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Glorior Belli's music has polarization written all over it. Can't say there are many folks who'd dive blindly into country-fried black metal and come out feeling not the least bit shocked with the merger of crisp, bluesy whips and the band's punishing distortion and hellish vocals. So goes the tale of "Gators Rumble, Chaos Unfurls," the next logical step in Glorior Belli's journey from the cold mountains of black metal to roaring southern rock stripped right from the bayou. The pendulum is strongly favoring the swampy end of the spectrum; the group has abandoned much of the black metal flavor for crawling riffs and the lead guitar model common in the world of southern rock/metal. That's a big reason why this album lacks the intrigue and power of "The Great Southern Darkness"—it's more quotidian, less pioneering.
I enjoy "The Great Southern Darkness" quite a lot, so obviously I have no problem with what "Gators Rumble, Chaos Unfurls" attempts. I think it's an excellent idea, and Glorior Belli demonstrated that they could balance the tension between black metal and southern rock without fogging up the bite or attitude of both. The big elephants (or crocs) in the room are the inherited stylistic qualities, which, although manufactured in a fashion mirroring that of Glorior Belli's fourth full-length record, seem parched and cut-and-dried. This is due to the band further reducing the black metal elements and conditioning the southern trait into a larger role that, in turn, largely dominates this release, much unlike the smooth half-and-half blend of black metal and southern rock on "The Great Southern Darkness." It doesn’t work too well.
Glorior Belli isn't completely irrelevant here, but they've lost a vital sense of creativity. The band's southerly-influenced albums barring this one are great because they'd found a perfect harmony between bluesy beatings and blackened blasphemy. "Gators Rumble, Chaos Unfurls," however, vanquishes that equilibrium for forty-five minutes of Down-esque riffs and mid-paced lurches creased under harsh vocals with the occasional black metal touch appearing once every solar eclipse, and it works only moderately. The riffs aren't bad, but they are limited, and there's little dynamic depth within the stew as Glorior Belli often retraces itself or plods through uninteresting, sloppy rockers like "Built for Discomfort" or "Ain't No Pit Deep Enough."
The album's finer anthems show glimmers of the black metal flavor that'd been a key component to Glorior Belli's success throughout their superior records, namely "Wolves at My Door" and "I Asked for Wine, He Gave Me Blood." The common notion of "Gators Rumble, Chaos Unfurls" is that it is devoid of ideas: the record could've used a smoky rock number akin to the title track of "The Great Southern Darkness," or an extra dose of the black metal ingredient that never truly emerges. "Gators Rumble, Chaos Unfurls" is humdrum work that slithers somewhere between the passable and the mediocre. It occasionally provides a tune greater than the sum of its parts, but the whole package generally leaves the local yokels feeling disappointed, like a Sunday without a case of Busch Light.
This review was written for: www.Thrashpit.com
Quite why after delivering a minor masterpiece of French Orthodox Black Metal in 2007, namely Manifest The Raging Beast, Glorior Belli decided to change tact in 2009 and create a hybrid sound by flavouring Black Metal traditionalism with NOLA Sludge and other “southern” sprinklings is still a bit of a mystery. 4 years on though “The South” rises again in Glorior Belli's sound for a third time, now as more of a solo project of J./Infestvvs with hired hands after his former bandmates departed for more traditional acts like Temple Of Baal and Osculum Infame. This is also Glorior Belli's 5th label in 5 albums having gone from Eerie Art, to Southern Lord, to Candlelight, to Metal Blade and now back to the underground with Agonia. To me this label-hopping immediately posies the question of are they just flogging a dead horse, or instead flogging a horse that never really existed?
Compared to 2009's Meet Us At The Southern Sign at least Glorior Belli can boast that this hybrid style is achieved more cohesively than before. That improvement began to be made on the follow up The Great Southern Darkness in 2011, but here aside from a few awkward and jarring moments on opener “Blackpowder Roars” and the disrhythmic “Built For Discomfort” everything is blended more smoothly- kind of like a musical equivalent to one of those expensive “reserve” Jack Daniels with the honey or apple mixed through them. It would almost be inoffensive if the idea of the hybrid style wasn't so awkward and nonsensical to begin with.
This isn't just Black Metal elitism talking here either, as I dare say serious practitioners and fans of the other side of Glorior Belli's musical chemistry equation would feel exactly the same way. The likenesses to Down and Leather Nun America are obvious, but the execution feels so contrived, understandably so given that these guys are from Paris France, not Paris Tennessee. It's the exact same feeling of confusion that would be created by good ol' southern boys suddenly donning corpse paint and trying to play cold Norwegian Black Metal. As for the idea of mixing the two, should the fact that even the Arch-Bro himself Phil Anselmo never attempted this in all his own flirtations with mediocre Black Metal not be telling? The proof of this is in the pudding on this album- Glorior Belli never manage to lose that forced feeling and sounding loose and genuine when plying the smoky, bluesy half of this album, and aside from the first minute or so of “I Asked For Wine, He Gave Me Blood” it has the knock-on effect of sucking any energy out of the moments of Black Metal orthodoxy as well.
Individually neither of these elements are Glorior Belli's strong point, but as was said before at least thanks to the production and songwriting they blend together more smoothly than when this experiment first started. The other change from the third album to the fourth was toning down of the southern-themed song titles, but here they are back with a vengeance and even more bizarre and laughable as before. How are you supposed to take seriously a song called “Ain't No Pit Deep Enough” by someone who would never use the word “ain't” in their English dialect, or “Le Blackout Blues”, “Backwoods Bayou” or that title track by someone who has probably never seen a bayou or an alligator in their life before? Yes, New Orleans has French heritage, but unless you are Creole yourself this sort of stuff has about as much authenticity as a Guatemalan band singing about vikings. Metal hipsters will probably love this and claim that Black Metal only has any kind of relevance when engaging in this sort of stuff, but now that they are no longer on a label with as much reach into those circles as before their chances of pulling in those sorts is much reduced. 3 albums in and their creative experiment has failed to be taken seriously, leading Glorior Belli to ramp up the southern factor even more, making themselves an even bigger laughing stock in the process.
You might say that none of this matters as long as the music is good, but with the fact they do not excel at their Sludge pretensions and those nullify what little power their Black Metal moments still hold, and the overall awkwardness of mixing the two (best demonstrated by the awful breakdown section to “From One Rebel To Another”) I struggle to find anything to qualify as “good” on here. Even ignoring the above factors this album still is plagued by shoddy songwriting as over half the tracks meander out without going anywhere. The structural boredom problem seems to come from the fact these songs lack solos, most of which seemed to have been saved up for the Black Label Society-style intro to closing song “Gators Rumble, Chaos Unfurls.” Infestvvs had a masterstroke with Manifest The Raging Beast all those 6 years ago, but since then it seems he is a creatively spent force, and no amount of attempts to sound like he was born in a swamp are going to disguise that fact. [3/10]
From WAR ON ALL FRONTS A.D. 2013 zine- www.facebook.com/waronallfronts
I’d like to see myself as a rather open-minded person considering music. When I’m searching for and listening to some new bands and artists, I prefer to give my attention to those who have something fresh and original in their music. For example, even though the debut album of Impaled Nazarene is a masterpiece, there is no point in making a replica of it. Why reinvent the wheel when you can craft something of your own?
That being said, everything has its limits. Some borders are not meant to be crossed, and some musical genres are not meant to be mixed together.
The name Glorior Belli was somewhat familiar to me before listening to Gators Rumble, Chaos Unfurls, so I really didn’t know for sure what to expect. But upon hearing that their newer material should be a mixture of black metal, stoner and southern rock – all of which I highly enjoy – a shadow of skepticism started creeping up my back; can this ever work properly throughout a full-length release? So, for the sake of open-mindedness, I decided to give this album a fair chance to prove my preconception wrong.
This time I was only fifty percent right; the album is not total crap, but it’s not really good either. It’s rather confusing and oddly piled up, made up of components that refuse to work together, yet at the same time, even when you tear the pieces apart, you notice it’s all kind of boring and predictable. The black metal-influenced parts have been heard so many times before that you can nearly always guess exactly how they are going to end or what note is coming next. And with the stoner/southern rock passages, the problem is precisely the same, although some riffs do have a pretty nice and fluent groove going on. It sounds like composer Billy Bayou can’t decide what kind of music he wants to go after, so he tries to grab ingredients from all his favorite genres and concoct something far beyond his reach.
The best this album has to offer are the lyrics, which clearly have more idea and identity than the music itself. The spirit of orthodox/religious black metal shines through, and they’re actually quite interesting to read, which is an achievement in itself nowadays in a sub-genre suffering from substantial inflation. With this in mind, it’s kind of sad to admit that the vocals are almost ruining the atmosphere in the lyrics, as Billy sounds more like he’s recording a metalcore album. I honestly think that his voice isn’t suited for black metal, and even less so for stoner or southern rock! While not a bad vocalist at all, he just seems out of his element here.
Having now listened to Gators Rumble, Chaos Unfurls for perhaps the tenth time, I’m still not entirely sure what’s going on. Musically, I really can’t identify what Glorior Belli is trying to achieve, or why. Clearly Billy Bayou has skills and talent as a musician, but if only he could concentrate on one style at a time… In the end, could I really see him as a revered musical genius in the future, famous for his fluent fusion of multiple contrasting genres? Doubtful.
Originally written for Enslain webzine: http://enslain.net/blog/