Be'lakor Stone's Reach

Australian outfit Be'Lakor (named after a Warhammer character) have been picked up by Kolony Records, so this second album, originally released independently, is thankfully more readily available. Stone's Reach is melodic death metal with a perceptible, but non-intrusive, Scandinavian influence. The album boasts extremely strong and varied compositions, image-rich lyrics and a dark, often introspective tone. Elegant guitar leads and keyboards add to the overall melancholy, while the organic, but clear, production opens up all the complexities and layers. Although the music is unarguably catchy, it is intelligent and isn't too accessible. It borders on experimental, at times, with unexpected changes and peculiar timing. For instance, sometimes the drums and rhythm guitar shift into something that sounds completely at odds with the lead, and yet somehow it all comes together without pretension or affectation. With weakness being a rarity, Stone's Reach is an example of melodic metal at its best. (Kolony)