Genus Ordinis Dei – Glare of Deliverance Review

Genus Ordinis Dei’s last platter, Great Olden Dynasty, was a surprisingly excellent piece of symphonic and melodic death metal. Italian metal is not usually known for its restraint, particularly with symphonics, but while the orchestral textures were as excessive as expected, the songwriting was tight and focused, and the versatile roar of vocalist Niccolò is a fantastic asset to the band. 3 years later, the band’s aspirations have grown. Glare of Deliverance is a concept album, and every song is intended to be accompanied by a music video, telling the tale of a young woman named Eleanor and her capture and interrogation by the Inquisition. Does such an ambitious concept translate into a more epic experience as well?

First of all, let me stipulate that 5 videos have been released at the time of writing, and each of them is shorter than its album counterpart. Which makes for an interesting experiment. Remember when Metallica’s Death Magnetic got a Guitar Hero release with a way better master, allowing for direct comparison between low and high dynamic range? This case allows to directly compare track length and whether less really is more. Turns out that, judging by the videos so far, it is. I assume the video versions are shortened edits of the full tracks on the album, but it often feels like the album versions are unnecessarily expanded recordings of the songs on the videos. The longer compositions don’t actually add much that’s not already in the shorter ones, merely restating ideas already present. At 71 minutes with a 16 minute closer, the threat of bloat was always present, and the direct comparison makes the issue more glaring.

But everything else that made Dynasty such a compelling album is still here in spades. Niccolò in particular is positively chameleonic, his throat operating on a spectrum from shout to growl to guttural hiss and dripping with personality. Nor have the Italians forgotten how to write a hook. Just listen to the epic orchestral riff that carries “Judgement,” or the pounding, horn-laden “Hunt.” The band’s formula remains indisputably strong. Listening to Glare of Deliverance is like having an epic historical movie poured down your ear canals, the music driven in a soundtrack-like manner by the underlying story, and the balance between the symphonic grandeur and the groove-laden, hard-hitting metal.

Because of this excellence in songwriting, the issue of bloat is not as impactful as it could have been. It makes the process of listening to the entire running time more tiring, that much is true. The somewhat dense mastering job doesn’t help in that regard either; how so many symphonic bands suffer from the downsides of this production choice I will never understand. But moment to moment, it’s easy to let yourself get dragged into the album’s flow. The variety of riffs and moods, the storytelling quality and the impeccable execution all conspire to keep you locked in a chamber of symphodeath goodness.

Genus Ordinis Dei is a bit of an odd one. It’s a band that’s excellent at conjuring epic imagery with thick walls of symphonic orchestration and heavy, groovy death metal, coupled with an excellent set of vocals and simple but addictive hooks. But whereas most bands going grand and epic benefit from slow builds and a more progressive attitude to song structure, Genus are at their strongest when they roll in, kick ass and thunder away. On their latest album, they don’t do that, and it results in the majority of tracks lingering too long. It is a case of a very solid album held back from something greater, however, not an album ruined entirely. The video series will, I think, result in the ultimate version of Glare of Deliverance. The album is a good, albeit overlong, companion piece.

Rating: 3.0/5.0
DR: 5 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Eclipse Records
Websites: |
Releases Worldwide: December 4th, 2020

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