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Ah yes the spirit of Metal lives worldwide! Having ridden roughshod through one too many crap albums on here recently it has a taken me a metaphyscial trip to the Middle East, in Jordan's Bilocate, to remember that all is not lost in the metal world. Whereas recent albums emerging from Sweden, USA and Italy have hit me with the full force of a watered-down glass of cheap coke, Bilocate's second offering has had the alcoholic equivalent of downing a pint of vodka, determined to leave a lasting impression you won't forget the consequences of in a hurry. With the impending release of Sam Dunn's "Global Metal" movie exploring the reach of heavy metal around the world, the components of Bilocate's second works would have made interesting examination for it.
Combining the elements of a number of varying bands, Bilocate have created a style mixing the sprawling, haunting soundscapes of older Opeth material, My Dying Bride's shoegazing solemnity with brilliant flourishes of Orphaned Land-like Arabic fragments resulting in something really quite special. Not surprisingly attention is drawn to 17-minute "Blooded Forest" where comparisons to "Still Life" era Opeth are clearest, both in the relaxed nature of the band's songwriting and in Ramzi Essayed's echoed gruff vocals. Possessing more than just a brooding atmosphere, "Blooded Forest" contains passages of doom so dark many Scandinavians should be taking note - Jordan is a hot sunny country ferchristsakes! Like much supposedly negative-sounding doom, one can interpret the passages of crawling desperation in "Blooded Forest", "Pure Wicked Sins" and "Ebtehal" in a positive way. The spoken word sections may possess the solitude of My Dying Bride or the aforementioned classic Opeth material but the cascading riffs and tempos that are expertly interwoven amongst these passages suggest a light at the end of the tunnel, where the weight of the riffs can at times seem too heavy but you just know respite is only round the corner.
Like Orphaned Land, perhaps the best-known and most successful Arab Metal band thus far, Bilocate are not afraid to utilise the musical elements of their society: album-closing instrumental "The Stone Of Hate" coming across akin to a Nile interlude (or should that be the other way round?) and "Inoculate" featuring an Arabian acoustic guitar that has managed to engender the strength to be heard amongst the brilliantly levelled remainder of the band. Rarely have I heard a band sound so mature in the songwriting department, able to so fluently mix granite-weight riffs with chugging old-school Hypocrisy deathisms, the heart-wrenching pulse of My Dying Bride and While Heaven Wept with mythical Middle Eastern vibes. The closest anyone has come to ticking all those boxes is Opeth and look how big they've become.
I hope anyone with a passing interest in extreme music will get to hear "Sudden Death Syndrone" for it's worth as a real work of art in a time of largely soulless plastic fillers. Whether the wonder of this album will be noticed by many given Bilocate's location is a moot point as the best art exists where audiences aren't required, but nothing more could hardly be asked of Bilocate at this stage of their career. Monumental and wonderfully captivating.
Originally written for Rockfreaks.net