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On first listen I was kind of repulsed by this and thought it sounded terrible, but after giving it a couple more chances I’ve kind of warmed up to it a little bit and don’t mind having it in my collection anymore. It definitely has its moments, but it doesn’t make me enthusiastic to go check out another Glorior Belli album or anything. It’s worth a listen or two out of curiosity though, because it’s definitely something different…but not THAT different.
At first this just sounds like a hackneyed attempt to merge two disparate sounds together, but at the same time, sludgy “southern-style” riffs contrasted with black metal elements is actually a mix that goes pretty well together at the end of the day. The result is a sound that has a lot of groove while still retaining a certain amount of tension in some places. “Secret Ride to Rebellion” and “The Foolhardy Venturer” (despite the latter having off-sounding clean yells) merge the two quite evenly and those are two of the stronger tracks on the album, but for every song like those ones on The Great Southern Darkness there’s stretches of turgid grooving in others that do little to grab your attention. It’s not that I’m coming into this as a hater of all that bears any remote traces of Pantera or anything, I like a lot of sludgy and/or groovy stuff, but among the hodgepodge of styles Glorior Belli are attempting to pull off, "southern groove” just happens to be the one they suck the most at. These guys are pretty solid musicians and everything, but because the black metal tension lingers throughout the groovy riffs aren’t quite as punishing. It just leaves me wishing they picked a style and stuck to it.
Although this is billed as a hybrid of black metal and southern rock, even that doesn’t capture the full range of eclectic influences present. Both dissonant, orthodox black a la Deathspell Omega and Funeral Mist as well as more melodic styles of black metal come into the forefront of the riffs as far as black metal influences are concerned, the “southern” style comes out of sludge riffs both aggressive and lackadaisical, some being closer to the NeurIsis side of sludge than they are to Eyehategod. In addition, the title track sounds like a demented country rock ballad--complete with clean vocals and everything. Even with all the different styles swarming around in the music, however, this doesn’t really stick with you that much afterward. Sure, it’s somewhat interesting to hear styles that aren’t usually merged being played together, especially if you’re interested in some or all of those genres of music, but because the songwriting isn’t particularly bold or eccentric this just ends up sounds like it plagiarizes four different styles instead of one. If you wanna write something that really doesn’t sound like anything else, the way you structure your songs has to be pretty off-the-wall too. Glorior Belli write songs as competent songwriters should, but it also ends up coming off as somewhat comfortable and predictable. There’s not quite enough dynamic in the songs, as most of them feature more of a steady incline or decline in tension as opposed to a rollercoaster ride. Even the two curveball ballads on the album (the title track and the final track) are pretty expected when they roll around. They’re decent and necessary enough to round out the album, but it’s not like you don’t see them coming.
What prevents The Great Southern Darkness from being something I’m going to listen to very often is the fact that it doesn’t really advance beyond being a competent execution of a hypothetically cool idea. Even with the various changes in tempo and variety of styles influencing the riffs, the songs run around in circles. I can’t point to any particular element of the performance that can be individually scrutinized, but although the guitar stumbles upon a unique style, nothing else is really executed in an unusual manner. As everything tries to accommodate the strange riffs and cram it all into a concise, understandable package, the songs sound much more ordinary than the strange blend of styles would indicate. For all the farting around the songs do, they end in the same place they began. If you want to hear what sludgy southern riffs sound like next to orthodox black metal riffs, then check out The Great Southern Darkness, but I guarantee you’ll get little more than what you expect to get out of this album based on that description. This is a bold idea executed plainly.
I am always looking for innovation, which can be found even within a stiff genre like black metal. Usually, it is “style crossing” that provides the most significant artistic developments and dark metal is no exception. It is through experimentation that sub-genre like black n'roll, atmospheric black metal or black thrash are born. Well the next new feature will probably result of French Glorior Belli's work! This band music is based on an unlikely fusion between black metal and stoner rock. And it is The Great Southern Darkness (2011) album that formalizes the black stone birth!
Stoner rock is characterized by heavy and greasy shuffling rhythms, as if the musicians were crushed by moisture and heat. The sound is round, the coating is slack, and blues influence is evident. This music seems to be composed and performed under some sort of depressant (and other natural herbs). Fusing such a style with uncompromising black metal is not obvious, but this challenge is brilliantly met by J., band leader since its founding in 2002. From Dark Gnosis, which introduces the album, guitar chords leave no doubt as to the aesthetic choices made by Glorior Belli. It is heavy and oozing, giving the listener the impression of moving in a swamp on the outskirts of the Mississippi river. Secret Ride to Rebellion accelerates the tempo, but the underlying structure remains the same. The gravelly voice that accompanies the music even adds an extra dimension to the suffocating atmosphere developed by the group since the beginning of the disk. Some songs like They Call me the Black Devil and title track recall even more stoner music influences. At times I thought I was listening to Queens of the Stone Age or Kyuss (especially Blues for the Red Sun). It brought back my teenage years and all its excesses. Negative Incarnate and Bring Down the Cosmic Scheme are sounding more closer to regular black metal, while keeping an original structure and development. However, the album loses its breath from The Foolhardy Venturer, an average song, and Per Nox Regna, too slow and without the same cachet of other stoner songs. Chaos Manifested raises the bar a bit. Its central riff, sharp and fast, is supported by a strong rhythm, while Horns in my Pathway, which closes the record, is divided in two parts: stoner first, fast and aggressive black metal last. It epitomizes the talent of these French alchemists like no other.
Not all style crossing are successful. To achieve this, you need a mixture of folly and skills, qualities held by Glorior Belli. The Great Southern Darkness, whose title echoes Pantera’s The Great Southern Trendkill, may mark the birth of a new style that will probably be emulated. 7/10
Originally written for metalobscur.com
There have been many stories of musicians who sold their souls to the devil to gain fame or mastery of their craft. Italian violinists Giuseppe Tartini and Niccolò Paganini were said to have done so as far back as the 18th and 19th centuries, respectively. But the concept is more famously associated with blues musicians who met the devil at the crossroads, such as Tommy Johnson and Robert Johnson. Perhaps this has something to do with the popular idea that Satan was the one who invented music, or because the establishment wanted to villify music that frightened them. But in any case the archetype is ubiquitous. The concept was parodied by Metalocalypse and Tenacious D in the Pick of Destiny, and even referenced in the title to Black Sabbath's greatest hits compilation.
Perhaps naturally, metal grew out of the blues, with Sabbath beginning in the blues tradition. But somewhere along the line the older genre was excised, perhaps by Judas Priest. Glorior Belli have brought it back.
Combining black metal with the blues seems obvious in principle, given metal's historical connections and the dark associations of the music. However obvious in principle, blue metal presents technical problems. The music of the blues is mid-paced, bouncy, down-to-earth, and narrative in structure, while the music of black metal is played with a relentlessly flat beat, tremolo riffs, and a generally epic feel and structure.
Nonetheless, Glorior Belli have managed to incorporate blues chord progressions into a black metal framework, and most of it is successful. It makes for an interesting take on either genre.
The Verdict: Surely one of the most distinctive black metal releases of the year, The Great Southern Darkness is a worthwhile choice. No word on whether the devil gave them anything in return. I imagine it's tough to negotiate with him if you seem too eager to hand over your soul.
originally written for http://fullmetalattorney.blogspot.com/
Black metal and southern rock, eh? I'm no expert, but that sounds like mixing vanilla ice cream and Mountain Dew. Known for their universal boldness, French idealists Glorior Belli have established a network of wires running between both sub-genres throughout the appropriately titled "The Great Southern Darkness," and it's actually a very satisfying experience on both ends despite the initial alarm of an impractical assortment. Both identities are represented accurately and with diabolical precision, but Glorior Belli at least has the guff to simultaneously mix both themes at once throughout certain intervals, and the result is something totally unique, perplexing, or perhaps a trifle abstract. Either way, they've created a dashing display of imagination that expands beyond the basic clichés of mashing sounds.
As bold as it appears, it's actually a very infatuating postulate. The customary norm includes ricocheting, crunchy sequences bending between classic tremolo riffs and some slimily guitar work that sounds like it was flown in from a Louisiana swamp. They quickly show the listener just how versatile the experiment turned out through the shearing, atonal guitar wails of "Secret Ride Into Rebellion" and blackened onslaughts like "Bring Down the Cosmic Scheme." However, Glorior Belli is at full strength during the rock-laden title track and the bluesy stint of "Horns in My Pathway"; both show the group dominating the additional musical bloodlines with clean vocals and chameleonic skin, and to absolute excellence I might add. Some tunes are programmed to perform black metal and others keep the group's rock edge at the forefront, but the overall product is quite enjoyable regardless of Glorior Belli's esoteric direction.
The album's finest trait is, however, its impeccable production quality. All of Glorior Belli's properties shine in lights ranging from vicious and brutal to slithering and mysterious at whichever juncture they engage on the musical end, and whatever they're doing sounds bombastic and completely enthralling. Overall just another great record from a stellar band that's shifting black metal's trajectory against the northern winds and making obscure ideas in black metal seem comfortable and natural. For an album so weird, it seems calculated and calm, and I think that proves Glorior Belli knows just what in the hell they're doing even if it seems like they're diving off the deep end a bit. You'll go crazy for this if you enjoy the band (especially "Meet us at The Southern Sign") or just want something fresh, unprocessed, and youthfully jiving for what it is.
This review was written for: www.Thrashpit.com
I have never been a huge fan of black metal. While I do enjoy the genre very much, this past year was an off one in the BM department for me. Just when it seemed like no band could rekindle my interest in the genre- Glorior Belli (to pride yourself in time of war) released what is not only one of the best albums this year, but definitely the best black metal album of recent years. First off, black metal purist beware, this is not a straight up "kvlt" black metal album, that isn't to say there isn't a sickening amount of fury, darkness, and aggression present in The Great Southern Darkness.
The album kicks off with "Dark Genosis" a short aggressive piece that basically grabs the listener by collar and ask simply: "Are you ready for this?" Glorior use tempo changes masterfully to keep the short track from being just another black metal track. The next track, Secret Ride To Rebellion is essentially an extension of the first track. Glorior Belli show their true colors on the third track "They Call Me Black Devil" which is not only a goddammned awesome title but is one of the best songs of 2011. Glorior's southern influence is foremost prevalent in this track. Bluesy, groovy riffs are perfectly intertwined with the traditional tremolo riffs black metal is known for. The next two tracks "Negatuve Incarnate" and "Bring Down The Cosmic Scheme" both showcase Glorior's chief talents and novelties: heavy use of bluesy riffs, and a masterful use of alternating tempos and rhythmic structures. Both songs are fast as all hell and following these two perfect tracks comes an instrumental, definitely my favorite instrumental ever, the astonishingly fast, terrifyingly powerful "Chaos Manifested" a track that accomplishes just what it's name implies and then some. If not for this track the vocals would have definitely gotten a little tiring.
After the masterpiece that is "Chaos Manifested" the album takes an (unbelievable) even darker tone starting with the title track which is an instant classic in my opinion, more reminiscent of Southern Metal with a black metal influence than the first half of the album. This track is done in a moderately medium tempo which gives a heavy sort of quality. The powerful blues riffs take me back to the times spent in Arkansas doing southern things that southern people do(?). After this the album keeps itself fresh and very much alive and aggressive by alternating between it's more melodic Southern side and it's more chaotic style of black metal on tracks like "The Foolhardy Venture", "Per Nox Regna" and "The Science if Shifting" we hear Glorior Belli push themselves to the maximum in pursuit if the ultimate innovative listening experience. The album comes to a close with yet another song of the year candidate "Horns In My Pathway". The track is an ultimate blend Glorior's blindingly fast black metal style with their more medium tempo melodic southern style it's one of my favorite tracks EVER and the final 45 seconds of it are the perfect way to cap not only an album of the tear but the definite BM record this decade.
With The Great Southern Darkness, French curiosities Glorior Belli seem to have finally honed in their admixture of black metal and atonal, dissonant and adventurous rock to the intended edge. While it lacks some of the biting, acerbic treble of its predecessor Meet Us at the Southern Sign, and thus feels distinctly less 'black', it compensates with a more full-bodied production, rich guitars, curving bass and flexible drumming that give an earthen impression that you're sitting in a wooden room with the band, and that they're quite a solid block of musicians. Considering that the 11 as in Adversaries album The Intrepid Experience of Light was the originally intended fourth full-length from this lot, The Great Southern Darkness might not seem quite so experimental, but its still clearly left of center.
Glorior Belli don't go for an all-out sensual assault like their countrymen Deathspell Omega or an ambient sheen like Blut Aus Nord, but they nonetheless stand out among the French scene due to their willingness to embrace variation and influences that range from psychedelic rock to post-hardcore. Vocalist/guitarist 'J' can rasp alongside the best of them, but he in no way restricts himself to this realm, also performing a dreary clean vibe in the title track or "Horns in My Pathway" redolent of Monster Magnet's brooding stoner fix. There are still a number of pieces which fall directly within the black metal field, like the charging clamor of "Bring Down the Cosmic Scheme" or the desperate, double-bass driven tremolo breadth of "Negative Incarnate" or "The Science of Shifting", but I felt that the swerving, dissonant-tipped rock rhythms in "Secret Ride to Rebellion" or "They Called Me Black Devil" were just as exhilarating, or better yet, the junctions like "The Foolhardy Venturer" where both climes collide. The brooding, sludgy instrumentals like "Dark Gnosis" and "Per Nox Regna" are also solid.
As I might have hinted, the production is truly the star of this show. Few albums I've heard seem so organic and well balanced, allowances made for everything from the flowing bass lines to the ringing strummed guitars alongside the seething eruptions of chords. This is not necessarily a 'catchy' album, but more of an intricate, moody river that often accelerates when it strikes its emotional rapids, only later to restrain itself once more. Fleshy, innovative and remarkable rock & roll for something so nihilistic. But then, this is a band known for thinking somewhat outside the lines. Individual ingredients to their music might not feel so fresh or innovative, but when performed in tandem they feel streaming, cohesive and strangely shadowy. And you can't have an album called The Great Southern Darkness without this light-leeching quality. I'm not going to say that this is the best of their records yet, since I enjoyed Manifesting the Raging Beast quite a lot, but this is by far the most accessible and curious, without every feeling coy or trendy.