Of Breath and Bone

Did you hear? Finland’s melodic death metal masters Insomnium have renamed themselves as “Be’lakor”! That’s the name of an evil character from the popular Warhammer franchise by the way. Who would have thought that Finnish dudes actually play games apart from eating, breathing and excreting metal music?

I lied. Be’lakor is actually a five-piece melancholic, melodic death metal band from the isolated continent of Australia (with regards to the metal world map and not the one you see in geography textbooks), and they are really the secret disciples of Insomnium and have been tasked to carry on the Insomnium torch for the Finnish band should they meet with an early and unprecedented demise.

Again, I lied.  Basically, the idea is that this talented quintet sound like clones of Insomnium, and while this means their playing style isn’t original, it is still meant as a compliment because there isn’t quite any style of melodic death metal that seems to tug at the heartstrings as well as the kind being peddled by Insomnium. Sure, as one listens to this third studio effort from the Australian band, similarities to various other Scandinavian and European melodic death metal bands will surface, but that unmistakably Niilo Sevänen-ish sound of George Kosmas’ harsh vocals and romantic harmonization between the twin guitars just scream of Insomnium worship.

As one would expect from Insomnium clones, the guitars heard in every song are extremely melodic and stroll along at a moody pace almost befitting of doom metal. Every note and chord resounds effectively within the embittered soul of one’s vulnerable inner child, and one after another, they craft beautiful melodies which often soar to awe-inspiring climaxes that conjure a transcendental and fleeting snapshot of what lies beyond our observable universe. Examples of such moments can be heard in the form of a heart-racing guitar solo that lasts from 5:16 to 5:41 in opening track, “Abeyance”, and the intense harmonization between the syncopated motif being played by the lead guitar and the legato motif played by the second guitar as heard from 5:09 to 5:21 in penultimate track, “The Dream And Waking”.

The keyboard accompaniment provided by Steven Merry sounds sufficiently celestial, but a potential improvement could be having more solo moments for his instrument in order to set Be’lakor further apart from the rest of the run-of-the-mill melodic death metal bands, whom often have to resort to the “mandatory chick on keyboards” tactic to draw in potential new fans.”

What Be’lakor does better than Insomnium, though, is having the knack for composing lengthy songs that mostly clock in at 6 minutes or more. The track-count of this record is at a modest number of 8, but the total running time clocks in at an extensive 56 minutes and 15 seconds. The reasoning here is simple: more Insomnium-esque melodic death metal, more listening pleasure.

The music is perfect for everyone’s inner emotional selves, but what didn’t strike me as well is the cover art. Re-interpreted/designed versions of classic bedtime stories or myths seem to be all the rage in popular culture these days, with recent examples being the movies “Snow White And The Huntsman” and “Red Riding Hood”. Be’lakor joins in the fun by having artist Costin Chioreanu design the above cover, which is a Baroquely dark take on the classic French bedtime story of “Little Red Riding Hood”. Obviously, the artwork must be related to the theme of the song lyrics, but the Insomnium brand of melodic death metal has always been evocative of picturesque nighttime forest scenery (thanks to Insomnium’s similarly-themed album covers) rather than pop-culture-influenced imagery. An illustration of, say, a few bald trees juxtaposed against an ice-blue nighttime sky dotted with stars and a crescent moon might have worked out better.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Dane Prokofiev
June 25th, 2012


  1. Commented by: Staylow

    While they certainly do share many similarities with Insomnium, a clone they are not – far from it IMO. I hear a little recent Amorphis at times too. 3 albums in, these guys stand head and shoulders above the pack of similar bands – on the same ground now as Omnium Gatherum.

  2. Commented by: xiweinx

    I agree with Staylow. Couldn’t have said it better.
    This is my favourite melodeath band, hands down.
    I’ve been following them since their first offering and they’ve never let me down.

  3. Commented by: Stiffy

    Insomnium isn’t as interesting. They lost their depth after Since the Day. Belakor have much more to offer.

  4. Commented by: Evil In U

    Love this band. Similar to Insomnium but definitely not a clone.

  5. Commented by: chocolatebattleaxe

    I think this band is much better than insomnium. mostly because they throw in a lot of different stuff in their songs to keep it fresh. although it would appear they are clones on the surface they have a sense of melody that is really their own too.

  6. Commented by: Plasma

    The Be’lakor guys claimed several years back when they released The Frail Tide that they hadn’t even heard of Insomnium – when the comparisons were first being made. So make of that what you will…

    George Kosmas is far more reminiscent of Johan Hegg than Niilo IMO.

  7. Commented by: Guilliame

    I hear a lot of Agalloch, in the way lead guitar plays the melody. This is a very good album. The songs may be a tad too “the same”.

  8. Commented by: luzaq

    fuck you any musical ear.. Would say belakor is steps ahead of insomnium. the melodies and composition and the grip belakor is almost insane, a spiritual tradecence.
    Belakor IMHO is the best melo death band in the world

  9. Commented by: Myself

    How many times did this person mention Insomnium in a Be’lakor review?? IMO Be’lakor is quite different,and though I like Insomnium, I LOVE Be’Lakor. A clone?!? Only if you happen to be deaf.

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