Be’lakor interview: The return of Melbourne’s ‘timeless’ death metal heavyweights
02.06.2022

Be’lakor interview: The return of Melbourne’s ‘timeless’ death metal heavyweights

Be'lakor
Photo: Oli Sansom
Words by Christine Tsimbis

Throughout their Australian tour, Be’lakor will be treating audiences to their newest album ‘Coherence’, and will also be joined by special guests Orpheus Omega and Andy Gillion.

“ [We’re] excited. It’s been ages, like tickets are selling relatively well partly because fans haven’t seen us in six years in Australia, so we’ve had a lot of people waiting and now we’re happy to go do it,” Be’lakor keyboardist Steve Merry says. “We would’ve been a bit sooner out of the blocks but Covid slowed things down, we’ve been cautious about when to book the tour, so it’s a lot of anticipation and we’re looking forward to getting back to it.

“Another strength of this tour is the two bands that are supporting us. Orpheus Omega has a good following and play a lot of good live shows. Andy Gillian is [playing] his first ever live debut set of shows and he used to play in Mors Principium Est, so he’s a well-known figure and a lot of people are talking about how it’s a really strong line up.”

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Be’lakor’s newest album Coherence mostly follows the band’s melodic death metal sound, and has only had small changes implemented to it in comparison to their previous albums.

“Basically our lyrics never refer to politics or religion, they don’t refer to us and any views we hold, so in many ways they’re timeless,” Steve says. “If you picked up our lyrics in 100 years time, they would not lose any meaning because they’re not referring to anything that’s a current issue. They’re more like poems; they’re about nature, mythology, philosophy, science, cosmology, things that are broad concepts.”

Despite sticking to the original pattern of music, there have been divided opinions of Coherence from Be’lakor’s listeners regarding their sound.

 

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“The weird thing is with this new album, it’s our fifth album, and now we’ve reached the point where people who like the band a lot wanted it to be like our last one, but there’s only been small changes,” Steve says.

“We’ve heard both this time, we’ve heard ‘Be’lakor has not changed at all, and they’re doing the same thing’, and we’ve heard ‘Be’lakor has changed too much’ and we don’t quite know which is true. It’s in the middle.

“There’s been no drastic changes – a lot of bands in our genre, the biggest change they can make is to introduce clean vocals, big anthemic choruses, sing-a-long, but we’ve never done that. We’ve always stayed entirely harsh through our vocals and I think we’ll keep that going.”

Be’lakor have always invested a lot of time and energy into compiling their albums, and Coherence is no exception, having taken five years for the band to perfect.

“We’ve always been hard on ourselves and have taken a long time to make albums,” Steve says. “This particular one [Coherence] took five years, and there was a lot of rehashing, throwing out songs, throwing out riffs, starting again, restructuring, so we’ve probably gotten even more demanding in that respect, compared to our first couple of albums where there wasn’t as much of that.

“The core ingredients haven’t changed very much, we’ve probably added a lot more atmospheric stuff, soundscape stuff, some instruments we didn’t use as much previously have gone up, like different sorts of guitars, different sorts of acoustic guitars. The core elements haven’t really changed hugely, it’s just our process have become more rigorous as time has gone on.”

Despite being a death metal band, Be’lakor listen to a variety of different bands, some of which include Metallica, AC/DC, Queen, Iron Maiden, Led Zeppelin, along with other completely different genres.

“We listen very broadly now, we listen to everything,” Steve says. “Metal is probably just 20% of what we listen to these days. John is heavily into trance, I listen to a lot more atmospheric synth stuff, I even like Enya and stuff like that. triple j will occasionally introduce me to a new band that’s indie, like Alt J, bands that are not metal at all but they’re still doing creative things. That’s actually where ideas can come from as well.”

When asked how he’d describe Be’lakor, Steve’s response was typically earnest.

“I would say serious, I think some other bands might think we’re too serious, but the music reflects that, we take a long time to make it,” he says. “[Also] melodic, the key is always melody, if you don’t have a good melody, you don’t have much, so we always try to focus on melody as well.

“[Last one is] timeless, I like the idea of timeless as it’s not relevant to any particular current event. I certainly don’t think we’re a timeless band, I just think the ideas we explore are timeless.”

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