Genre: Black Metal
Label: Season of Mist, Underground Activists
Glorior Belli had demonstrated their unique palette from their first records, but soon moved towards various musical ideas that had many fans in the black metal scene step back in distance, especially in the early 2010’s. “Gators Rumble, Chaos Unfurls” in 2013 embraced a more southern / stoner side and I thought this might have been the demise of the band, but then a burst of magnificence smacked me in the face with their most complete album to date, “Sundown (The Flock that Welcomes)” a couple of years ago. The band fancies the word “rebel” these years and they revel around that too, being that the latest album is called “The Apostates”, so all these clues might be connected when it comes to the ideology and the shift of the band.
Nevertheless, Glorior Belli are one of the interesting acts out of France and still, they have not faced stagnation yet, even though they have been through weaker moments in the past. So, 2018 brings us “The Apostates”, their seventh full album, which I got into with excitement, even though I know their previous release will most likely never be topped in my head, as it was plain perfect. The new record still maintains a fair black metal element, but also explores the more groovier parts of bands like Shining or Forgotten Tomb, while luxuriating sludgier lines from the Baroness / Mastodon family, built upon more clean vocals than ever before.
I think a huge advantage of Glorior Belli is that they haven’t given up their more extreme side completely, and the faster / heavier parts in “The Apostates” possess the same merit as what they are known for, from their earlier records. With that in mind, the record is equally balanced with melodies that would not bring black metal in mind right away, but that’s fine because Glorior Belli appear very focused, music wise. Fierce parts appear in “Bedlam Condemned”, “Split Tongues Won’t Atone” and “Deserters of Eden”, which have riffs from the heavier side of the band, but still the last track of these three, also has some rock-ish seconds in there.
On the other hand, some serious, filthy guitar lines appear in “Sui Generis”, which opens the record in a way very close to how Shining write their tracks. I found more similarities with them at the final track “Rebel Reveries”, a mellow, emotional track with clean vocals only, which brings in mind Kvarforth’s singing at a few moments. Further than that, I would pick “Hangin’ Crepe” as my favorite song off “The Apostates”, not because of its overall quality, but because I thought of its main riff as one of the sickest things I have heard these months. Combined with the semi-shouting vocals, the track is highly infectious. Glorior Belli have written more memorable lines around the record, which might fit the description of “black metal for non-black metallers” and it’s a good way to get into the band’s heavier works. I was attracted less to “Jerkwater Redemption” and “Runaway Charlie”, with the latter emphasizing the fact that in this album, Glorior Belli chose to close with two clean tracks not 100% into metal territories.
“The Apostates” has elements to appeal to a lot of people, and it hasn’t failed to present what the band wanted to deliver in the first place. The talent is obvious. I would not hesitate to call it a big success, but it isn’t a disaster for no reason, and they have managed to mix elements that all other black metal bands trying to do the same, have miserably failed to a laughable extent (hint: one of them mentioned before). In a sense, this more tender record might, at the same time, not work for fans of the more extreme sound, as we find the band taking, a very slight step towards a more universal sound outside of the underground. A slight step, but a step indeed.