Throwing around genre combinations with black metal is all the rage today. From the gospel black metal of Zeal & Ardor to the countless avant-garde bands claiming black metal pedigree, the genre seems to be the suffix du jour for the metal community. Naturally, backlash is building towards this tendency, with purists demanding to see extensive influences in these creations before they “approve” (even if only to themselves) of the different branchings and permutations of the “esteemed” black metal genre. However, the influences which sometimes inform these descriptors don’t always have to be overt; black metal spliced with different genres doesn’t have to have blatant markings of intermingling. Sometimes, like in Glorior Belli‘s case, the crux lies in the tone.

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In 2016, the aforementioned band released Sundown (The Flock That Welcomes), an album firmly rooted in black metal. It features haunting vocals, furious blastbeats, tremolo picked guitars and an overall aesthetic of grand art and gesture (from the track names to the album art). Those in doubt can simply listen to the title track; hear the expert cymbals echoing above the blastbeats and listen for the riff-after-tremolo-picked-riffs that fill up the track. However, the album also includes a different type of influence, namely blues. It is most dominant not in the few calmer tracks on the album (like the aptly named “Rebels in Disguise”) but mostly in the tone of the guitars.

That tone, on “Thrall of Illusions” for example, lends the album a deeper, more sludge-y feel. But that feeling isn’t rooted in fuzz or feedback; instead, the guitars simply resound deeper, with a blues inspired twang that changes the entire timbre of the album. Even on the title track, especially as it begins to approach its end, you can hear the difference in tone, in how full and resounding the guitar lines which work underneath the main lines are. Throw in a break for an operatic segment and many other games with the formula (including influences from doom metal), and you get a quite fascinating album which proves that experimentation with black metal can bring subtle and yet robust changes to what black metal can do.

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