Band: Glorior Belli
Album: The Apostates
Label: Season of Mist
Genre: Black Metal/ Southern Sludge
Release Date: 06 April, 2018
Black metal can be an overly formulaic, and in some people’s eyes, cliche genre. It is rare that bands deviate from the mean, and doing so can come with a lot of criticism. Glorior Belli, the brainchild of Billy Bayou, has never been shy to take their black metal roots and mix them with sludge and southern rock. The aptly-titled”The Apostates” is Glorior Belli’s seventh album release, and they continue to challenge the (un)holy formula of black metal. If you are part of the trve kvlt there is nothing to fear; the tremolo picking and blast beats are still there, but there is much more than that to this album.
The first thing that stood out to me on this album was the production. There is a light fuzz to the whole album that gives off a bleak and doomy atmosphere. The fuzz however, does not detract from the clarity. You can still easily distinguish each instrument and what they are doing. The bass is crawling through the background of each song and keeps you entranced. The vocals are extremely harsh and raw throughout most of the record, but there are some very tastefully done clean vocals on a few tracks. The track “Runaway Charley” for example has an earworm of a chorus that sounds straight out of a Mastodon, or Baroness record. The drums are the only sound I have a slight problem with, they are a little tinny for my taste and lacking a heavy punch throughout the album.
The second song on the album “Deserters of Eden” has a very familiar black metal sound to it. There is a lot of fast strumming over top the dizzying blast beats. The end of the song however, delves into an almost melodic death metal style guitar solo. A little jarring? On first listen maybe, but I think it fit oddly well that leads into a fist-pumping outro. Small additions like these to what would otherwise be a solid, yet standard, black metal song are what keep me coming back to the songs on this album.
The titular track off the album “The Apostates” is the standout song off this album. It begins with an atmospheric lead that was reminiscent of L’enfent Sauvage era Gojira (Their French brethren!). We are then greeted by some solid heavy blues-rock riffage, the kind of stuff that is impossible not to headbang to. The chord and song progression invokes an Opeth vibe from me, just in how smooth and natural the riffs sound throughout the composition.
The second single to get an early release from Glorior Belli is titled “Split Tongues Won’t Atone” which gave me a heavy “blackgaze” feeling that I loved. Again beginning slow to lull you into the track before hitting you hard with a fast southern rock style riff. Once the first chorus ends we get into the blackgaze portion of the track. This was another courageous but expertly executed tactic by Glorior Belli. Blackgaze isn’t the most heralded genre in the metal community, but Belli have found a way to incorporate it well because they are fantastic composers.
As I mentioned above, there are also some clean vocals sprinkled on to a few tracks on this album. The vocals have a very rough but soothing sludge rock sound to them that would seem wrong on paper, but doesn’t make me bat an eye in the execution. The final track “Rebel Reveries” has an anthemic chorus that I’m sure will get screamed by crowds at their upcoming shows.
Glorior Belli has been creating their own niche of black metal for years, but on their latest album I think they have created their most accomplished album.The adaptations to black metal that these French metal heads pull off on this album are nothing short of spectacular. While there will be criticisms from the elite old school fans of black metal, I find it very hard to find anything wrong with this album other than a few minor personal quibbles. This is another strong outing from both Glorior Belli and Season of Mist.
1. Sui Generis
2. Deserters of Eden
3. The Apostates
4. Bedlam Bedamned
5. Hangin’ Crepe
6. Jerkwater Redemption
7. Split Tongues Won’t Atone
8. Runaway Charley
9. Rebel Reveries
Total Playing Time: 47:27
I’m pretty great. Just ask me, I’ll tell ya.