Company: Southern Lord Release: 2007 Reviewer: Etiam
A strong, respectable black metal effort
Given Southern Lord's checkered past in signing black metal acts, it was difficult to approach Glorior Belli's 'Manifesting The Raging Beast' without skepticism. On the other hand, they are riding the extremely successful wave of modern French black metal, which is reason enough for many fans to give them a chance and ignore their label's track record altogether. Southern Lord were no doubt aware of this, too, and in releasing 'Manifesting The Raging Beast' would have had met with passing success, at least, regardless of the material's actual quality. Fortunately, this album proves to be more than bandwagon fare and is a commendable sophomore outing, without stepping entirely from the shadow of its peers.
From the outset, it is immediately apparent that Glorior Belli have a natural knack for atmosphere. Full, dissonant chords with relatively few prominent lead melodies, spacious production, and an austere, reverent performance imbue these eight tracks with the unsettling sense of sanctity so characteristic of the French scene.
Hardly a one-note effort, though, 'Manifesting...' does break from its country's standard mold in a number of respects. This is particularly evident on tracks like 'Severed From The Self', where the mid-tempo riffing takes on hints of groove reminiscent of Sweden's Craft. On many other songs, it also seems that Infestuus has taken quite a bit of inspiration from Finland's Clandestine Blaze, without delving too deeply into lo-fi monotony. Infestuus's voice has a guttural timbre comparable to Mikko Aspa's, the riffing is similarly dense, and 'Deadly Sparks' even includes the lyric, 'I am a...clandestine flame'. A tenuous connection, perhaps, but one nonetheless.
Although they are highly reminiscent of the aforementioned groups--among others--these comparisons are all favorable, and no single influence is too overpowering. From its surprisingly sophisticated lyrics (metaphysical Satanism--what else) to its thorough songwriting and execution, 'Manifesting The Raging Beast' is committed to retaining an individual identity throughout. Admittedly, the latter portion of the album drags a little as a consequence and includes a highly questionable guest solo in 'Altered Verses', but the effort at originality speaks better for the band's credibility than the safe path of derivation would have. Besides, the strength of the remainder is such that we can chalk up these shortcomings to a growing process. Delivering forty solid minutes of carefully rendered, blaspheming paeans, 'Manifesting The Raging Beast' is a strong, respectable effort.
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