When you think of Jordan (the tiny, middle Eastern kingdom, as opposed to the self-aggrandizing former glamour model), you don’t usually conjure images of innovative heavy metal. Matters may well- and thankfully- be about to change thanks to the dark, creative brilliance that underpins the latest release from Bilocate.
According to their press, Bilocate view their music as “Oriental Dark Metal”, and whilst technically correct, be under no illusion, this record is resolutely European in scope and outlook, with all the key ingredients you would expect: high quality musicianship, progressive themes and ideas and , of course, huge riffing all wonderfully in place. But there is more. A lovely, expansive and expressive production from Swedish producer Jens Bogran (Opeth, Katatonia, Bloodbath, Amon Amarth, etc.) adds to the sense of scope and ambition but it is the band’s focussed attention to structured songwriting that marks this release out from the usual, run of the mill “will this do?” product from less inventive and more predictable artists.
Consider “The Dead Sea” and “Ebethal”: two of the most enigmatic tracks on the record. In addition to the pummelling drumming and semi-audible growl that you would expect, there’s additional rolling piano, acoustic guitar and reflective, introspective vocals- not what you would usually expect from a doom metal band, but then Bilocate clearly have bigger ideas and ambition. The invention and creativity work brilliantly well.
The overall songwriting quality is consistently high across the record, perhaps best exemplified by “Blooded Forest” , a seventeen minute epic that understands the true sense of the word. Its by turns intense, reflective, ambient and crushing. The influences are often easy to spot, but that’s no bad thing. A little bit of Opeth here, a little bit of My Dying Bride there. Yes, even a nod to Iron Maiden‘s “Rime of the Ancient Mariner”.
“Inoculate” is a flowing, intricate procession of chugging guitars and keyboards. “Pure Wicked Sins” is the slowest and most obviously doom metal track here, and does, if I’m honest, feel slightly humdrum after the creativity that has preceded it. The album closes, as it began, with another instrumental “The Stone of Hate” which harnesses the skilled musicianship of the band and, as a parting shot, its a belligerent and evocative one.
Although the external influences on this record are strong, this is not a pastiche or a cut-and-paste record. On the contrary, ‘Sudden Death Syndrome’ represents a big leap forward for the band and illustrates just what is possible within the often predictable and rule based world of doom metal. Rather like their homeland, Bilocate are a band definitely worth exploring.