Challenging, demanding and rewardingly impressive, the new album The Great Southern Darkness from French metalers Glorior Belli is a titan of a release. It is an album that takes the senses down dark and powerful roads with its black metal ferocity and enticing stoner grooves to leave one breathless and extremely satisfied. Luckily we had the opportunity to ask vocalist, guitarist and Glorior Belli founder Julien about The Great Southern Darkness and the band itself.
Hello and thank you for taking time to talk to The RingMaster Review.
Would you care to introduce yourselves and give a history to Glorior Belli?
Sure, do you have six hours or so? I mean, it’s been almost ten years now since I, Julien (formerly known as ‘Infestvvs’) started Glorior Belli. Basically the highlights in Glorior Belli’s history are the release dates of our records. The first and unique demo – Evil Archaic Order – was released in June 2004, followed by the first full-length album – Ô Lavdate Dominvs – in May 2005. I did those records with the “original” line-up, having Antares as drummer and friend. The sophomore album – Manifesting the Raging Beast – was released in June 2007 via Southern Lord Records. That was a major turn in Glorior Belli’s career. It’s like our best selling album ever. Latest offering – Meet Us At The Southern Sign – reached the surface in June 2009 via Candlelight Records. That was a major turn in Glorior Belli’s career but not for the same reasons this time. I guess I see it as a transition album now. Anyway, this brings us to – The Great Southern Darkness – in collaboration with Metal Blade Records. Now we really made our point and are considered to be one of the best if not the only, representative of a new sound. It’s simply the perfect blend of Stoner/Desert-Rock grooves with the brutal, ominous, doom-laden vibe typical of Black Metal.
How did the two of you meet and come to decide to work together as Glorior Belli?
I understand you are referring to Gionata and I. He wasn’t the original drummer at all; we only started our collaboration in early 2010. We met via a common friend and our first effort together was to record “The Full Intrepid Experience of Light”, which basically served as some kind of test for both of us and underlined the potential inherent in our cooperation. When I first met Antares in 2002 I was in my early 20′s and I still rehearse at the same studio than when it all started, only now that little Satan geek made his point.
Your early music was a more direct less varied black metal or you always had the distinct southern rock flavouring you have now in some degree?
We always had it in some degree yes. The reviews of our debut album already mentioned an “almost indie-rock quality to the melodies”, but it was less pronounced and primarily consisted of just a few riffs.
What are your influences that you would say in some small degree or more have shaped your sound’s evolution over the years?
David Eugene Edwards (16HP/Woven Hand), Mr Phil Anslemo (Pantera/Down), Immolation, Alice In Chains, Neurosis, Acid Bath, Kyuss, Slash, Dissection, Cursed, The Mars Volta, Unsane… for the most part.
The concept behind The Great Southern Darkness finds its origin in the Sumero-Babylonian mythology and the most significant aspects of the cult of the dragon Tiamat, in accordance to anti-cosmic Gnosticism. Besides that, it was the most suitable title as it reminds some of our Americana/Blues influences and in all due respect echoes to another record from one of my favourite bands, but that’s pretty easy to spot. A French guy rhyming in English and singing about the forces of the nightside, it can’t get any better. It’s really important for me that people understand the lyrics, as my ultimate goal is to give them the opportunity to forge the weapons of their own liberation, yet my words will confuse the weaker minds just like the fire of Lucifer can both illuminate and destroy. This is one of my favourite parts (taken from ‘Negative Incarnate’): “From behind the nervous curtains of my trembling cosmic prison, the dark Gods are firmly waiting filled with hatred for the cosmos; outside the frame of creation lies the darkest of all secrets, the magic of the queen dragon waits for us to crush the gates!”
How has the band and your sound progressed between The Great Southern Darkness and its 2009 predecessor Meet Us At The Southern Sign?
“Meet Us At The Southern Sign” is a damn good album and a fairly decent transition accentuating Glorior Belli’s commitment into becoming a beast of its own. There are definitely a couple of tracks that really stand out from the rest, personally I think the mixture was not yet fully mastered at this time but that album will always be the one that points out to our real departure from the hordes of occasionally limited artists. “The Great Southern Darkness” however, emphasizes the sound of Glorior Belli into a monolith of Southern Rock and Bluesy grooves mixed with the brutal, ominous, doom-laden vibe typical of Black Metal. Every instrument has found its place in the composition, the guitar work is even more sophisticated, the bass lines more intense, drums are alternatively beating from blast beats to rock patterns and make the whole rhythm section implacable. It’s just the logical continuation of what we started with Meet Us At The Southern Sign, but this time we achieved the perfect balance. When a band finds its own voice, in a sense that nobody else sounds like us now, you know what that means. “We’re taking over this town!”
Tell us about the songwriting progress between the two of you?
It actually has never changed. I’m the only one in charge of the composition, just used session people in the past for live purposes and mostly drummers in studio. So there’s no point here telling you how I randomly pick up my guitar and let the ideas flowing in as I play along some chords, it’s just something personal. I usually start with a concept and focus on a composition theme, record a demo of all the tracks and instruments and then send it over to my partner in crime. I think it’s a good method for us because it really makes consistent records.
How long did the album take to make from the first stages to the finished result?
The whole process took us about 6 months.
Did The Great Southern Darkness come out exactly as envisaged or it went beyond your hopes?
It’s hard to say since I haven’t been able to get some perspective yet. Probably a bit of both actually. There’s always something you want to change in the end, being a perfectionist, but at the same time it’s a fantastic album and turned out to be much more impressive than I expected when I first recorded a demo version.
How do you translate your music to a live setting, do you have a regular group of musicians you can call upon?
Until now we didn’t quite exactly get the best conditions to perform live, I mean logistically-wise it’s always a fucking struggle for us to figure out how to make the best out of it. Anyway, the line up is a bit different now with the new record and we have new equipments and stage accessories too, so I’m looking forward to new experiences.
What comes next for Glorior Belli with the album and beyond?
So far we have an Australian tour planned with our friends from ‘The House of Capricorn’ that should take place in early 2012 and a couple of shows in November booked in Belgium (Sint Niklas on November 5th), Holland (Tilburg on November 6th) and Germany on November 11th in Bad Oeynhausen and November 12th in Bitterfeld. We will make our first appearance on the Canadian soil in Montreal on November 25th. Production wise, we are currently working on new songs for a split with Nachtmystium.
The more and more common consensus is that the internet is a major factor amongst many for the ‘death’ of record sales etc, what are your views and if it is true is there a way back for artists in that area or simply the need to bring imaginative ideas to other aspects of their art to create the base for their continuation?
Tough one, “do you have six hours or so” – bis. It’s obvious that the situation is critical, but same rules apply for everyone out there. For instance our new record was already illegally downloadable a couple of days before the official release date and the only thought that you can express is that it could have been even worse. But I’m not exactly sure how we’ll be able to survive as a band if we can’t sell the new record properly. It’s not about making tons of money, people get the wrong impression, it all comes down to a very simple equation. You have a product, you sell that product to a distributor that believes in the project and invests money for the promotion. If you’re not even able to pay back that investment then you fail business wise. There are still more factors to take in consideration but when you download a record from your favourite you should realize that if you don’t buy it too you just poisoned your own river. Artists can always come up with new ideas that won’t make a big difference in the end, box-set or whatever only works for the big bands but smaller fishes still suffocate. We’re just left with die hard vinyl collectors and digital music.
A big thank you for sparing time to talk to us would you like to end with some last thoughts?
We will defeat and bring down the cosmic scheme! See you all Froggerz somewhere down the road.
The Great Southern Darkness is available now via Metal Blade Records
The Great Southern Darkness Review http://ringmasterreviewintroduces.wordpress.com/2011/09/22/glorior-belli-%E2%80%93-the-great-southern-darkness/