Don’t let the name and image fool you – Be’Lakor aren’t Vikings, trolls or Norwegian Satan worshippers but rather a melodic death metal band from Australia, a country not normally associated with such attributes. Taking their name from a Warhammer character, the band have been together since 2004 and “Of Breath & Bone” is their third album, following “The Frail Tide” in 2007 and “Stone’s Reach” in 2009.
It doesn’t take long – in fact it’s almost instantaneous – for the obvious European influences to hit once you press play and opening track ‘Abeyance’ rumbles out of the speakers. At once bringing together In Flames, At the Gates and Dimmu Borgir in an epic soundscape that goes from lush, melodic guitars to stabbing riffs and chopping double-kick drum rhythms before closing with a delicately picked outro, the song is very indicative of the album as a whole and if you’re a fan of any of those bands – and to be honest, there’s probably a handful of other bands you could name check that fit into a similar ballpark – then you’ll probably have a whale of a time with this album. If you’re not totally into the whole multi-layered, polished production and keyboard-backed melodic death metal thing then maybe you might find this album a bit of a slog.
And that’s what makes this album a bit of a hard sell if you’re not totally on board. With no songs coming in under six minutes – apart from the folky interlude ‘To Stir the Sea’ – it takes a lot of commitment to stay with the album all the way through. It seems an obvious thing to say that if you’re not into a certain style then you won’t like an album’s worth of it but casual listeners may be put off by the continual misery and mournful nature of the songs. On the flip-side of that, the band obviously has a vision and they do what they do very well.
“Of Breath And Bone” is an album that has designs of epic proportions and Be’Lakor are more than capable of delivering exactly that. The production – courtesy of Jens Bogren (Paradise Lost, Opeth) – makes everything sound huge, but well played and sounding great is one thing; keeping it interesting for the course of a whole album is another, and ultimately this album is a little too one-note and drawn-out.