BelakorMelodeath from Melbourne with a Progressive edge this quintet have been kicking about for a while now and gathering much love and fists in the air from metal heads who enjoy their extremity with plenty of melody and texture.

Opener Luma sticks the Prog out the front the riffs of Shaun Sykes and George Kosmas building off the back of the splashy drums of Elliot Sansom and heartbeat of John Richardson’s bass.

An Ember’s Arc continues this with a delicious acoustic opening before Kosmas drops his vocal which reminds me of Choronzon era Akercocke. There are blasts in here. Oh yes there are blasts.  As with many artists who mix Prog and metal each track is sonic collage creating a musical piece of many parts. There are parts in this track that make the hairs on my neck bristle and other parts that meander past.

Withering Strands has a guitar line that would not be out of place in a Grand Magus or Amon Amarth track with even a hint of epic Maiden in there. Steve Merry’s use of keys throughout the album adds texture and atmosphere without cutting through the tracks this is especially true on this one. His simple but effective piano places a peaceful melancholy within the maelstrom that surrounds it.  This continues into “Roots to Sever” Merry picks out the riff on his ivories before the guitars and bass kick in. Kick in they do, with aplomb. This is a hearty bastard, a fists in the air fucking rocker. A track to help  row your longships towards a land of plunder. I must quickly add a disclaimer here. Be’Lakor are not a Viking metal band –(they are named after a Warhammer baddy – do they Vikings in that?) . This is more about the illusions conjured up in my mind – a little like those that the main protagonist has in Deathgasm the movie (go see it metalheads) .

“Whelm” sees the drums out front and centre driving the track forward. Again Be’Lakor use an acoustic passage as a mid-point allowing them to break back in in a new direction and with a new riff.  Great use of Hammond keys here creating a Hammer film on speed ambience with a hint of Cradle of Filth for good measure.

“A Thread Dissolves “is 3 minutes of atmosphere laden darkened prog filled with strangled cries and big drums giving it a very eerie feel.  “Grasping Light” has the most frantic opening of any track on Vessels and jumps out the speakers before changing pace to a more groovesome headbanger.

Ten minute closer “The Smoke of Many Fires” serves as a sonic smorgasbord of the tracks that preceded it, melding them together into epic epitaph for Vessels. Again they use acoustic passages to great effect using them as a foil for giant riffs and spiralling guitar lines. Towards the end of the track is a beatific almost folky section which builds and builds into a deathly crescendo. Top stuff!

Be’Lakor mix many elements to create their sound and , for me, get the balance just right . Things never veer off too far into Prog or Death territory but dig their own groove and keep my foot tapping and head nodding throughout the 8 tracks.

(7.5/10 Matt Mason)