Crypt of the Wizard


Didn’t you always have the creeping suspicion that the musical output of Mortiis is more important as an aesthetic overview or a statement of intent than a collection of honest-to-goodness songs? It’s an object d’art. C’mon, gorgeously packaged, outrageous visual images, heady conceptualization the likes of which hasn’t been seen since The Hobbit or The Empire Strikes Back, but then the music sounds like Merzbow and Vangelis fighting over a box of cheapo Casio synthesizers. Which is not to say that I don’t enjoy his music, I do, in the same way that I enjoy Burzum’s prison albums and Half Japanese’s first double album. It’s the THOUGHT that counts, bucko.

Listening to a Mortiis record is like reading his diary, his creation of a world, a niche, a creative direction, a nexus to call his own. It’s in the historical significance. Mortiis’ records also prove to be the elusive missing link, the genetic X factor that spurred most of the forefathers of the second wave of black metal (Emperor, Ulver, Mayhem, Satyricon, Thorns, Arcturus, Dodheimsgard) to their current states of musical flux and experimentation. It was Mortis who hammered away at the gates of creative freedom that his erstwhile Emperor brethren now soak in. Exhibit A: Peccatum.

And now, Earache is doing us all an educational service and re-releasing the more seminal bits of his back catalogue. So this week’s reading is Crypt of the Wizard, which sounds curiously like a medieval Lutheran Church service and/or Tangerine Dream covering Witchfinder General. Either way, Crypt makes for strangely compulsive listening, as Mortis’ lyrical intents strain against the limitations of his machines.

It’s deliciously ironic that he was once mocked for following his troll-like muse, and now everyone has completely come over to his way of thinking — he had all those Goths eating out of his hand on the Christian Death Tour earlier this year… Gimme a prosthetic nose and a leather codpiece, I’m going to fall in line before all the good spots are taken.

Earache America, 295 Lafayette St, Suite 915, New York, NY 10012-2700;

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