Kicking off this strangely attractive opus from Australia's current undergrond darlings are the gentle notes of a short, mood-setting instrumental that drags in the vibrant "Venator." It's tempting to rank the quintet behind this release among your favorite Opeth and Dark Tranquility, but these lads have an inventiveness in their music that's beyond your average melodic death metal band. More importantly: They aren't even part of any melo-death scene. Besides the harsh vocals from rhythm axeman George Kosmas, the rest of his band put their hearts into creating the saddest music to ever come from cheery Australia. With glimmers of doom, the occasional ambience of black metal, and sophistication that can only belong to the proggy stuff, "Stone's Reach" is a mixed bag. Reactions to this album are equally varied.
While those blessed with patience and broader tastes would welcome the band's dynamic approach to composition—there are about several subtle transitions crammed into each song here—metalheads inclined toward musical violence will easily dismiss this release as a snoozefest. It really can't be helped, especially when the energetic decibels of "Sun's Delusion" and "From Scythe To Scepter" are drowned in w aves of complexity. Though musicianship-wise Be'lakor are tighter than your favorite pair of skinny jeans, songwritng leaves the impression of being glass-is-half-empty at best, with a predielction for big words, a kindergarten rhyme scheme for the lyrics, and broad themes the listener can barely relate to. But hey, who says heavy metal is poetry?
Those ready to give these Aussies a try, however, will find themselves well catered for on almost every song here. (There are eight.) You can say the band have easter eggs of musical wonder embedded in the drawn out soundscpes "Outlive the Hand," "Husks," and the massive album closer "Countless Skies" that has a deligthful little prelude titled "Aspect." As your ears tingle at each crescendo of painstakingly wrought music and effortless segues into orgasmic instrumental, Be'lakor emerge as a band on the cusp of finding a broad audience for what they peddle. While your attraction to the incredibly detailed cover art draws you in like an enraptured moth, keep in mind where your metallic tastes are. "Stone's Reach" ain't a beaut for those craving a bruatl fix. To be honest about this, Be'lakor will likely emerge as heroes of nerd metal once their latest has proliferated across the metal scene.
"Stone's Reach" ain't a beaut for those craving a bruatl fix. To be honest about this, Be'lakor will likely emerge as heroes of nerd metal once their latest has proliferated across the metal scene.