Glorior Belli – Meet Us At the Southern Sign (Candlelight Records)

Saturday, 16th March 2013
Rating: 8.5/10

Anytime anyone deviates from the norm in black metal, you run the risk of it working or falling flat on its face. Black metal may forever be out of its fully-experimental phase that occurred earlier this decade, but we can take solace in knowing bands like France’s Glorior Belli are around to at least fuck with the template. With Meet Us At the Southern Sign, there’s a lot of off-putting rhythms, sideways melodies and the occasional nod to mid-90’s grunge. Yup – grunge.

Meet Us At the Southern Sign is the third full-length from the trio of Infestws, Alastor, and Morteaeus and it’s noticeable leap from 2007’s raw Manifesting the Raging Beast. Not to say Southern Sign isn’t raw in the traditional sense, but there’s this permeating uneasiness to the album, the sorta feeling one gets when listening to Shining or modern-day Mayhem.

It’s no surprise the band does trad BM quite well on “The Forbidden Words” and “Nox Illuminato Mea,” both of which utilize your basic BM elements (blasts, feisty tremolo picking, etc.), yet it’s starting to appear that particular approach is now out of Glorior Belli’s comfort zone. We’re turn to “Swamp That Shame,” which opens grand, spacious chords or “In Every-Grief Stricken Blues,” which is where we made the earlier nod to 90’s grunge. Actually, this tune reads more like a black metal “Planet Caravan,” if that could be fathomed.

Depth, depth, and more depth is probably the prevailing sentiment here. There’s lots to digest during this 11-song, 50-minute affair, but the bulk of these songs are palpable, but challenging, an odd counter-balance from one of the scene’s most unconventional bands. Meet Us At the Southern Sign is a total black metal darkhorse for 2009 if there ever was one. Get this.

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