Bands change. That’s just a fact of life. Especially when a band, such as Gloria Morti, have been around since 1999. Across their now symmetrical career, Gloria Morti have releases five demos and five full-lengths. The band has always been a sort of melodic death metal. But for their new release Kuebiko, the band drops the melody and goes all in on death. Influences (all the big ones) are apparent with Immolation, Suffocation, Incantation and a touch of Morbid Angel figuring hard in the mix. Ultimately, Kuebiko is an attempt at a new direction; a journey down a darker road than previously traveled. The album is, however, largely, a flat experience. Perhaps a bit more aggression, grime and sludge might be necessary for Gloria Morti to make the transition they were envisioning.
The Finnish death metallers took the Kuebiko as an opportunity to head off into greasier territory. Thematically, lyrically and ideologically the band attempts to take a side road in their career and mix it up. Said guitarist Juho Räihä:
“With Kuebikowe wanted to make a record that is hard hitting, both in lyrical themes as well as in songwriting. We also wanted to steer away from the sterile and lifeless sound heard in most modern metal albums released today. Kuebiko is definitely about making the listener feel something. Mostly disgust and anger. The lyrical themes range from Josef Fritzl to being buried alive. The main point is not to shock, but to make you feel the exhaustion of living in this time where you are just forced to stand there and watch the atrocities of the world. Kuebiko is an album that stands out from most of modern music and encapsulates what Gloria Morti is.”
Achieving that vision is another goal entirely. The band has gotten away from their odd, industrial lean. Particularly, they no longer have an eye for murder-gore and the like. Rather, the album does focus inward. The vocals affect an immolation style of depth and clarity which certainly reveals support of the above-referenced quote. The double bass slaps relentlessly as if the drummer Kauko Kuusisalo’s feet are Keanu Reeves in Speed: stop and you will die. The guitars, which attempt melodies akin to Bill Steer in Heartwork era Carcass, never fully make the leap. Unfortunately, the album is particularly one note. Much like many, many death metal releases, merely changing your lyrical style and/or delivery isn’t enough to drastically alter a band. What the band labels as “pure aggression” ends up feeling like death metal that wouldn’t have felt shocking in the early 1990s.
Kuebiko has plenty of entry-level death metal (just think of those aforementioned influences). Riffs, blast beats, a tough of thrash, the odd melody or two and atmosphere to give the listeners a seven layer dip of the genre. Perhaps it’s similar for the band in that they wanted to explore new sounds (which are actually old sounds) but, hailing from Finland, it’s not outside the realm of possibility that people will expect more. Their attempt to change, to create at “less sterile” music has resulted in what feels like a forced foray into the swamps of death metal. One that ends directly back at the beginning. Perhaps less tracks or shorter, more direct songs would help but ultimately production, equipment choices and poorly chosen samples doom Kuebiko to a less than savory fate: beige death metal that neither shocks nor leaves an impression.