Manifesting The Raging Beast
posted on 11/2007 By:
French and great are becoming synonyms when it comes to talking about black metal. Recent years have shown the French scene more than fit to put out an interesting and varied - if not downright revolutionary - take on the sub-genre. Consider the post-millennium output from Antaeus, Merrimack, Peste Noire, Amesoeurs, Blut Aus Nord, and Deathspell Omega. Now, with their sophomore effort Manifesting the Raging Beast, you can safely count Glorior Belli among the upper echelon of their black metal compatriots.
What makes this album so great is its subtle toying with black metal norms. It doesn’t stray from the usual black metal template in ways that, say, Blut Aus Nord do. The formula here is mostly tried and true, black metal aggression through and through. The songs aren’t too long or too short, and the structures are relatively straightforward. And yet, without pretension, Manifesting the Raging Beast separates itself from the no-frills purist pack and finds an identity in sludgy, almost catchy riffs and an impressive sense of melody. It’s a bit like the sound Watain sought in this year’s Sworn to the Dark, but more effective.
The one criticism I could bring to the table is that the band too often falls into a pattern of writing songs that start off fast and then slowly fade out and slow down. It gets predictable, and the majority of the tracks here fit this bill. But while it’s noticeable, it’s no major strike against the effect. So the songwriting stands strong because, formulaic or not, the songs just plain work.
“Deadly Sparks” is a fine example because it’s also an excellent track, and one of the album's highlights. There’s this recurrent melody that sticks its head out from the grime, ultimately surfacing in the climax of the song before carrying the tune out in typical fade-out fashion. Though the melody is hard to miss in this and many of the other songs, it’s never heavy-handed and it’s never over-the-top. This is not melodic black metal. Far from it. These songs are slow-burners in lots of ways, and getting a handle on the melodic movements takes some digging, as they weave and crawl with the buzzing guitars under Infestvvs’ torn rasps and the cymbals crashing all around. In many ways, you can hear a sort of Deathspell Omega-ian dissonance playing a role here, turning songs like “Severed From the Self”, the title track, and especially the amazing “Said Lucifer in Twilight”, however overwhelmingly jarring at first listen, into beautiful forays of minor key melody-making with a sludgy overtone that puts the cherry on top, erasing any notion of a sterile, derivative sound. The lyrics in “Altered Visions” seem self-aware: “Vast forms, that move absurdly to a discordant melody.” (References can also be drawn to Deathspell Omega vis-à-vis Glorior Belli’s seeming lyrical preoccupation with metaphysical Satanism). Also worth mentioning are the last two minutes of the album, in “Altered Visions”, where the send-off is - brace yourselves - a searing, nearly righteous guitar solo. Magnifique.
Similarly magnifique is the production, and not only when compared to other black metal production jobs; it fits the sound like a glove, though I wouldn’t mind if the sound were even a little dirtier, still. I think it could make the grimy, sludgy aspect stand out all the more and add further character to the tunes.
It may not come as a surprise that Glorior Belli is plugged into the French scene in more ways than location. The bassist, Dispater, also plays for Merrimack and you may have heard Infestvvs’ work earlier this year in the great debut from Obscurus Advocam. Manifesting the Raging Beast is an excellent black metal record, worth your time, and worthy to sit on your shelf alongside the other fantastic metal albums - French or otherwise - of 2007.
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