Gloria Morti - Kuebiko - (7/10)
Published on March 16, 2016
Formed in Finland in 1999, the longstanding act Gloria Morti has been releasing a steady output of full-lengths since 2004 (after a series of demos in the preceding years). After a four year absence however, the band is back with their latest maelstrom of blackened death metal in the form of Kuebiko, their first release via the 16 year old Willowtip Records label. Fans of the band will know more or less what to expect, with plenty of abrasive riffs and blast beats, with an ominous growl that could be the stuff of nightmares. While Gloria Morti is certainly a very capable act, this new release sadly seems to be a little above average and not exactly a classic of the genre.
One thing is for sure, and that is that Gloria Morti are more than capable at what they do. The musicianship is incredibly tight on this record, with the interplay of each instrument being pretty flawless, and the technicality in the guitar riffs and solos or the transitions of the drumming from blast beats to more restrained or groove oriented are quite impressive. The amount of changes in each track, while still keeping things compact in an average of about five minutes or so is no small task, and these five men are more than able to pull it off well. However, the music itself is also somewhat forgettable at times. There are some very great moments in the album, but there are plenty of tracks near the end that sadly seem to fall away to being more background than really keeping the listeners attention the whole way through. Part of it has to do with the slight mixing issue with the vocals. The growling vocals tend to be a bit monotonous as it is, and there seems to be an inconsistency with them and how audible they can be. At times they are very up front, and other times they get drowned out by the utter cacophony of the rest of the music. It can be off putting in that you never know exactly what to expect, in a more frustrating way than an excited one. A little more clarity and variety in the vocals would help a bit for sure in making this an album that stands out more above others.
Again though, the musicianship is quite impeccable, and aside form vocal issues, the remainder of the mixing and production is actually quite spot on. The little lead flourishes in the guitars get picked up very well, and each riff change is easily distinguished from others, and as mentioned before the drumming is among the best heard all year thus far. The drums add so much to the tracks, and really makes them feel as the make or break instrument, with the guitar and bass certainly playing a great role but almost being second fiddle. Again with the guitar work, the band utilizes a bit more of a bright sound as opposed to a totally crushing and suffocating one. The lead work adds some “light” to the pulverizing drums and monster vocals. It is quite a nice little contrast, but the juxtaposition is done so well as to add to a very complimentary sound. There is plenty of heaviness and pounding being added from the bass as well, and while it may not be a standout instrument by any means, you can feel the presence of the low end, and it does help the songs feel that much more full, really bringing home the uproarious nature Gloria Morti likes to offer.
By the time the final track ends, Kuebiko is an all together solid, if not definitive record. There is plenty to love about the musicianship, and the sharpness at which everything is played. However, there are plenty of songs that seem to sound to similar and aren’t able to really have their own sound or presence on the album. There are a few times where you can find yourself going from one track to another without knowing, but its due to the similarity in the song writing as opposed to just a seamless transition. However, the record is heavy as hell, and one that can be proudly added to any collection of head banging technical releases. Kuebiko though ultimately comes off as a record with some great aspects, and other pieces that really keep it from reaching the next level, and sadly puts a halt on a lot of the momentum tat gets worked up. Not skippable, but not something you’re likely to go back to over and over again.