Welcome to the musical meandering insights of Aaron Joy. Here you'll find 600 reviews of CDs & DVDs of rock & metal in all its variations, mainstream & indie. What they all share is that the album or band is unique in some way & not every submission was reviewed. Please share these reviews or link to them if you like what you read. Reviews are no longer being posted here but feel free to e-mail Aaron & post comments. (Formerly the Roman Midnight Music Blog) (last update 5/23/2017)

May 16, 2012

DVD: Mortiis ~ Soul In A Hole

(Click on heading to visit official website.)
Style: industrial, heavy metal, Norwegian, live
Label: Earache
Year: 2005
Home: Norway

Concert location: The Ocean, London
Year Recorded: 2004
Length: 120 minutes
Bonus Features: tv commercial, electronic press kit, band interviews, photo gallery, music videos of "Parasite Girl", "Mental Maestrom (Implode)", "The Grudge", "Decadent & Desperate (Absentia)"

Members: Mortiis ~ vocals
Levi Gawron, Asmund Sveinunggard ~ guitars
Leo Troy ~ drums
n/a ~ backing vocalist/keyboards

This live concert catches Norwegian industrial band touring their release The Grudge during what they call Era 3 of the band ... most bands have eras charting out the changes in their music but Mortiis actually makes a point of including it as a part of the promotional materials as, according to the bonus interview with the frontman also named Mortiis, each era brings different types of fans. The band is famed for their frontman & only constant member, though some might say Mortiis refers to him & not a band, who always wears a goblin mask/make-up the band has gone. But, this is not the typical shock rock one has come to except from similiarly heavy make-up'd bands such as Kiss, Cradle Of Filth, Slipknot, Gwar or Marilyn Manson & except for the make-up there is little musically to tie Mortiis to these groups. This is angry like Slipknot but not theatrical like the un-angry Kiss or comedic like Gwar or even shocking like Manson. Further, as the concert shows, the make-up doesn't land as the foundation of a stage set such as Alice Cooper might do. Actually, musically this point in Mortiis's musical timeline might be aquainted to some of Nine Inch Nails. Frontman Mortiis has created for The Grudge thrashy guitar based industrial, sans solos or pyrotechnics, where most of the melody is on the shoulder of the keyboards & vocals but in turn giving the songs a bit of a sober meloncholy nature, at least on this recording, than what one might expect. It doesn't feel as hard as one might expect. It paints them into a unique niche in the shock rock field. In some way, it's more akin to watching the slow industrial of Gary Numan that's more hypnotic than just wild head-banging. Sadly, the compositions might be better relayed at the hands of a better singer as its just average singing going from screaming to quasi-talking & whispering while the guitars churn out nearly identical riffs that without the keyboard would have little to differenciate them. Mortiis's decrying of guitar pyrotechnics is a limiting factor that brings on additional comparisons to Cradle Of Filth that also sounds like the same song repeated over & over to unfamiliar ears. While his performance is just jumping around on stage slamming around, versus the theatrics of normal shock rock. But, as Mortiis says in the bonus interview the mask is just a habit & thus shouldn't be how one perceives the music, except people will. But, in their defense, to get the full range of musical diversity one should look at the full career of Mortiis. While this may not be the most interesting live band, with bad sound quality not helping, there is a bit of a desire to investigate them in a studio setting for comparison & to see them in a controlled musical environment where more of the nuances can be felt. Thus, at least it succeeds on some level to do something. Behind the scenes clowning around footage from the band is cut briefly inbetween the songs for little effect & of little necessity other then to break up the momentum of the show. For those unfamiliar with the band Mortiis started out as a bassist for black metallers Emperor & was influencial in the early Viking Metal scene that brought together slashing metal guitars with synthesizer melodies based on Norwegian folksongs. At 18 years old he left Mortiis to go solo with his self-titled group debuting with an album of electronic instruments hinting more at goth than anything. While Soul In A Hole is marked as Era 3 in hindsight it became the start of Era 4 as it would show an expansion into more of a band than a solo project & would be a culmination of thundering black metal & electronic influences. Bonus footage includes uninteresting professional promo material & two interviews with frontman Mortiis that includes one that's soundbites in costume & another extensive interview that's honest, deep, less flashy & out of make-up & worth watching if you're a fan of the band. Those who find the concert uninteresting should watch the interview to get a new perspective of this angry young man. Includes music videos of four songs though they all fall into the Nine Inch Nails mode focusing on the frontman & arent' particularly flashy though "Mental Maestrom (Implode)" features an interesting Phantom of the Opera-esque juxtaposition of characters if an under-developed narrative while "Decadent & Desperate (Absentia)" features Mortiis arguing with himself in & out of make-up, which probably has never been done by a costumed shock rocker. The videos & interview give me pause to give the band better kudos than the concert.

Tracks include: Broken Skin (Intro)
Way Too Wicked
The Worst In Me
Decadent & Desperate (Absentia)
Parasite God
The Loneliest Thing
The Grudge
Smell the Witch
Mental Maelstrom
Le Petit Cochonsordide

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