Undoubtedly their highest achievement thus far

Make no mistake, Australia produces some of the best metal in the world. That’s not just an idle phrase to fill up a review: Be’lakor is a case in point.

This band has been special right from the start, four albums in and Vessels is undoubtedly their highest achievement thus far. While making few diversions from their established sound, Be’lakor also continue to tweak it, adding further dimensions and sonics into their complex melodic death metal oeuvre.

Like it predecessors, Vessels ebbs and flows with time-signature changes and sweeping arrangements, harnessed together with stellar song writing and a prominent, flowing storyline.

‘An Ember’s Arc’ combines atmospheric synths and acoustics with heavy but melody-ridden death metal, a catchy groove and dark ambience further on, all in the space of eight minutes or so. Next track ‘Withering Strands’ is even more expansive, bringing in further layers and elements but refusing to seem contrived. Be’lakor’s ability to build huge songs like this and making them flow has always been a strength and here they outdo themselves, working in tempo changes and instrumental flourishes with alacrity. ‘Roots to Sever’ is a sterling highlight, with a riff kicking in around the three minute mark that is to die for. ‘Whelm’ is another sweeping number, opening subtly before building into crashing death metal drumming, later on working in a brief acoustic guitar interlude. A heavily Celtic-flavoured theme serves as the intro to ‘The Smoke of Many Fires’, weaving itself back and forth through the song several times as it journeys toward the album’s end.

Once again, Be’lakor have showed themselves to be a singular talent, coming up with one of the year’s best. Again.

1. Luma
2. An Ember’s Arc
3. Withering Strands
4. Roots to Sever
5. Whelm
6. A Thread Dissolves
7. Grasping Light
8. The Smoke of Many Fires