A very important rule when approaching the music from Paris band Glorior Belli for the first time is make no opinions until having listened to them for numerous times. That applies to most bands to some extent with a true and rounded view of a release not truly achieved until having heard it enough times to find the less obvious nuances, treasures and flaws within. With Glorior Belli it applies very much so, their blend of southern rock grooves and guitars melded into a black metal doom laced field is a distinct and at first bewildering sound. On first listen there is more than enough intrigue to keep with it again and again, and the result is the discovery of a smart and openly different sound that has so much more in quality and satisfaction to offer than initially thought. For some it will hit a note instantly but for others the extra work needed is far exceeded by the resulting pleasure.
Glorior Belli consisting of duo J (guitar/vocals) and G (drums) began late 2002 garnering attention and notoriety within their homeland with their black metal brutal sounds and the releases of a demo and two albums up to 2007. A third album, Meet Us At The Southern Sign released 2009 via Candlelight Records, was the point more people really took notice of the band’s “blend of Desert-Rock textures with the brutal, ominous, doom-laden vibe typical of Black Metal.” Having signed with Metal Blade Records the band’s fourth album The Great Southern Darkness is released late September to further impress, recruit and probably confuse more and more people. Confusion is good if hand in hand with intrigue and more than a dose of engagement and that is certainly the case with The Great Southern Darkness.
Opening track ‘Dark Gnosis’ stands proud and tall boasting deep veins of heavy riffs and throbbing bass lines courted with sonically melodious scythes of guitar. Unrepentant it drives at the senses and though brief it sets up the powerful following bestial ‘Secret Ride to Rebellion’. This track overwhelms with as much dirty eagerness as its predecessor but an even blacker heart. The guttural growls backed by the throbbing menace of the bass and the incisive and hard drums bring an oppressive sound permeated with more razor sharp and repetitive guitars.
‘They Call Me Black Devil’ is the first track to offer a more distinct hard rock guitar sound on the album. Still a dark centred intense song it carries a danger like a mutated beast drenched in the black arts whilst soaked in a still of Mondo Generator and at times QOTSA with the striving guitar sounds that call out from within the shadows of the song. A one dimensional flavour to a genre can be fine but ultimately bore after a while, with Glorior Belli there is no fear of that happening within the song or indeed the whole album.
There are moments on the album that send tingles down the spine like the opening twang of ‘Negative Incarnate’ as it rumbles into a dark musical insanity, the wanton bedlam of ‘Bring Down The Cosmic Scheme’, and the unrelenting crescendo build of ‘Chaos Manifested’ an instrumental of unstoppable urgent energy. These already make the album something more than worth attention but with the added addition of the release’s best two tracks, ‘The Great Southern Darkness’ and ‘The Foolhardy Venturer’ it becomes an essential listen.
The first strolls in with a blues touch and muzzled clean vocals on a mid pace attack before opening up into J’s gravelling tones alongside great hard rock forceful sounds all coated in a dark vibe. The latter of the two and probably the superior is a hell spawn offspring of death sludge grooves and a roving bass looking to corrupt more than the ear. An additive guitar hook over hazardous riffs makes the song a masterclass in making challenging and equally rewarding music.
For many The Great Southern Darkness will ask for more attention and effort than other more instantly accessible and possibly less rewarding releases but go for it, the result as found out here is an album that stirs up and connects with the emotions in a most gratifying way.