Founded in the late '90s, Finnish metallers Gloria Morti deal in a technically complex and mega-heavy brand of blackened death metal, setting them apart from many higher-profile Scandanavian bands (who tend to fall more into the melodic, symphonic and pure black metal categories), and more in line with Behemoth (one of our all-time faves), Vader or Decapitated. That's not to say there isn't plenty of room in the game for other players, especially a band with such solid skills. The band's strong suit lies partly with their barely-restrained rhythms, including chunky anchor lines and furious blastbeats from drummer Kauko Kuusisalo, paired with the razor-sharp leads and dark, grimy riffs of guitarists Juho Räihä and Eero Silvonen, backed by doom-filled atmospheres (including some keyboard enhancements) more akin to melodic death metal. Those components elevate what would otherwise be earnest but standard technical death, complete with diabolical lyrics and vocals (and groups of songs in the same key) into a more focused sound with consistent energy and an impressive scope.
Most of the aforementioned elements are laid out very well in the opener "Lex Parsimoniae,” which showcases the band's range of intensity – in this case, from brutal to explosive – as it shifts patterns and time signatures with smooth precision and multi-tracked guitar harmonies; vocalist Psycho (the cat wielding the fucking epic pitchfork/chainsaw arm attachment in the pic at top) projects well in multiple ranges, running from the expected ogre snarls and demon wails to surprisingly melodic passages. Tracks like "The First Act" and "Aesthetics of Self-Hyperbole" keep up the intensity, but maintains a more methodical pattern. There's a sweeping Dimmu Borgir feel to tracks like "Our God is War” and "Sleep, Kill, Regress, Follow" with its choral/symphonic blasts, as the band insinuates more horror-soundtrack passages between hailstorms of chaotic riffage. The heaviness is mostly traded in for a march of encroaching doom in the track “Hallucinations,” which shapes up to be one of the band's creepiest efforts.
"Slaves" was an ideal choice for the album's first single (and music video, which you can check out at the end of this review), thanks to its hurricane-force aggression, speed-shifting tempos and sledgehammer heaviness; not surprisingly it's also the album's high watermark. "Non-Believer" comes close, but comes off a little too generic; "The Divine is a Fraud” and and "Conclusion,” however, close the album with impressive force, widening the musical canvas with symphonic elements reminiscent of Sweden's melodic death metallers Hypocrisy and finally bringing the hammer down with clockwork-precise machine-gun tremolo picking and blastbeats.
While Lateral Constraint sometimes feels like a pastiche of blackened death, symphonic metal and melodic death metal styles, it's still a heart-pounding experience, with tension-filled riff-and-rhythm combos and broad, apocalyptic production that lends itself to a suitably cinematic experience. When they're on, they're on, and for an example of the band at their heaviest and tightest, check out this performance video for “Slaves” and watch them deal out maximum damage.