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Juho Räihä (Gloria Morti)

Interview with Juho Räihä from Gloria Morti
by Grigoris Chronis at 14 September 2010, 3:09 AM

Finnish Black Metal act GLORIA MORTI seems to be issuing a statement with the release of their third album, “Anthems Of Annihilation”. Melody and brutality can get along in a Black/Death Metal album as long as the aim is clear, the work is hard and consciousness is all around the band’s profile. Mainman/guitarist Juho Räihä stands up for his opinion and you’ll really be convinced with his answers.

Juho, thanx for taking the time to answer to our questions.
No problem man.

With a new album in your luggage, “Anthems Of Annihilation”, GLORIA MORTI seems to passing the “critical 3rd album” test. You believe the sessions for the new CD were the most stressful period for the band till now? What was the timeline – in brief – from the “Eryx” days till now?
It has always been quite stressful with GLORIA MORTI albums for me at least. Producing and playing on the same album is not a joyride. I simply have too many things on my mind through the whole process. But I wouldn’t take it any other way. It is super rewarding. I don’t think we ever stopped to think the whole third album thing. In my opinion it is much more difficult to be making the second album because suddenly you’ll have to be writing an entity rather than a collection of songs. After “Eryx” we had a few line-up changes that in the end made us more focused group. We have a new drummer and the synth stuff was made by our former producer. Now we have a lineup that is highly motivated and professional. I’m sure that we are going to be making quite a few albums with this group.

‘Annihilation’ is quite a cruel word. ‘Anthems’, on the other hand, has a smoother aura. The album’s title, apart from the concept for which we’ll talk about later, fits the album’s music ideally. You think you found the appropriate balance between cruelty and melody in this release?
We have always been searching for the correct melody to brutality ratio. The word ‘Anthems’ gives me a melodic Black Metal vibe and the word “annihilation” yields to mind brutal Death Metal kinda vibe. I think there you have the essence of the album. I love the contrast that beautiful keyboard melodies create when merged with brutal riffing and blastbeats. Like death is beautiful if you view it correctly. It would be fun to try out even harsher contrast.

GLORIA MORTI exists for something more than a decade now. Three albums in all these years…should we assume “Anthems Of Annihilation” is the CD you were looking for from the band’s early beginning or it’s a natural sequence (musically, at least) to “Lifestream Corrosion” and “Eryx”?
The reason for just three albums in all these years is the fact that this was the first band of the original lineup. I had never played guitar or made any music when we formed the band. It took some years to be able to play such a difficult genre as Metal. We have always tried our best to capture our musical aspiration at the moment of writing. We are constantly moving forwards with the music but we are making every single album to be just like we would imagine “the perfect album” to be at that given time. We have always been really pleased with the albums we have made but when you learn more and perhaps grow as a person you can make the next album even better. But we are always striving for our albums to be perfect in every way. No compromises, ever.

Reading the Press Release I couldn’t escape but stick to some specific parts like “…a concept album about mankind making an irreversible mistake…” and “…is a reminder of the stupidity of man”. The concept was an idea of…who? Was it originally planed to have a basic concept about the human nature? In addition, lyrics or music came first?
I wrote both the music and the songs. The two kind of came simultaneously. I just got the idea of the concept from no particular reason, whilst sitting in a bus. And suddenly I could not think of anything else than that. The theme started to live on its own in my head. The lyrical concept made me write certain songs and certain songs made me write the lyrics in a specific way. Nothing was decided in a band meeting or anything like that. It just came out of thin air.

Trying to scratch the songs’ surface a little more: some songparts or whole songs ‘smell’ like they could have been used for some movie soundtrack (and I think this is quite reasonable since we’re talking about a concept album). You think, Juho, “Anthems Of Annihilation” could be the OST of a movie? And what kind of movie would that be? Sci-Fi? Horror? Both?
I’m really pleased that you were able to pick that idea up. The album is indeed meant to be soundtrack-like. And that was one of the main concepts with the artwork as well. There is no band photos or anything like that. Just pictures that carry the storyline onwards. It is really important to look at the artwork, read the lyrics and listen to the album at the same time to get the whole picture. If this would really be a soundtrack of a movie I would love to hear it on the background of a Kubrick war-sci-fi movie with a touch of the movie “Aliens”.

I cannot escape but applaud the album’s production, it’s nearly perfect. My surprise grew bigger reading the recording sessions took place at your own studio. We’re talking about an 100% high budget professional work here, giving justice to the CD’s songlist! Which were the crucial steps contributing to such a fat, powerful and malicious sound?
Thank you for that. I tried to make it as good as I possibly could. I think the culprits of the sound lie in the band. The guys (and me I guess) made an exceptional job at the tracking phase. Besides that I have been working with full lengths since the recording of “Eryx” and I’m starting to get the drift of tracking and mixing. A looong way to go with that stuff until I’m satisfied but life is supposed to be a learning experience. Also a big thank you goes to our mastering engineer Svante Forsbäck. He managed to make the whole thing sound even better than what it was when it left my hands.

Are you willing to accept some kind of “sounds like this and that” criticism? Do you care what the feedback in any work of yours may be? What is the thin line between influence and ‘copy/paste’ mode, in your opinion as a musician?
It is always funny to read that what people think we sound like. DIMMU BORGIR and OLD MAN’S CHILD have been popping up a lot recently. Honestly I don’t get those references but I guess I’m a bit too close to the whole thing. If one would take the keyboards off then someone could probably see the forest from the trees. But it’s nice that it seems to be hard for people to clearly say what we really sound like. That tells me that we don’t do that copy/paste thing even unconsciously.

Do you expect GLORIA MORTI would – or could – release an old-school Black/Death Metal album in the future, with no traces of symphonic/majestic instrumentation? Or you feel the way the band evolves from album to album builds a path of no return?
By all means we could be doing a bit more old-school thing in the future. We are all very fond of that stuff and most of our influences come from there. The point of “Anthems Of Annihilation” was to be this huge movie like experience to the listener. The next one is probably going to be a bit more down to earth. After all, the keyboards were made by our friend and former producer Lars Eikind in a custom order kind of fashion to fit the movie atmosphere. Next time around we probably find ourselves on some new uncharted territory. We love to do new and exciting stuff.

When the band was formed some years ago, some basic aim was thrown at the table, right? Are you confident the reason for GLORIA MORTI’s existence still is the same?
We had a simple goal and that was to have fun playing metal with friends. That reason for GLORIA MORTI’s existence still remains.

With a first album via Firebox Records, a second self-released effort and a new third album through Cyclone Empire, should we assume GLORIA MORTI is a band that’s hard to handle? You think it’s necessary a non-mainstream extreme Metal band should necessary have a record deal?
Hmm… You have a bit of a mix-up there. The first one was made for Japanese World-Chaos Productions, the second one was for Finnish Stay-Heavy Records and the latest one is indeed being published by Cyclone Empire. We have never liked the idea of signing long record contracts for the reason that if shit hits the fan, you are screwed with too many albums to make to a shitty label. After all Metal bands don’t usually make more than 5 albums. That’s two normal contracts, to just two labels. If the other one is full of dickheads you will be fucked in the ass for half of the bands existence. Luckily that has not happened and we have been just shopping for the best possible label for us. With Cyclone Empire we have a bit of a longer contract for the first time. They were handling “Eryx”’s partly and they really proved themselves. What comes to the self publishing I think it is a viable option these days. Internet is a really powerful tool. But we like the physical format and the fact that people actually get the booklet and stuff to hold and look at while listening. It would be hard to get the resources to be printing thousands of albums by yourself. But with digital music it is totally the way of the future.

GLORIA MORTI and Finland: what amount of contribution does the country you’re from play in GLORIA MORTI’s sound/attitude? If you were located in another country you think the style of the band would be exactly the same, merely based on your musical influences and beliefs and only?
I see a huge influence coming to GLORIA MORTI from Finland. I have a basic song writing cycle that seems to go with the seasons. I write more music during the fall and the winter. I think the long nights during the winter must be affecting my lyrical themes as well. Otherwise I think we are listening a lot of foreign music so I don’t see too much of an impact from the local seen to our music. But there is of course some things that you are absorbing from your surroundings without even knowing.

Juho, which bands you believe have set the standards for what you think of as ‘melodic esxtreme Black / Death Metal’? Also, which 4-5 bands you believe are a must to listen to when firstly introduced to the extreme Metal world?
DISSECTION and EMPEROR come to mind first. A modern trendsetter seems to be KEEP OF KALESSIN and such. It is a bit hard to tell if a band is getting their influences from just Death Metal or modern Black Metal since those two are so combined these days. You really should listen to albums from ANAAL NATHRAKH, KEEP OF KALESSIN, BEHEMOTH and of course GLORIA MORTI to get on the brutal mood.

Thanx a lot for your time, Juho. Really hope “Anthems Of Annihilation” will score the recognition it deserves. Anything you’d like to add?
Thanks to you. And people, go and buy some extreme Metal albums and keep the scene alive. Cheers!


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Edited 01 July 2022

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