Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Instead, Meet Us in 2005...

Release: 'Meet Us at the Southern Sign' (2009)

Progression is often a grey area within black metal: too much can be as crippling and off-putting as too little. Famously, this argument rages within the ever-divisive DARKTHRONE debate. Has a clearly seminal band turned its back on legions of fans and aspiring imitators and contemptuously morphed itself into a blackened heavy metal/punk outfit wagging a stiff middle finger in the face of all they once stood for?

Some would argue that DARKTHRONE have never changed and that punk elements can be found in their earliest offerings as a black metal band, and they’d be right, but is it their attitude, rather, that divides people.

As such, it is the waft of progression and its (de)merits that hovers around the ridiculously titled 'Meet Us At The Southern Sign' from GLORIOR BELLI, a clearly talented member of the contemporary French BM troupe and consequently, proof that talent is sometimes wasted, or at least misused.

Unleashing filthy, serious and memorable black metal on their debut full-length, 'Ô Laudate Dominvs', GLORIOR BELLI appeared agleam, like a French version of WATAIN, musically, lyrically and aesthetically. This was facsimile done correctly, for once. 2007’s follow-up, 'Manifesting the Raging Beast', stuck to the formula found on 'Ô Laudate…' but added a little “developmental” polish, all expected for a second, and possibly more comfortable, full-length.

'Meet Us…' continues the sound forged on 'Manifesting…' with obvious hints of OBSCURUS ADVOCAM, but quickly strays into unfamiliar territory that is simultaneously perplexing and strangely interesting. The incorporation of bluesy undertones, a shouted, “clean” vocal style (as opposed to the typical black metal rasp), instrumental sections and welcome tempo mixtures apparently herald a completely different direction for this band.

The track, “In Every Grief-Stricken Blues”, even wields a definite DOWN feel with vocals akin to a mixture of Phil Anselmo and Ozzy Osbourne in its opening moments. Perhaps revealed by its title, there is an overall “southern” vibe to the album’s proceedings.

Production quality is crisp and defined and while it is a richly layered and textured release, there is an overall limp sterility to it. When blues experimentation ceases, the more typical black metal tracks found on this record are sorely lacking when compared to what the band is clearly capable of, as demonstrated by their two preceding full-lengths. In fact, the actual black metal tracks presented here seem like scraps from the table of 'Manifesting…' - fillers that never quite made it.

Rating: 50%

Originally uploaded under the username 'torchia' to, 5 July, 2009.


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