Bilocate – Summoning The Bygones

These days metal can be found in every corner of the world, and that includes the Middle Eastern country of Jordan. Hailing from the city of Fuhais, the Jordanian band Bilocate describes their sound as “dark oriental metal,” though it’s important to note that in this case the word “oriental” means mid-east, as opposed to far-east (think Opeth and Swallow The Sun meets Orphaned Land). Their second album, 2008’s Sudden Death Syndrome, earned them some international acclaim, and they have now returned with their third effort, Summoning The Bygones. Curiously for a band with only two albums under their belt, Bygones is mostly not new material, but rather a re-recorded and altered version of their 2005 debut, Dysphoria.

The opening of “The Tragedy Within” immediately sets a desert atmosphere with a heavily mid-eastern influenced guitar melody, which slowly builds in intensity as the bass and heavy guitar riffs join in. A furious burst of riffs and blasting drums transitions into the song’s first main structure, which is a mix of progressive and melodic death/doom that sets the tone for most of the album. Despite its nearly nine minute run time, “The Tragedy Within” never becomes tiresome. Bilocate has mastered the ability to seamlessly shift from reserved doom and progressive melodies to thunderous death metal assaults with blistering solos, always keeping the listener engaged and eager for more. “Beyond Inner Sleep” is a new song for Bygones, with a heavy gothic influence heard in the backing synths, keys, and lumbering guitars. Vocalist Ramzi Essayed introduces a more blackened death vocal style on this song, which is interspersed with a spoken word clean vocal style.

“A Deadly Path” ratchets up the energy considerably, opening with a maniacal storm of guitars and pounding drums before shifting to mid-tempo thrash punctuated with one brilliant solo after another. “Passage” brings progressive metal back to the fore, with sorrowful acoustic melodies, low-key solos, and synths that would be right at home on an Edge of Sanity album. Interestingly, Bilocate chose to follow “Passage” with “Dead Emotion,” a cover of a Paradise Lost song. Fortunately, this does nothing to interrupt the flow of the album; it gives no clues from listening that it wasn’t written by the band themselves.

“Hypia” is a re-imagined version of Dysphoria’s “Days of Joys,” and this version with the help of Dan Swanö’s exquisite clean vocals is one of the best progressive metal songs I’ve heard in years, worthy of appearing on a potential Crimson III. The weeping guitar melodies, beautiful piano pieces, and haunting solos are absolutely infectious, and the duet of Essayed and Swanö’s roaring vocals as the song closes is the ultimate capper. You’ll have this one on repeat for quite awhile. “2nd War In Heaven” channels Opeth, continually shifting its energy from raging progressive death to serene acoustic melodies. The album finally reaches its apex with “A Desire To Leave”, an epic finale composed of three parts: “Obscurity, Surrounding Hell, and …Of Leaving.” In these three parts, Bilocate manages to incorporate every style they’ve introduced thus far – progressive, thrash, death, doom, and gothic, seemingly all at once, and yet the songs never become lost or confused, they simply flow together beautifully.

Summoning The Bygones was co-produced, mixed, and mastered at Fascination Street Studios by Jens Bogren. The production is a combination of the sublime and the infuriating. The mix is excellent, with ample use of the stereo stage particularly during the softer and more melodic sections, and each instrument including the bass is well defined, with the leads, synths, and keys all having plenty of space in the sonic image. The CD master on the other hand is atrocious, slammed to hell with near continuous clipping in many parts of the songs, and as usual the drums and the impact from the guitars suffer. Frankly it’s a testament to how well this album was recorded that it sounds as good as it does considering the horrible master. I struggle to think of an album made this year that’s more deserving of a vinyl or high-res digital release. Unchained from the wreckage of so much compression and clipping, the sound of this album would be off the charts good.

I wasn’t sure what to expect with Summoning The Bygones, as I thought Sudden Death Syndrome wandered and generally lacked focus, with most of the songs overstaying their welcome. Bygones is by no means brief, with most of the songs clocking in around the eight or nine minute mark, but it’s so expertly paced that you don’t even notice the lengthy run time. The final notes of the third part of “A Desire To Leave” feel like the end of some great voyage across a vast space; it’s an experience. To put it simply: this thing is awesome. Buy it.

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