Summoning The Bygones
posted on 10/2012 By:
Jordanian death / doom outfit Bilocate describes their sound as “Oriental dark metal,” though that may confuse some Western readers. It’s important to note that therein these guys are utilizing an older usage of the term “Oriental” than the one most Americans would immediately recognize. This moody blend of the aggressive and the downcast adds in the Middle Eastern melodies that one would expect, given the band’s origins, but there is nothing of the Far Eastern region and culture that the word “Oriental” has come to denote. To briefly diverge upon a tangent: To 18th and 19th century Europeans, the Orient was the likes of Egypt and Persia (witness the Orient Express, a train that runs from Paris to Istanbul), but over time, the area encompassed by that term has shifted much farther eastward. Bilocate uses the word to mean its earlier connotation, and all geographic, historic, and linguistic lessons aside, the latter two-thirds of their equation is undeniable: This metal is definitely dark. And it’s definitely good.
Though Bilocate’s debt to the likes of Opeth and Novembers Doom is clear, through sporadic use of those Middle Eastern melodies, they manage to inject enough small bits of distinction into their prog-tinted death / doom to push it above mere tagalong and into the higher ranks. They garnered deserved praise for 2008’s Sudden Death Syndrome, and Summoning The Bygones follows that record’s path into oddly triumphant gloom. The band’s skill as constructors of mood and melody is evident from the first track, the nearly nine-minute “The Tragedy Within,” which opens with a simultaneously droning and bouncing Middle Eastern melody, before the band enters and the pace picks up, at times ripping outright. Bilocate’s ability to inject atmosphere into their drifting slow segments and energy into the heavier and faster moments serves them well – it’s in that dichotomy that the best death / doom prevails, and there’s plenty of the contrast here. Witness the storming "A Deadly Path" for a grand example of dark metal with fire and fury.
From “Tragedy” onward, Summoning The Bygones rolls through its ten tracks in an epic seventy-two minutes – half of these ten are over eight minutes long, while only one is shorter than five minutes – and its sheer overwhelming length is its only negative, and only an admittedly minor one at that. Still, the fact remains that there is a lot of Bygones to digest in one sitting, and a few of these tunes drift away, particularly towards the album’s mid-section. (Even as a huge Paradise Lost fan, I would bet that excising the cover of that band’s “Dead Emotion” would vastly help Bygones. That cover isn’t a failure, but it doesn’t contribute anything here – it’s the stuff of b-side, a tribute and little more than a nod to the gods of the style.) Nevertheless, Bygones saves some of its best moments for the end, closing with the three-part suite of “A Desire To Leave,” part of which is one of the scattered segments that feature the clean vocals of guest Dan Swano.
Still, if you’ve got the time, then, by and large, Bygones brings the goods. Produced by the reliable Jens Bogren, the record sounds great, slick without being overly so, stout and punchy. Guitarists Baha Farah and Rami Haikal (augmented by session guitarist Ala’a Farad) benefit from a clear, crisp tone, switching deftly between the genre-requisite chiming clean arpeggios and crushing distorted chords, while Waseem Essayed’s keyboards are often up front, sometimes the focus but never overwhelming. On the vocal front, Swano adds his baritone cleans against the standard growls of Ramzi Essayed, who could stand to inject something a bit outside the norm into his performances to further elevate the whole.
In the long run, Bilocate doesn’t deviate too far from the death / doom norm, but there’s enough divergence to give some semblance of identity, and even when there’s only the thinnest of hair’s breadths between them and their influences, these guys do what they do with ample skill, and there’s certainly something to that. Summoning The Bygones is a well-executed exercise in moody dark metal – though it could be trimmed up, for sure. There’s room for improvement, but this band impresses.
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