The Smell of Rain


I’ve been a blind Mortiis partisan for years. Any man who scuttles about in a prosthetic nose and ears and figured that screaming black metal banshees Emperor were just too soft for him to hang around with is fine by me. So he spent the last few years like a cannibal Yanni, wielding Wagnerian synths and Viking beatboxes all covered with bloodstained animal pelts and cracked skulls. Mortiis would send zombie legions of keyboards into battle, ebon and white keys like bared fangs, tone knobs as unblinking, seeking eyes — it was an epic drone, seducing friend and enemy alike into a nebulous madness.

Why am I overcompensating so early on? What’s the problem? A cursory glimpse of the cover art shows that visually things are still as they should be in Mortiis land — beaked nose and pointed ears affixed in place, eyes gleaming black, lower torso swathed in what appears to be mummy wrappings, and a head of long gnarled dreadlocks (worrisome). At the very least, Mortiis should have received some residuals from the runaway success of the Lord of the Rings film, as he, without a doubt, provided a picture perfect template for the Orcs and Uruk-Hai. All hail! These selfsame residuals might come in very handy indeed, as Mortiis has ditched wholesale his awe inspiring Texas-Instruments-in-the-Land-of-Mordor soundscapes for a full immersion in yer basic Euro Goth/Industrial rock. And the solicitors of a Mr. Andrew Eldritch just might perk up and take note. The trad sound is the problem.

The magic is gone. I was shocked. I was appalled. I felt betrayed. And then I felt my toes instinctively tapping the floor along with those electronic beats. Sure, this music has been done ad nauseous, and was last relevant in the late 1980s, but fuck if Mortiis doesn’t throw himself in with such conviction and daring that he almost pulls it off. It’s The Sisters of Mercy. It’s Depeche Mode. It’s Apoptygma Berzerk. All dressed up like trolls, at that. It’s catchy and formulaic and should sure as shit make him the Sultan of Slimelight pastiche and way beyond. But yet I can’t help but feel that somewhere between buying the expensive synthesizers and laying down proper vocals and writing a singalong chorus, a spectral glimpse of a twilight world has been lost forever. Baby, what happened to us?

Mortiis: • Earache Records:

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