Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Mortiis - The Great Deceiver (2016)

Before we ask ourselves the simple question, “What in the hell has Mortiis done?” I think it's best that we should go back and analyze this album, as well as the processes leading up to it. Technically, The Great Deceiver is Mortiis' first release since '04's The Grudge. Metal Archives might tell you that the free album, Perfectly Defect was a full-length release, but that's actually not true. It was closer to an EP that served as promotion for this record. As a matter of fact, I remember getting a lot of promotional material for this record with that one, at the same time saying that it was due to come out the year after (which would have been 2011.) Well, something must have happened between the years 2011 and 2016 that stalled this thing, because it's about five years overdue and one of those records that we thought would never see the light of day. I was actually quite surprised to see it in a completed form, but that's still not saying much. A friend and Tower colleague introduced me to Mortiis back in '01 during The Smell Of Rain era, which I thought was remarkable. I also enjoyed The Grudge and was really getting into Mortiis' industrial era quite a bit. I even found some good material on Perfectly Defect. In any case, he happened to hear the record before me and thought that it was utter trash - basically a Ministry knock-off. I thought that at first when I heard “The Great Leap” but as I listen to this record again, I feel that maybe I needed to soak it in a little first. I'm noticing this introduction in particular to have more of that NIN feel that The Grudge had, rather than Ministry. Additionally, some of these songs don't even sound like Ministry nor Revolting Cocks nor Surgical Meth Machine material at all. If anything, they sound like NIN and The Grudge flavored Mortiis of '04. Not surprisingly, “The Ugly Truth” also seems to come off more like The Downward Spiral. As a matter of fact, I'm not really hearing anything here that really seems remotely like Ministry and even Mortiis' vocals remind me more of Trent Reznor than Al Jourgensen.

“Demons Are Back” of which there's a video for, actually caught my attention in the mix and on the second time through, I'll say that I like it quite a bit. I think it's a very good representation of the album as a whole. Next we have “Hard To Believe” where Mortiis actually decides to add some acoustic guitar influence into his industrial approach, which also works. The chorus is just as strong as anything I've heard on The Grudge and it does make a mark. “Road To Ruin” contains some odd filter effects on the vocals which I didn't care for in some areas, but I love the eighties industrial influence that he's pumped into this one. It would also take a while to soak in, but I think after a while I could come to accept it. It's certainly not a bad song and achieves what Mortiis has always done well. But we have to realize that this is post-The Grudge Mortiis and not The Smell Of Rain Mortiis, which were by and large different. Perhaps “Bleed Like You” is a little flimsy and doesn't really go as far as some of the other cuts, but maybe this could work better live as it is a high energy piece. There's passion in it, I can hear that from the vocals alone – but it doesn't come across well on the disc. “Scalding The Burnt” actually DOES have Ministry influence, which is definitely noticeable in the drumming, but it doesn't deliver nearly as well. I see what he's trying to do here and commend him for plugging into that approach, yet it doesn't seem quite as potent in a vocal sense. It just sort of falls flat and feels like gibberish.

“The Shining Lamp Of God” actually goes back to his more familiar industrial approach, where it really hits and extremely hard. Even though one might consider The Great Deceiver one of Mortiis' weaker moments as a whole, this is definitely one of his best songs. Again, I think a song like this could do rather well live and I'd hope that they do perform it in such a manner. It's also well-constructed as far as an electronic standpoint is concerned and I feel that fans of the style will appreciate that. “Sins Of Mine” is a little lighter piece, perhaps feeling a little bit like David Bowie or an electronic-era Billy Idol. There's a light vocal approach here, but I think that the main chorus piece of the song is oddly distorted and feels out of place. I think he was trying to distort this airy ballad like piece, which he certainly achieved even though it's certain that he completely ruined the main impact of the song altogether. “Feed The Greed” borrows a lot from NIN at their best, but I don't understand why he had such a long fade-in for the piece. It takes maybe about a minute and a half before the song even starts, to which it's rather strong, much like that of The Grudge. In fact, this song would be right at home on The Grudge. The last piece we have here is “Too Little Too Late” which observes a little more atmosphere amidst it's familiar style. It's nothing we haven't heard before, but the tweaks within it make it a little more interesting. It's a rather odd note to the end the album on though, but I guess it works as well as any other.

There's no doubt that Mortiis experimented far beyond what was necessary here, but the end result isn't quite as bad as I thought it would be, especially when a series of rather harsh text messages from my colleague seemed to consider this one of the worst records he's ever made. Even so, it's definitely not a complete wash as there are several songs that I think will grow on the industrial listener with time and a few more listens. The first time I listened to this record much of it fell into the background, failing to really come out to me. But that's because many of these tracks sounded a bit derivative of each other and it did feel in ways like a bit of an industrial mess. Yet as I've listened to it again with a greater focus put on the material, I have found a couple of tracks here that warrant it a little better than my original first impression. The Great Deceiver is a decent industrial disc that still achieves the same kinds of feelings we had with The Grudge and does feel like a slight evolution from that material. But I have a feeling that more material than just these twelve tracks was composed within the almost fifteen year waiting time between this album and The Grudge, so I think that we'll be hearing something else from Mortiis very soon. I also have a feeling that it might be a little bit different. There's no doubt in my mind that he wanted to get this material out as soon as possible, because he was more or less tired of it by now. I would've been as well. Though as to whether or not we'll get another album next year or a bit later, is still up in the air. Mortiis will surely release another when he feels up to it, and hopefully it will show a bit of a deviation from this The Grudge style material. I am quite sure that most other reviewers will say, “We've heard this stuff already on The Grudge” and yeah, they're right. We have. As to whether or not you should check it out, that is entirely up to you. I'd definitely listen to a few tracks first and get a taste for it, because it isn't something you can immediately soak in and will certainly take some time.

(12 Tracks, 57:00)


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