Of Breath and Bone
Review @ EddyRendall
A blistering assault on the eardrums and the neck muscles throughout!
This change is apparent right from the opening track. 'Abeyance' immediately begins with a fast and brutal tempo that instinctively makes the audience tap their feet and nod their head in time to the music. One can just begin to settle into this promising introduction when George Kosmas's death growl explodes upon the listener's eardrums. What then follows is a lovely combination of melody from the guitars combined with Kosmas's menacing vocals. I would consider it as the essence of melodic death metal; catchy melodies along with authentic death growls really do 'force' the listener to enjoy the track.
However, Be'lakor have not completely abandoned the more sensitive elements that were so noticeable in their last release, particularly apparent in the first few moments of 'Venator', the opening song of their 2009 release.
The second track from the new album, 'Remnants', is a prime example of the endurance of these 'sensitive elements'. The track has a very distinct and emphatic introduction, beginning with an isolated, echoing guitar and a dark, pulsing note from the strings in the base line. This combination really does enable the listener to acknowledge the central theme of the track; this idea of devastation. The track goes on to continue with a new accelerating rhythm, using incredibly catchy riffs to impress the audience. One can argue that Be'lakor have lost their quiet, emotional passages with this new release. No. Not at all. Indeed, they have used these moments to even greater effect, successfully increasing both suspense and empathy upon the listener's conscience.
Overall, the album has perhaps given a more brutal side to Be'lakor's musical ability. There are racier tempos, longer screams (or should I say, growls) and faster guitar riffs. The only criticism I have about this album is the duration. Sure, 57 minutes is a perfectly respectable time regarding an album. However, honestly, I would be happy listening to this new material for three hours straight! An absolute masterpiece; I would highly recommend this album to anyone. It is worth every penny!
Review @ miniradman
May not be as good as Stone's Reach, but still a solid release.
Of Breath and Bone, is one of those albums which focuses on creating an atmosphere rather than initiating an adrenaline rush on the listener. I mean, sure, some there are some sections in Of Breath and Bone where the speed of the music exceeds what most would consider “tranquil”, but none of it makes me want to suddenly burst out and do a 100m sprint (that’s 328.08399 feet for fellow Imperial users) even though, I would gladly head bang to most of the tracks on Of Breath and Bone. It’s not the most extreme, or brutal melodic death metal out there but it does body and mind moving at many points throughout the album.
Like I’ve just mentioned, the main focal point in Of Breath and Bone is the whole atmospheric style of melodic death metal which they play. The guitars have a thin, yet, high pitched sound to them, which makes the music softer, the guitars aren’t going at full ball all the time. However, I believe that the vocals create the most part of the overall atmosphere. It’s a little hard to describe, but Be'lakor uses more of a smoother texture in their growls, and there is pretty much a complete absence of any kind of highs (ok, there might be some, but I cannot remember any time during Of Breath and Bone where they’ve taken prominence). Which is a really good thing in my opinion because it doesn’t spoil the whole “atmospheric” or “uplifting” feelings in the concept of melodic death metal.
Another thing that I like about Be’lakor is that they are not afraid to experiment with different instruments to get their desired effect on the listener. Of Breath and Bone is full of acoustic passages, violins playing in the background as well as a few pianos here and there. This is there, probably to give the music some extra depth and meaning to it, as well as conforming with the whole “atmospheric” nature to their music. To be honest, if it wasn’t for these little side elements in Of Breath and Bone, the music would either; fall apart, or be plain as dog food and neither of which are particular appetizing for any melodic death metal fan. It’s the violins and pianos and acoustic passages which really whole the music together.
However, all this being said, I don’t really think they’ve pushed any boundaries with Of Breath and Bone. In fact, when comparing sheer music quality with Stone's Reach, Of Breath and Bone falls slightly too short. Sure, all the same elements are there in the music, but the power and feelings behind the music isn’t as outstanding. Also there was more depth in Stone’s Reach than there is in Of Breath and Bone. All of these things which gave Stone’s Reach it’s distinction as being one of the greatest melodic death metal releases ever to come out of Australia, if not, the world (although that’s highly opinionative) are seeming absent or sent so far back that they aren’t given credibility in Of Breath and Bone. This is where I believe Of Breath and Bone ultimately falls, wasted potential.
Not all is lost however, Of Breath and Bone has its moments which usually come in the form of cheerful as an Aussie riffs. In comparison with Stone’s Reach, Of Breath and Bone is the inferior release, it’s not because it’s worse than Stone’s Reach, it’s because it’s just not as good. There is nothing particularly bad with Of Breath and Bone, it’s just that the melodic death metal in Stone’s Reach was far better I have to admit. Even The Frail Tide, might be just that little bit better than, if not, on par with Of Breath and Bone which is odd because Be’lakor seem to be going down the ladder of awesomeness (when they should be going up it). All that being said however, in comparison with many other melodic death metal releases out there Of Breath and Bone is still in the very top of the top tier. Be’lakor are still one of the best melodic death metal bands by far and I would recommend Of Breath and Bone to anyone who loves melodic death or their previous albums. I’d also like to recommend the tracks By Moon and Star and Absit Omen. Overall, Of Breath and Bone might not be as good as Be’lakor’s current signature album, Stone’s Reach, but it’s still well worth a listen and shouldn’t disappoint. I give Be’lakor’s Of Breath and Bone a 15/20.
Review @ CuriousOnlookers
Aussie Melodeth still is very much alive and kicking.
One of the most important traits of a melodeath album, it is fair to say, is a balance between seriousness and fun. What I mean is that it has to stand up as a legitimate, sophisticated work of art without sacrificing the listener's ability and motive to just let loose and rock the fuck out. In this respect, Of Breath and Bone excels.
Lyrically, Be'lakor upholds their tradition of painting gorgeous landscapes and weaving insightful narratives of, in true metal fashion, desolation and decay. Be'lakor, however, manages to put a very majestic, oddly serene twist on an otherwise morbid subject matter in a manner reminiscent of melodic death/doom masters like Tuomas Saukkonen and Insomnium.
Instrumentally, though, is where the record's true strength is shown. It is a relentless barrage of endlessly fascinating high end riffs and harmonies. I can honestly say that Be'lakor produces some of the best I have heard, reinforced by driving rhythms and bass that manage to create a powerful, somber ambiance without detracting from the melody in the slightest. Also worthy of note is the interjection of absolutely beautiful acoustic strings; pianos and guitars, either in dedicated sections of their own or blended in with heavier elements. This is another of Be'lakor's greatest qualities, their ability to seamlessly blend the purely metal with the stunningly pretty, and make it fit.
On which note, my greatest disappointment with Of Breath and Bone was the lack of a true spiritual successor to Paths and Husks, a purely acoustic, and instrumental track in there just because why the hell not. To Stir the Sea was just lovely, as was the interlude in By Moon and Star, but they weren't on quite the same scale, seeming subservient to other tracks rather than being able to stand entirely alone. It's a minor complaint though, as there were still plenty of quite satisfyingly pretty moments, I'm just stretching to find things to criticize.
Perhaps most importantly, though, Of Breath and Bone is fun. It's hard not to head bang, or at least slip into the reserved nod-and-sway of the intellectual metalhead once it gets going. It is a driving force that makes you wish for a blizzard to trudge through, an attacker to fend off or just some exercise equipment to absolutely make your bitch; because you and this album, in conjunction, are an unstoppable force! Or at least you feel like one, which is half the battle, right?
All in all, Of Breath and Bone is just great. Perhaps Be'lakor must be admonished slightly for not changing up their style, which is still almost indistinguishable from the days of The Frail Tide, but on the other hand, it has definitely got boring. They are sure and consistent in what they do, so while their new material so far never offers any jaw-dropping surprises, fans like me are able to have absolute confidence that every release will be a solid one, and a joy to listen to. Of Breath and Bone was no exception.