Archive for glorior belli

Maryland Deathfest XI Recap (Part III)

Posted in black metal, concerts, doom, england, festivals, france, germany, musings, stoner metal, united states with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 6, 2013 by blackmetallurgy

Part I (Friday) and Part II (Saturday) are both available for your perusal.

The lines outside of the festival Sunday provided another instance of the poor organization that seemed to plague the festival all weekend, or at least concerning entering and exiting the venue. We left the hotel a little after 2p because we wanted to see Glorior Belli at 3:30, and were hoping to mill around and buy merch beforehand. We waited over an hour in a huge line, all full of people there for re-entry. It was really frustrating. After about 45 minutes they opened a second line, and then things moved a little more swiftly. It actually worked out fine for us- we got there just in time to catch all of Glorior Belli’s set- but there were a lot of people really excited to see Speedwolf and Cruciamentum who missed them because of the line.

Glorior Belli’s set was really good; their later, more experimental bluesy black metal is sometimes hit or miss for me, although I do find it interesting. It was very good live, however, and even though I still got hints of their vocalist’s smugness during the set (which rubs me the wrong way a bit), he more than made up for it by climbing down in front of the stage and shaking people’s hands, giving hugs, etc. during the last song. They played a fine set, despite the fact that teatime is really not ideal for black metal.

Glorior Belli

Glorior Belli

IMAG0910

Next we caught a little bit of Midnight’s set while mingling and shopping. I have seen their shirts everywhere recently, but I haven’t ever really paid that much attention to them. They were a lot of fun, however (I LOVE the blackened thrash thing), and I found their executioner’s hoods endearing. Pagan Altar was our next big set, and I sat for part of it to rest my legs (that concrete is a bitch). They were fantastic and a fun throwback. It was really great to see that they are still doing so well; J said that Sabbath should fire Ozzy and hire Terry Jones instead.

[I didn’t get pics of them. Too short. Sorry.]

We shopped and ate during the next set, and then went to get in line for Sleep, who J was really excited about seeing. I was excited too, as I know what a big deal it is to see Sleep right now, but I would not have needed to be up front for it. There was, as expected, a LOT of smoke, which, by this point, was starting to wear on me a little (I don’t smoke, and although a lot of my friends do, three days of inhaling other people’s weed and cigarettes was beginning to make me a little crazy). Also, for some bizarre reason, people started shoving and actually getting kind of violent when the band started playing. Someone really ought to explain stoner metal to those kids. I had just bought a special edition double LP and had thought that during Sleep’s set I wouldn’t be hard pressed to protect it, but people in the crowd where we were standing were being really douchy and shoving, and I was just about at the end of my rope. Couple that with my frustrations over something that is neither here nor there (Internets, you don’t need to know about my personal life), and A dragged me to the back of the crowd before I fucking killed someone. Which is good. That would have been a real buzzkill.

So I saw Sleep, and I was so angry I barely digested any of it. I tried, once I was out of the crush, to focus really hard on enjoying it, however, and I really loved the parts of the set for which I was able to relax a little. I’m really grateful I got to see Sleep perform, and I wish it had been under a little better circumstances.

Sleep. Downtown Baltimore gets a contact high.

Sleep. Downtown Baltimore gets a contact high.

[Part of Dragonaut. But you can see, I think, why I was upset with the crowd.]

Matt Pike, incidentally, stayed in our hotel and glowered at me in the coffee shop.

Pentagram was up next, and their set was going fine. J and I didn’t stay for the whole thing, but A did and said that it was really good; Bobby Liebling was… standing and singing okay, and is in better shape, I would say, than Ozzy, but the heroin years have not been kind. J said he thought it was depressing, and I said that I was still a little pissy and wanted to watch a dude drenched in blood screaming to me about Satan, so we went to catch Ascension’s set across the way.

Pentagram.

Pentagram.

Am I glad we did. Ascension is from Germany, and I didn’t know that, nor did I know who they were at all, really. They were my diamond in the rough. Ascension is relatively new, and only has one album out, but they play really good black metal and are extremely charismatic onstage. We wandered over there in hopes for something that was going to be a little more lively than Pentagram (who I am still glad I watched a couple of songs of), and they were easily my best whim of the weekend. Maybe I should do a post for them?

Ascension

Ascension

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I liked their stage decor.

I liked their stage decor.

[Surprise! awesome black metal.]

As the night started to wind down, we went to hunt down a good place to watch Venom. Basically there was none; EVERYONE was there to see Venom (obviously). I did manage to get a spot on a curb though, where I could see Cronos well, and since he is the founding member who is left, that was the important part to me. I am amazed by how bulky he is; I always thought he was little but his biceps are tremendous! They played a mix of old and new stuff, but we got to hear Warhead and Black Metal and Live Like an Angel, which I guess is the best bit (although I had desperately hoped for Rip Ride. Sigh). Things were going fine and dandy right up until 11p sharp, when all of a sudden there was no sound.

Venom!

Venom!

Alright. So I couldn't see much other than Cronos, but he's the important part, right?

Alright. So I couldn’t see much other than Cronos, but he’s the important part, right?

Apparently there was a new city ordinance or something that said that the music had to stop at 11p, as in AT 11 seriously we aren’t kidding, and so they stopped it. (A told me later that Pentagram’s set was cut a little short too; I saw somewhere else that Sleep went over 20 minutes and that was what backed things up. I have no idea what happened. I was just watching Venom, minding my own business.) Either way, the crowd was incredibly upset, because Venom, and then there was a bottle neck in the gate on the way out (the fest is over. Open more gates), and then when we got to the front of the gate there was a scuffle, and some security dudes throwing some crust punk kid against the pavement, and screaming and yelling. I was running to the side to get away from… whatever was happening, and I kid you not, a beer bottle shattered about three feet from my head. So A, J, and I took off to get to the other side of the wall (so we could gawk at what was happening, of course), but a security guard told us to go away. And on the way back to the hotel, like 8 or 10 cop cars passed us, so it must have turned into quite the kerfluffle.

We made it back to the hotel safely, however, and drove back the next day. 24 hours. With me going 30 hours without sleep which, I learned, is something I should never, ever, do again (sleep deprivation makes me paranoid and weepy).

One more post of this, with more pictures and people and merch, and then I promise I’ll talk about Kylesa.

-Hagalaz

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“Said Lucifer in Twilight”: Themes and Variations on Traditional Black Metal (The French Black Metal Underground)

Posted in black metal, black metal history, france, underground with tags , , , , , , , on September 9, 2012 by blackmetallurgy

Why, hello there. This is where I have moved Merrimack, because they are not really raw black metal, and neither is Glorior Belli. However, both bands started out by playing very traditional black metal (blast beats ahoy) and then later morphed into their own sounds as they grew and matured as bands. I have also edited the past post about raw black metal to include Antaeus and Aosoth, since Aosoth’s early work really is more raw and they share as many qualities as they do members. You can find that updated post here, if you are so inclined: https://blackmetallurgy.wordpress.com/2012/08/31/words-as-weapons-raw-french-black-metal-part-i-the-french-black-metal-underground/

A few weeks ago, I did a special on Parisians Merrimack. Like Deathspell Omega, Merrimack began as a pretty traditional sounding black metal band. Interestingly enough, Merrimack did a split with a band called Hirilorn in 1998, some members of which would later form Deathspell Omega. Considering that both bands would later take a more unconventional approach to black metal, it’s an intriguing coincidence that some of the brightest minds from both bands played on a split together.

[I know I’ve posted this song on here previously, but Merrimack’s old stuff is surprisingly hard to track down on YouTube. This is true grit]

Their first full length album, Ashes of Purification, is a pretty standard representation of traditional black metal (in the French sense). The sound does not seek to imitate the Norwegian scene in that it is not fuzzy. It is not necessarily well-produced, but that is more likely due to a lack of available funds than a preference for low-fi production. Basslines are audible, and Merrimack (a reviewer once jokingly referred to them as “the most Swedish of the French bands”) plays a more melodic form of black metal, seemingly building more from the Swedish tradition than the Norwegian.

In 2006, Merrimack shifted direction sharply, taking on a more experimental sound. While this sound is certainly more exploratory than their older recordings, Merrimack never quite strays as far into atonality as Deathspell Omega has done. These later recordings actually seem to me to be more in the vein of Blut Aus Nord in their more straightforward moments.

Merrimack’s new album, The Acausal Mass, came out just in June of this year. It is fantastic, and it is clear that Merrimack has found their niche.

Glorior Belli recorded their demo in 2003, and have not been involved in any acts of bandcest with any of the other French bands I’ve discussed so far, which is kind of amazing. They too will be playing at Maryland Death fest next spring (yay). Unlike many of their fellow countrymen, Glorior Belli has only done one split and no EPs, focusing their energy into producing four full-length albums (and also another, which they released under a different name since it is not black metal. Encyclopedia Metallum labels it as “Avant-Garde Post-Hardcore.” Yeah, I don’t know what that means either).

[You can hear the same kind of riffing that DsO does in here, as well as also some influence from Sweden (I think)]

As you can hear, the melodies here seem to draw somewhat from the Swedish sound, but the French sound solidified by bands like Deathspell Omega and Blut Aus Nord are lurking under there as well. Whereas the Swedish melodic riffs tend to be more solo-ish, these simply lurk under the blast beats before surfacing in unexpected places.

Glorior Belli ripened into their own sound as their career has progressed. Their third and fourth albums in particular develop a sound unlike any other I have heard in black metal. On Meet Us At the Southern Sign they began to experiment some with blues riffs, which is really interesting. In his book Extreme Metal: Music and Culture on the Edge, Keith Kahn-Harris claims that the thing that separates extreme metal, black metal in particular, from other kinds of rock music is the complete lack of influence from genres like the blues and jazz. This probably arises from black metal’s roots in Europe as opposed to the United States, where such genres developed. Nevertheless, this is exactly what Glorior Belli is experimenting with here. The result is something that sounds a little like a bluesier version of Pantera with a black metal feel thrown in.

[Kids, I’ve listened to a lot of black metal and I ain’t never heard nothin’ like this]

I can see how people might not like it- it is a strange sound, and much more accessible than black metal traditionally is, so that may put people off. The clean vocals are also strange. Nevertheless, I’m intrigued by it. It’s some interesting stuff, and it’s fun to hear the glories of Satan sung to bluesy black metal. Glorior Belli’s last album, The Great Southern Darkness, experimented a little more thoroughly with these themes. Along with more blues attempts, there are a couple of instrumental tracks, and in some moments it seems to take influence from Nachtmystium. Glorior Belli, then, appears to be taking cues from the United States in the form of blues and Southern rock/metal, and in our own brand of black metal, which sounds pretty much nothing like anywhere else.

[You can really hear the bluesy feel here]

[As you can see, there is still black metal here, and some bluesy meandering around 1:46]

Glorior Belli still, however, is playing black metal. They may be trying to find their feet in weird experimental stuff, but they have not abandoned their roots. The more I listen to them the more excited I am to see them live. Should be a treat.

***

As you can see, I haven’t been forced to completely give up regular updates yet. My schedule is about to get quite a bit busier in the next couple of weeks, so I don’t know how often I will be able to update. I certainly won’t manage two big posts a week, though I may start doing smaller posts more often. I am also not done talking about French black metal. There’s still plenty to discuss.

But until then…

-Hagalaz