"Sudden Death Syndrome"


01. Humans & The Dark Affiliation
02. Blooded Forest
03. The Dead Sea
04. Ebtehal
05. Inoculate
06. Pure Wicked Sins
07. The Stone of Hate

RATING: 8/10

You'll find quality metal in the most unlikely of places if you look hard enough. Jordanian band BILOCATE is the proof in the pudding with an excellent collection of majestic doom/death songs called "Sudden Death Syndrome". It is a classic European-style doom effort with dark melodies, lush atmospherics, and hints of Middle Eastern mystic sounds, though the latter not nearly as prevalent as one might assume.

For 51 minutes (across seven tracks), BILOCATE takes the listener on a melancholy ride through dark forests, deep caverns, shallow waters and just about every other cliché you could use to describe a doom album possessing the power to suck in the listener and not let go. The album's sound is fantastic too, undoubtedly helped by the mixing, co-production, and engineering work of Jens Bogren (OPETH, KATATONIA, BLOODBATH, AMON AMARTH, et al). The blend of heavy riffing, chilling piano, and rich, earthy tones makes the already well-written compositions that much better.

In terms of comparison, think generally of a mix of NOVEMBERS DOOM (particularly the vocals of Ramzi EsSayed) and MY DYING BRIDE, although one could point to several European doom bands that blend heaviness with ethereal beauty. The 17-minute "Blooded Forest" is most representative of the album's marriage of aggression and grace. After a slow-to-mid tempo section of tuneful riff crunch (even here the pace alternates between a crawl and a quicker step), the pace picks up, led by a swirling lick, eventually breaking around the 11-minute mark for a pristine piano segment with choral effects. The song then regains its brilliantly melodic flow, and the entire time the listener never once considers that he's spent nearly 20 minutes listening to a single track. Indeed, each cut is arranged to highlight those ebbs and flows, making a song like "The Dead Sea" heavy, epic, and shimmering all at once before the track kicks into overdrive for an absolutely slamming section at the 3:30 mark. The keyboard work of Waseem EsSayed, in particular, is superbly integrated into the arrangements throughout the album, whether standing naked or woven into the colorful tapestry.

I'll spare you the nauseatingly thorough track-by-track analysis of the remainder and just say that stunning beauty (meditative, light 'n breezy, tribal-esque, angelic) joins the crushingly heavy as one makes his way through the disc. On "Sudden Death Syndrome", BILOCATE has mastered the art of making a long doom album appealing to more than just the diehards. It all comes down to flow and compositional acumen; BILOCATE has nailed both.


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