Mortiis – The Great Deceiver

The Great Deceiver
Released 4th March 2016
Industrial Rock/ Industrial Metal
Released via Omnipresence

The Norwegian musician Håvard Ellefsen a.k.a Mortiis first became known in the metal scene as the bassist and lyricist of the renowned black metal band Emperor. He then left the Emperor in the mid- 90s to form his own band. Unlike Emperor, Mortiis’ music has always been predominantly electronic, ranging from the first era of dark ambient, the synth-pop/darkwave -style of ‘Smell of Rain’ to the more recent era of Nine Inch Nails -style industrial rock. Personally, I discovered Mortiis with ‘The Smell of Rain’ album and I enjoyed the heavier, industrial rock of ‘The Grudge’. Last year I stumbled across their video for the track ‘Doppelganger’ and I decided to give their new album a go.

The opener, The Great Leap , is an aggressive-sounding, adrenaline-fueled industrial metal track that hits you like a freight train coming at full speed. I can hardly believe that this is the same band that released catchy synthpop tracks like ‘Scar Trek/Parasite God’ or the fantasy-themed dark ambient of ‘The Stargate’… This sounds more like Ministry. Doppelganger was the track that got me into this album in the first place. Here Mortiis’s haunting and angry vocals are mixed with a forceful bombardment of frantic guitar riffs intertwined with industrial synths. And just in case that’s not creepy enough to get your attention, then the nihilistic yet strangely catchy Demons Are Back is bound to leave a lasting impression.

As the album progresses, it’s fairly difficult not to became aware of the emotions that went into each song lyric. There’s a sense of anger, the occasional bout of confusion, frustration and even self-doubt. For example, there’s the bleak Road to Ruin where you get the feeling that all hope is lost and the end is near. The Shining Lamp of God is one of the weirdest song titles I’ve seen in a long while but the song itself is actually pretty good. It’s also the most “metal” sounding track on the whole album; and by metal I’m referring to industrial metal. Yet the electronic elements still play a key role in the band’s sound. Faster, more catchy tracks made me think of the dancefloor-friendly industrial hard rock featured in the early works of Rob Zombie combined with the odd hint of Nine Inch Nails in keyboard/synth patterns with relentless guitar sounds of Ministry.

Overall, ‘The Great Deceiver’ is Mortiis’s most complex and mature album to date. It’s also the heaviest, and dare I say it it’s also  the most “metal” album that they ever made.

Iza Raittila

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