has become recognised globally. What I like about Australian melodic death metal in comparison to their North American or European (Swedish in particular) counterparts is that the style of melodic death (I say most of the bands because there only has to be just one band which doesn’t follow suit for my absolute to be shot down) is calmer and more peaceful. Typically, when I think I melodic death metal, I think of some cheesy band trying to shovel melodic death metal down my ear canal at 200bpm. However, Australian melodic death is not like the others and Be'lakor is proof of that.

Of Breath and Bone, is one of those albums which focuses on creating an atmosphere rather than initiating an adrenaline rush on the listener. I mean, sure, some there are some sections in Of Breath and Bone where the speed of the music exceeds what most would consider “tranquil”, but none of it makes me want to suddenly burst out and do a 100m sprint (that’s 328.08399 feet for fellow Imperial users) even though, I would gladly head bang to most of the tracks on Of Breath and Bone. It’s not the most extreme, or brutal melodic death metal out there but it does body and mind moving at many points throughout the album. 

Like I’ve just mentioned, the main focal point in Of Breath and Bone is the whole atmospheric style of melodic death metal which they play. The guitars have a thin, yet, high pitched sound to them, which makes the music softer, the guitars aren’t going at full ball all the time. However, I believe that the vocals create the most part of the overall atmosphere. It’s a little hard to describe, but Be'lakor uses more of a smoother texture in their growls, and there is pretty much a complete absence of any kind of highs (ok, there might be some, but I cannot remember any time during Of Breath and Bone where they’ve taken prominence). Which is a really good thing in my opinion because it doesn’t spoil the whole “atmospheric” or “uplifting” feelings in the concept of melodic death metal.

Another thing that I like about Be’lakor  is that they are not afraid to experiment with different instruments to get their desired effect on the listener. Of Breath and Bone is full of acoustic passages, violins playing in the background as well as a few pianos here and there. This is there, probably to give the music some extra depth and meaning to it, as well as conforming with the whole “atmospheric” nature to their music. To be honest, if it wasn’t for these little side elements in Of Breath and Bone, the music would either; fall apart, or be plain as dog food and neither of which are particular appetizing for any melodic death metal fan. It’s the violins and pianos and acoustic passages which really whole the music together.

However, all this being said, I don’t really think they’ve pushed any boundaries with Of Breath and Bone. In fact, when comparing sheer music quality with Stone's Reach, Of Breath and Bone falls slightly too short. Sure, all the same elements are there in the music, but the power and feelings behind the music isn’t as outstanding. Also there was more depth in Stone’s Reach than there is in Of Breath and Bone. All of these things which gave Stone’s Reach it’s distinction as being one of the greatest melodic death metal releases ever to come out of Australia, if not, the world (although that’s highly opinionative) are seeming absent or sent so far back that they aren’t given credibility in Of Breath and Bone. This is where I believe Of Breath and Bone ultimately falls, wasted potential.

Not all is lost however, Of Breath and Bone has its moments which usually come in the form of cheerful as an Aussie riffs. In comparison with Stone’s Reach, Of Breath and Bone is the inferior release, it’s not because it’s worse than Stone’s Reach, it’s because it’s just not as good. There is nothing particularly bad with Of Breath and Bone, it’s just that the melodic death metal in Stone’s Reach was far better I have to admit. Even The Frail Tide, might be just that little bit better than, if not, on par with Of Breath and Bone which is odd because Be’lakor seem to be going down the ladder of awesomeness (when they should be going up it). All that being said however, in comparison with many other melodic death metal releases out there Of Breath and Bone is still in the very top of the top tier. Be’lakor are still one of the best melodic death metal bands by far and I would recommend Of Breath and Bone to anyone who loves melodic death or their previous albums. I’d also like to recommend the tracks By Moon and Star and Absit Omen. Overall, Of Breath and Bone might not be as good as Be’lakor’s current signature album, Stone’s Reach, but it’s still well worth a listen and shouldn’t disappoint. I give Be’lakor’s Of Breath and Bone a 15/20.


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