For a number of years-and two previous albums-Beholder have been crafting a good name for themselves in the British underground metal scene. They have come a long way in the past couple of years, but with the release of Reflections they could find themselves thrust into the world of the international heavyweights.
A clock counts down to the opening salvo of “Frozen Steps of Utøya”, signalling the beginning of an almighty slab of pure metal. Beholder display more of a progressive edge with this latest offering from the off, conjuring sounds reminiscent of the greats of the modern prog movement like Meshuggah and Gojira. Frozen Steps of Utøya is a great display of a band transitioning naturally into music that fits them just as comfortably as their classic metal roots.
Beholder have kept the melody that they have become well known for in the past in many of their choruses. However, there is more of an assurance in the execution on Reflections in tracks like “I, Machine”, “Heal the Wounds” and “Dance Macabre.” Multi layered vocals give them a raw depth of emotion that works incredibly well with the lyrics.
Production wise this is Beholder’s strongest album to date and there is a clarity to the songs that hasn’t been there entirely in the past. For the music that they have written for Reflections this higher production value is imperative during the more melodic sections; such as the middle portion of fourth track “Host.”
Beholder have always been known for their biting and-at times-scathing real world lyrics, taking on all comers in the political echelons. There is no exception with Reflections. Vocalist and lyricist Simon Hall’s (different guy I swear) vocals and intentions cut through on all tracks like a knife into the political elite.
Instrumentally this is a very confident album, with use of odd rhythms in the guitars and bass, solid, brutal drumming and use of acoustic guitar lend themselves to the sound that Beholder wish to create and open them to further expansion over future albums. “Breathe in the Silence” is possibly the most complex technically, shifting between heavy riffing and hyper melody (there’s even a section that sounds Dream Theater-esque).
Shades of Mastodon are also present throughout the album, but as a whole Reflections remains unique and its own entity. With the level of musicianship and song writing on display this could potentially be the release that propels Beholder from being a nationally known band to international contenders.
The final two tracks on Reflections (“My Revolution” and “Speak to Me”) sum up what I believe Beholder wanted to achieve: an undeniably heavy album, with a bittersweet sentiment packed full of emotion. I’ll be damned if I don’t keep listening to this album over and over again.
“This is our revolution.”
Reflections will be released on 12th April, 2016 via Razorlline Music.
Reflections track listing:
01. Frozen Steps of Utøya
02. I, Machine
03. Heal the Wounds
05. Dance Macabre
06. Breathe in the Silence
07. Killing Time
08. Army of One
09. My Revolution
10. Speak to Me
Simon Hall – Vocals
Scott Taylor – Guitar
Si Fielding – Bass
Chris Bentley – Drums
Review by Simon Hall, not Simon Hall from Beholder, another Simon Hall who writes reviews for Planetmosh.