To observe Glorior Belli's album "The Great Southern Darkness" objectively is to examine what seems like a collection of unaffiliated styles and locales. Bubbling up from the outskirts of Paris, the band carries a blend of extreme metal, black metal and late 90's-bred desert rock.
Beginning with "Secret Ride to Rebellion," Glorior Belli displays a blobby amalgam of the three different styles. The veneer of desert guitar tones adds a uniqueness to both the song and the album without which it would be largely generic. So even in instances where the daring alloy of music isn't entirely homogenous, the high-pitched, clear guitar tones stand out as the band's signature.
"The Great Southern Darkness" is an album that thrives on discord and ill-harmony. It is an out-of-balance affair that represents the uneasy and hostile tendencies of the assorted genres that it represents. The problem that arises is that the band is far too content to let that unease be the album's sole governing force. Brash, clunky snare drums ride tracks from beginning to end, regardless of the other cadences are work.
"Negative Incarnate" is the track that falls victim to this tendency the most. The cut starts with an ominous, brooding guitar riff, and even makes good at the end with a quality solo. In the middle though, the song's potential gets swallowed by the sludge of extreme metal around it.
The album does find time for a couple nice touches, as "Par Nox Regna" is a doom-laden, nihilistic instrumental and the title cut evokes the kind of dark, dour desert ballad that befits the album's scheme.
Still, despite all the interesting pieces, "The Great Southern Darkness" doesn't transcend the marginally disposable paradigm of so many European extreme or black metal bands. There are far too many similar cuts and the elements don't always blend in new or exciting ways. The album often sounds bogged-down in its own ideal and can't or won't display more than a modicum of variety (the title track being the exception.)
If extreme or black metal is really your flavor and you're looking for an album that experiments with a curious twist, give Glorior Belli a shot. Other than that, this album doesn't quite meter out the way it could have.