Glorior Belli take their black metal into the swamp on ‘Gators Rumble, Chaos Unfurls’

glorior belliBlack metal certainly has grown beyond its initial campaign points, despite so many trying to hold down the genre and make it be about one particular sound. But there are not supposed to be rules when it comes to black metal, and chaos should be allowed to explode beyond its boundaries to keep things fresh and interesting, so why not keep expanding?

French maulers Glorior Belli never met a boundary to which they paid heed. They tend to shove them down, piss on them, and then set them ablaze, and they’ve been expanding their ideas ever since they entered the world in 2002. The band’s sound started off more conventional and aligned with original black metal ethos, but as time’s gone on, they’ve gotten, dirtier, more chaotic, and even bluesier. That’s right, these guys have immersed themselves pretty heavily in American-style blues, and if you didn’t know any better, you might think this band originated in the Deep South, where humidity and violence are part of the culture. They’re that convincing.

glorior belli coverWhile Glorior Belli have been moving in this direction for some time now (hints are smeared across 2009’s “Meet Us at the Southern Sign”), they really committed to the cause on 2011’s “The Great Southern Darkness,” that was put out by Metal Blade. Now with their fifth record “Gators Rumble, Chaos Unfurls” landing by way of Agonia Records, the band’s staying on that same, filthy, dusty path, proving this is their signature sound now and not just something they’re playing around with. Face it, longtime leader and founder J. Infestuus (or Billy Bayou, as he’s now known) and his band of heathens (guitarist Q, bassist S, and drummer JHM) are full-fledged bluesmen now, and the have found a way to mix their interest in the roots of metal into a modern black inferno and really make it work for them. This album rocks pretty hard in a traditional sense, meaning non-metal fans might even find some things that’ll hook them, but also maintains their sense of darkness and morbidity for which they’re known. They’re still black metal at their core.
The 11-track, 45-minute album kicks off with “Blackpowder Roars,” a lean track as far as run time goes as it’s under three minutes, but it gives you a good look at what’s ahead with bluesy melodies and even some clean vocals. “Wolves at My Door” erupts in its wake, with a pure black metal assault, but also some slick Southern blues licks intertwined and ugly, gritty vocals. When Infestuus howls, “Come on!” right before the band hits the song’s mid point, it’s him really fitting into those bluesman shoes. Pretty fun. “Ain’t No Pit Deep Enough” has a heaping helping of swampy guitars, really interesting lead lines that pack a wallop, and a soulful sense of rock and roll fun that makes this track stick to your ribs. “A Hoax, a Croc!” is slow moving and doom infested, and once it opens up a little more, it also infuses some power metal glory into the thing. The vocals are creaky and raw, but Infestuus also tries out his croon a little more, which works effectively. “From One Rebel to Another” is the one cut on here that doesn’t work as well as the rest. It’s not a terrible song, but it’s just missing something.

“I Asked for Wine, He Gave Me Blood” brings the emotions back to a heavy boil, with a blast of black metal chaos and savagery, nasty, punishing growls, and excellent guitar work. This is the heaviest, meanest track on the whole record, and it kills every time. “The South Will Always Know My Name” has a long instrumental opening that’s dizzying and slurry, but a good way through the song, it begins to chug and bruise, with monstrous vocals to boot. “Le BLackout Blues” is murky, muddy, and dark at first, but then the tempo kicks in and leads more toward pure rock terrain, not unlike Queens of the Stone Age. It’s damn catchy and one of the most spirited doses of fun on the album. “Backwoods Bayou” is a filthy and ominous instrumental, with sprawling guitar and spacious ambiance that’s creepy and slithering. “Built for Discomfort” has swaggering, attitudinal guitar work, a ton of crunch and madness, and the vocals practically spit evil intent. The closing title track is a great finale for this collection, with psychedelic-leaning melodies, creaky, spooky growls sprawling from Infestuus’ mouth, and a thunderous storm cutting a path toward the swamps, where gators are ready to strike, and insects ready to coat your body with wounds and disease.

Glorior Belli’s refusal to adhere to black metal’s template, combined with their hunger to answer their southern blues muse has resulted in some of the most rewarding music of their run and a really strong fifth record. This record could help bring rock and metal fans together under darker, more ominous banners, and Glorior Belli a much larger, hungrier base to feed on their hellish messages. If that all comes to pass, then mission accomplished.

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