Glorior Belli

Manifesting the Raging Beast

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On their second full-length -- and their first for U.S. all things dark and nasty label Southern Lord -- France's Glorior Belli, whose members include participants in other projects such as Merrimack, Disiplin, Wolfe, and Obscurus Advocam unleash a tumultuous, brutal yet utterly magnetic barrage of raw black metal. In keeping with the French scene of the early 21st century, Belli experiments with black metal's form, but unlike their countrymen they remain firmly within it. The experimentation lies in dynamic and the wall of atmospheric attack that begins to unleash its own sense of fury and nihilistic blasphemy and total rage at all things "good" in the world soon thereafter. Certainly fans of this music will find nothing in the low-tuned guitars or bass pummel to complain about -- with the possible exception that they ring with monolithic distortion instead of buzz, perhaps, or the almost hilariously heretical lyrics or blastbeat drumming. All of that said, there isn't anything other than the Cookie Monster vocals that is generic. But this is black, hellish metal; make no mistake, and it's as fine an example as earlier Emperor recordings (though the two bands sound nothing alike). Over eight songs and 43 minutes, Glorior Belli establish their own tunnel of sonic attack and keep on coming, all the while drawing the listener in deeper and deeper with their very catchy harmonic and melodic sensibilities that leave no room for air, no room for escape. There isn't any turning this damned thing off once it's on the player. Guitarist and vocalist Infestvvs understands the first rule of early Killing Joke riff-dom (who, had they been born in the early '90s instead of the late '70s would have been considered a black metal band), and that's what he brings that's different: he plods, slows it down, gradually speeds it up and lets the drummer double- and triple-time everything while keeping the bassist static. The move time is off-kilter and walls off the listener, forcing him or her directly into wave after wave of guitar burn. Standout cuts include "From Darkness There Springs Light," "Said Lucifer in Twilight," and "Altered Verses."

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