Be’Lakor – Coherence (Album Review)

Pinterest LinkedIn Tumblr +

An epic journey to greater congruity unfolds.

Far from being a one-trick pony, melodic death metal has proven a high diverse sub-genre and veritable movement unto itself that has spawned a number of interesting variations. Arguably the most interesting of the lot is what one might call the dream variant, pertaining to a more atmospheric and drawn out take on the original Gothenburg-born style that rose to prominence courtesy to the mid-2000s efforts of a number of Finnish outfits such as Omnium Gatherum, Insomnium and Eternal Tears Of Sorrow. Curiously enough, while this niche is most readily associated with bands hailing from Northern Europe, the Australian quintet Be’Lakor could be seen as the band that has taken it to its logical conclusion, injecting a more adventurous, progressive flavor into the template to further accentuate it’s otherworldly character, and their latest and 5th studio effort Coherence proves to be no exception in taking its audience through an elaborate world of vivid imagery.

The highly abstract cover art might appear to contradict the meaning of the album’s name, but in reality it points to an album that flows much like an impressionist painting, presenting a series of concrete stories and visuals in a unified yet hazy manner. Naturally this analogy only tells part of the story, as this album’s time is divided equally between the nature-based subject matter common in impressionism and the more fantastical themes common to metal lyrics. Musically speaking, it lives up to its title by displaying a consistent expression of cold and biting metallic riff work and a misty assortment of keyboard ambiences, along with some piano and acoustic guitar passages that often resemble the dreamy handiwork of Insomnium. However, the overall presentation proves to be a tad more aggressive and epic in scope, to the point where any individual song clocking in at less than seven minutes in length is an instrumental offering that functions more as a short divergence into even more abstract territory.

From its very inception, this opus erects a series of elaborate structures from a very basic principle, both lyrically and musically speaking. The grandiose opening number “Locus”, it’s very title referring to a location of great significance, gradually emerges from a dense, hazy atmospheric prelude topped off with a droning harmonized guitar line into an explosion of raw intensity, spearheaded by the deep guttural roar of vocalist/guitarist George Kosmas and his elaborate six-string interplay with lead guitarist Shaun Sykes. But even more impressive than the radical shifts in dynamics that occur is the brilliant transitions in rhythm and feel, as the bulk of this song seesaws between a blasting fury and a driving march, yet finds itself occasionally veering into more nuanced territory. Somewhat shorter yet equally elaborate successors such as “Foothold” and “Hidden Window” mirror this running the gamut of tempos and contrasting timbres in a similarly through-composed fashion, the former coming off as a tad more chaotic and ferocious, while the former delves deeper into the band’s progressive tendencies and vacillates between up tempo metallic fury and a grooving, quasi-acoustic balladry.

“Coherence” Album Artwork

For the most part, this series of extended anthems feels like an all-encompassing experience that could almost be treated as a singular one-hour song, but beneath the freely stroked brushings of color is an implicit line that separates one chapter from the next. Particularly with the longer offerings this separation becomes more apparent once the introductory material elapses, though it’s interesting to note that the consistently driving shuffle of “Valence” almost sounds like a restatement of the larger middle section of “Locus”, albeit denser and more elaborate. On the other hand, the closing 12 minute melodic slough “Much More Was Lost” contains a highly distinctive recurring guitar hook that is impossible to mistake for anything heard prior, and the contrasting segments that round out its structure are noticeably more disparate than any previous song, closing things on a highly climactic note. Ultimately the greatest points of contrast prove to be the shorter instrumental works, and the standout among them being the brilliant merger of howling lead guitars and acoustic jamming “Sweep Of Days”, further solidifying Be’Lakor’s honorary status as a Finnish melodeath band in exile.

With rock solid performances turned in by Insomnium and Omnium Gatherum, this year has already proven to be a boon for the melodic death metal faithful, and Be’Lakor’s entry could be likened to the elaborate design that adorns the top of the proverbial cake. It’s the sort of album that announces its prowess at its very first, yet due to its highly involved and complex nature, has enough staying power to keep even the most obsessive of listeners busy for the remainder of 2021, if not well into the next year. The balancing act that goes with remaining accessible to the same audience that originally fell in love with 90s classics such as “The Jester Race” and “The Gallery” while also delving into the sort of progressive territory that is often reserved to the likes of Ne Obliviscaris and Persefone is by no means an easy one, but this album might fool most into thinking otherwise. Consistency doesn’t necessarily imply either simplicity or complexity, and in this band’s world, simplicity and complexity function more as partners rather than adversaries.

Released By: Napalm Records
Release Date: October 29th, 2021
Genre: Progressive Death Metal

Musicians:

  • George Kosmas / Vocals, Guitar
  • Shaun Sykes / Guitar
  • John Richardson / Bass
  • Elliott Sansom / Drums
  • Steven Merry / Piano and synths

“Coherence” Track-List:

1. Locus
2. The Dispersion
3. Foothold
4. Valence
5. Sweep of Days
6. Hidden Window
7. Indelible
8. Much More Was Lost

8.9 Excellent

Australia’s hottest melodic death metal export with a progressive edge delivers yet another brilliant, albeit more abstract auditory journey into a parallel realm of many twists and turns, all the while maintaining that classic hook-based edge that has been the sub-genre’s staple since the mid-1990s

  • Songwriting 9.5
  • Musicianship 9
  • Originality 8.5
  • Production 8.5
Share.

Leave A Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

24,401Fans
1,991Followers
34,000Subscribers