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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