Review Summary: Era 0 has begun.
The sudden silence of Mortiis in 2011 left fans to speculate what happened, many assuming he put the project on ice. After being interviewed recently, and asked where he's been since 2011, he responded the lack of activity came from the music industry, and the amount of changes its had over the years, as the main reason for the band's hiatus. But, after five years of silence, music's goblin nosed industrialist is back with a new album, and, as Mortiis is calling it, the beginning of Era 0.
It's common knowledge at this point that Håvard Ellefsen was once the bassist for black metal outfit: Emperor. Håvard eventually departed from the band to pursue a solo career, assuming the alias Mortiis; Mortiis originally started off as a dark ambient, black metal project, with albums consisting of two 20+ minute tracks that sent you on a vicarious, medieval journey. But when The Smell of Rain
dropped, it abruptly shifted Mortiis' sound from dark, medieval ambience, to a heavier, electronic and industrial based affair. Having drastically changed styles, The Smell of Rain
served as a bridging gap during the transitional shift; atmospheric undertones are reminiscent of previous works, but the overall sound is harsher and more mechanical -- basically a compromise to ease in fans of previous works, and secure Mortiis' urge to push the band forward. Shortly after Mortiis made the decision to make his one man operation a functional band. The Grudge
onwards Mortiis moved his individual expressions into an arena of imitation and, in a lot of ways, plagiarization of the big boys in the industrial league; a feverish blend of NIN, Rob Zombie and Marilyn Manson are clear-cut inspirations for The Grudge
and Perfectly Defect
. Yet, despite any apathy for their lack of creativity, both albums have a charm that manage to nod at a past-time largely over-looked these days, and are solid entertainment.
The Great Deceiver
is no different, and doesn't stray far away from what the last two records built. It's a giant slab of retro, industrial metal that constantly digs up ideas from the past; the difference this time is a tighter, more focused and accessible effort. Mortiis' main inspiration on this record is undoubtably Marilyn Manson, which sees constant nods to the man -- in some form -- on almost every song, with songs that siv through various eras of his career: "Doppleganger" fires out all the catchy hooks and song structures you'd have expected Manson to do in the early 00s, while "The Great Leap" sounds like the Antichrist years. But tracks do tap in to other inspirations: "Road to Ruin" and "Bleed Like You" sound like obvious Nine Inch Nails rip-offs, while "Feed the Greed" or "Scalding the Burnt" feel like a homage to Ministry.
The albums production is the heaviest incarnation to-date, and fans of Ministry, NIN, Skinny Puppy, right up to later waves of band's like Motionless In White and Dope will most certainly find something to enjoy here. The LP's songwriting and production, along with Mortiis' great vocal takes, ensure The Great Deceiver
never becomes mundane. The acoustic guitar on "Hard to Believe" brings an added layer of variety to the album, while the electronic sections of "Bleed Like You" are genuinely great. Although the albums mainstay is mainstream industrial metal, it's still constantly dipping in and out of various eras of the industrial persuasion, and makes The Great Deceiver
feel like a celebration to the genre. The only misfire here is "Sins of Mine" which tonally feels completely out of place from the rest of the album.
So, would it be fair to say The Great Deceiver
rides the back of genius'? Yes, because that is exactly what it does. But there isn't a damn thing wrong with that. For any fan of the 90s-early 00s industrial scene, in particular, this is a welcoming album in 2016. It's ironic to see Mortiis taking aesthetics from artists such as Ministry and Manson, as most of the pioneers of the genre have long left it for dead. Industrial music of this kind doesn't come by a lot these days, and for that reason alone this is a breath of fresh air, even if it isn't all that innovative. In a time where industrial rock and metal isn't as prevalent as it once was, The Great Deceiver
is nice to hear, and will definitely give you a healthy dose of what you've been craving. Just don't expect anything unique.
Editions: MP3, C̶D̶
Packaging: Standard Jewelcase
Special Edition: N/A