CD Review

Mortiis – “The Grudge”

By Marcus Pan

The GrudgeMortiis mix up groove, funk and guitars together to form an interesting mixture of EBM-laced industrial with flair and style. From the opening Broken Skin you can already see the well crafted nature of Mortiis' work with very well-laced rhythm, bass and guitar stylings that are woven together as tightly as a straight cat's ass. Then suddenly at just under two minutes in, the song goes south, breaking into a nearly Sinatra-like lounge thing. Totally breaks up the heavy enjoyment of what the track kicked off to be. But that's quick and over soon...only to return into another during the chorus. Hopefully, Mortiis are just really good musicians and composers (as shown in the inspired techno-industrial of Broken Skin) playing a really bad joke on us. So let's move on and hope they don't go into the Sinatra lounge singer thing too often.

Way Too Wicked opens very futuresque with strange tinkers of electronica wrapping comfortably around a slightly metalicized vocal track. It promptly gets heavier and rhythmic, reminding me of work by SMP(1) and I find myself hoping it doesn't get loungey. This is a good track to highlight Mortiis' capabilities – there's enough musical changes in this song that most bands of this over-worked ilk can't do in half their album’s length. And all blend together. I was complaining earlier about albums where you can barely find the segues between songs – Mortiis has enough segues to make up for all of the shiny discs of crap I might have spun this week and I'm only on the second track!

Think that wall-smashing riffage is all Mortiis is good for? Witness the namesake of the release, The Grudge. A fine example of Mortiis slowing it down and oozing evil like a post-natal witch’s tit. It keeps the low-down style going throughout and while they will use guitars (they are an industrial band, no?) they'll do so with smoother style. However, Decadent Desperate shreds right in and raises the bar back to breaking shit.

They can smooth it out with The Worst in Me, or shred it loud with Decadent Desperate. They can spit out lyrics like Way Too Wicked and ooze it down like The Grudge. Either way, Mortiis are one of the best industrial outfits to land on my desk in a world that seems completely loaded with the same. I'll take this CD and put it on my shelf next to the best – Ministry, Nine Inch Nails, Pigface, Front Line Assembly – if Mortiis doesn't achieve the same level of respect as those listed, I'll eat my shorts because they should.

Unfortunately, Mortiis resembles what my old reviewer-in-stasis friend Rat Bastard referred to as a “elf-monster thing,” and, as we all know and RB pointed out to me, the ability to dominate the industrial music scene is an uphill battle for elf-monster things. But don’t worry – just because he’s an elf-monster thing doesn’t mean he plays the flute or lyre or something. Pick this up and help me from not eating my shorts!

(1) Legends reviewed one of my personal favorites of SMP, Terminal, in issue #104.
Contact Information:
Earache Records, Inc.
Post: 43 W. 38th St., New York, NY, 10018, USA

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