Originally written by Erik Thomas.
I love surprises, especially unsigned Australian surprises that sound like a fantasy/folk tinged version of early Amorphis and Insomnium mixed with the doom of Garden of Shadows with their six-track release of epic, polished atmospheric melodic death/doom metal.
Named after a demon from the Warhammer Games, Be’lakor delivers a real gem here; deep but understandable growls reminiscent of the Finnish doom/death scene and Garden of Shadows layer over a mix of synths (GoS again) and crunchy guitars that ply a mix of mid paced, upbeat melodies and layered melancholy (where the Insomnium/Amorphis reference comes in)-all delivered with a professional production and song writing that cries for a record deal (Spinefarm? Firebox?)
Opener “Neither Shape Nor Shadow” sets the tone with nearly eight minutes of top-notch music, and the melodic gallop that kicks in about 2 ½ minutes in shows an exquisite grasp of harmony, without being too Gothenburg-ish. “The Desolation of Ares” initially hints at a more direct aggressive number, but delivers an epic chord progression to die for followed by some delicate piano and solo work, then throws in a just beautiful acoustic folk segment that bridges to a truly epic mid section; it’s all just superb stuff and I’m hooked two tracks in.
The first two tracks set a pretty high standard, so the more straightforward “Tre’Aste” with its distinct Opeth vibe and definite Finnish death doom pace, is a bit of an upbeat tangent, but is enjoyable nonetheless. The excellent “A Natural Apostasy” initially canters with an eloquent Dark Tranquillity styled harmony, but with those deeper vocals never comes across as a NWSDM rip-off, rather a moodier version of the genre until the track explodes in harmonic glee about 3:30 in and then theythrow some flutes at you. Again, just excellent stuff all around. Even with the rather needless, over-drawn piano instrumental, “Paths”, at 43 minutes The Frail Tide just oozes metal perfection at almost every note, riff, solo and synth line, and for a debut from a young band, I just hope they can keep up this high level of quality.
For you fans and labels reading this, if I can give my ringing endorsement to another unsigned band other than The Pax Cecilia this year that deserves your attention right now, it’s Be’lakor.
It’s rare an unsigned act could flirt with my year-end list, but Be’lakor just might be the first….
Go forth and purchase/sign.