Review : Glorior Belli - The Great Southern Darkness
MetalreviewThe city of New Orleans was founded by the French in the early 18th Century, and it has a long history of French-influenced culture in its food, music, and architecture. From the perspective of a metal fan, the place called NOLA gave us one of the most fruitful and original underground scenes of the last 25 years, most notably bringing about the birth of sludge and injecting metal with a distinctly southern vibe. These bands reflected a different, but no less honest, side of their city and the South as a whole, and have since influenced countless bands within the underground.
So really, it was only a matter of time before a French band stood back, reflected on the cultural relationship, and said, “Wait, we want in.” Enter Glorior Belli, who quickly gained notoriety in the French black metal scene thanks to animalistic albums such as Manifesting the Raging Beast. They really found their own sound with 2009’s Meet Us at the Southern Sign, a swaggerific slab of nasty that relished in the addition of some serious twang to the band’s already thickly-riffed black metal.
The Great Southern Darkness furthers this merging of the band’s two stylistic sources by adding emphasis to both: it is somehow more blackened and more southern than Meet Us at the Southern Sign. Keeping the “southern” in the album title may seem a bit gimmicky to some, but who cares? This is the sound of Glorior Belli telling those people to get fucking bent by filtering the whiskey-soaked American South through the sophistication of French black metal. And as if they didn’t have enough of a cocky saunter, they added just a hint of a confrontational punk attitude to the songs, which furthers the NOLA connection (at least to this guy).
The range of approaches offered herein will seem a mite schizo to the uninitiated, but Glorior Belli’s solid song structures – and their collective volcanic vehemence – aids transitions in feeling natural. The Great Southern Darkness has a veritable deluge of gritty, brash and twangy black metal riffs, simplistic, almost black/punk chord chugging, straight blues metal lines, and even bits of Dissection-esque tremolo-tinged melodic black metal. The fact that “Negative Incarnate” juxtaposes the latter against a jam section straight out of a Down album is a massive credit to the band’s confidence in their material. There are more than a few moments when their sudden shifts call to mind Soilent Green, but instead of shifting from grind to sludgy blues, they go from black metal to, well, blackened blues. (And for the record, Glorior Belli beats the living shit out of a certain blackened band that is actually from NOLA.) A few songs feel more wholly black metal (“Secret Ride to Rebellion”) and a couple nearly totally blues (the smooth title track), but it is the combination the band provides over the entire album that makes these 48 minutes too begrimed to resist....full text
Heavymetal.The Great Southern Darkness is the fourth full-length from Paris-based black metal band Glorior Belli, and it’s a beautiful, ugly hybrid creation. Swampy and Southern, this album isn’t at all what many may have expected from the usually nostalgic and introspective French black metal scene.
While The Great Southern Darkness is certainly dirtier and more aggressive, it also possesses a poetic sensibility and sophistication that set Glorior Belli apart. The term that most springs to mind is “Cajun metal”: French meeting South, grand architectural sweeps meeting fiery, gritty passion. “Blackened” has never seemed like a more appropriate a term.
The songs on The Great Southern Darkness are solid, almost classical in their construction, grand narrative lines that swell and crescendo. But this structure is filled out with twangy, groovy, dirty guitar tones and chugging rhythms, all buzz saw, black flies, tar and whiskey. The album is also well constructed as a whole, with great transitions.
The blues-tinted black metal of “Secret Ride to Rebellion” opens, widens and gives way to the much thicker, sludgier “They Call Me The Black Devil” beautifully, the swarming black metal guitars bridging the distance between the songs. The attention to structure and foundation that Glorior Belli employ allow a great deal of experimentation with riffs, tones and rhythms.
The vocals on The Great Southern Darkness are very black metal — they are the element that most anchors this album to that genre. The production is also appropriately raw. Glorior Belli have chosen to focus on the strings in their sound first and foremost, with lead, rhythm and bass guitars all vacillating between complementary harmony and warring cacophony.
The sound often parts, battles, becomes noise and then reunites, displaying a very sophisticated technique. The Great Southern Darkness is the fourth good album from a consistent and exciting band. It’s composed with both intelligence and guts, and comes highly recommended....full text
PopmattersStanding at the Crossroads of Black Metal
French black metal bands have been serving up albums full to the brim with idiosyncratic experimentalism for many years now, with numerous outfits becoming notorious for incorporating eccentric influences into their works. Forget about subtly tinkering round the edges, bands such as Peste Noire, Blut Aus Nord, Deathspell Omega and Alcest have all taken unashamed and unorthodox steps to re-evaluate, and often transform, the parameters of black metal. With so many of them transcending the boundaries of their chosen genres, it seems like avant-garde has become an almost ubiquitous prefix for a vast array of French bands.
Paris-based Glorior Belli has certainly worked hard since its inception to redefine its aesthetic components. And if the term avant-garde defines a band that sets out some novel lines of demarcation, then Glorior Belli’s reconfiguring of black metal’s internal/infernal structure means they undoubtedly deserve the moniker. From the raging, raw ferocity of their 2005 debut, Ô Laudate Dominvs, to the widely acclaimed 2007 release, Manifesting the Raging Beast, right on through to 2009’s Meet Us at the Southern Sign, the band has been steadily resetting its compass, creeping exponentially towards the grimy magnificence to be found on its new album, The Great Southern Darkness.
Glorior Belli’s mix of rabid southern blues and sludgy darkened rock (all wrapped up in suitably occultist black metal hues) marks it out as a band that knows all about standing at the crossroads (both in metaphorical and artistic terms). Incorporating sludgy down-home elements into their sound is not a new move. Some fans were bewildered by the decidedly non-black-metal elements incorporated into Meet Us at the Southern Sign. But for all the challenges the band’s sonic preferences present to the more conservative black metal fan – and the new album is a lot more humid and swampy than frostbitten and austere – the bluesy direction, fuzzed-out amp tones and mid-tempo dirges are still unquestionably wicked. While the new album is packed full of swaggering hooks, it hasn’t lost any of the bitterness of the band’s earlier work.
‘‘Secret Ride to Rebellion’‘, with its fast tremolo work and ringing repetitive blues riff, is a great example of where the band sits these days. The track combines the enmity of black metal, the groove of southern gothic rock and a droning, buzzing outro. The band also makes great use of heavy ‘70s characteristics: ‘‘Negative Incarnate’’ has a brilliant guitar duelling section that is highly reminiscent of jam bands from that era, and ‘‘The Great Southern Darkness’‘, with its stripped back bluesy ambience, brings in some refreshing clean singing before the rolling riffs and dark lyrical themes collide. It’s possibly the most unconventional track on the album, but it’s also one of the best.
While the band has dug deeper into the quagmire of mystical asceticism on The Great Southern Darkness, check out the sober melancholic romp of “Horns in My Path” for proof of that it hasn’t forgotten its roots. “Per Nox Regna” and “Chaos Manifested” provide plenty more fundamentally inclined blackened kicks – as do all the songs to varying degrees – and although the album is stacked with vintage slices of American roots rock, it still retains, at its core, plenty of scorching riffs and blasting beats.
Glorior Belli’s newest release is uncompromising and unconventional. It provides all that crushing emotionality you want in a black metal release, but it evokes that spirit via an inventive sonic ritual. Over the course of four full-lengths, the band has progressively developed to become a more sophisticated musical entity, while conversely exploring the devolution of black metal’s heritage. With a captivating mix of bluesy, heavy stoner grooves, doom-laden lyricism, retro prog-rock flourishes and some thickly distorting sludge, the band has reaffirmed the diabolical principles of black metal while avoiding its most mind-numbing clichés.
The Great Southern Darkness is multidimensional, refreshingly inventive and evil as hell. Like the best avant-garde metal bands, Glorior Belli has taken its genre to new directions without sacrificing any sense of what made it a black metal band in the first place....full text
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