The Smell of Rain (Earache)
by DJ Arcanus
Mortiis calls his new phase “M:Era2.” Anyone expecting a continuation of his last album, Stargate, or the typical soundtrack dirge of older releases is in for a shock. He still has the ears, nose, and bad-ass look. Gone are the spiked bracers, the leather armor, the giant red skull codpiece (a personal favorite of mine), as well as the rest of his clothes – and beneath it all are mummy bandages! Our dark, forlorn, trollish Norwegian hero has been stripped of his clothes and tossed into an eternal blazing hell. He now arises as a sand-blown mummy to exact revenge on his tomb raiders who did not heed the pharaoh’s curse. Not really Norwegian, but still pretty damn cool.
Many fans of previous Mortiis releases cloister themselves to obscure music, so it’s no wonder so many diehard fans are disappointed with this album. The Smell of Rain falls somewhere between Gothic and industrial music. There is always something vaguely familiar about each song, yet there are new elements to make it unique. The first track, “Scar Trek/Parasite God” is horribly cheesy, especially when Mortiis sings “mm hm mm hm baby” like a true rockstar during the chorus. The album immediately takes a turn for the better. “Flux/Mental Maelstrom” has that old Wax Trax! guitar industrial sound with sampled layers that remind me Skinny Puppy (Too Dark Park). “Spirit in a Vacuum” sounds like he combined Diary of Dreams, The Mission, or Christian Death, and the classic Mortiis sound we know and love. The song starts off with melancholy synths before introducing two verses of female vocals sung over a happier synthpop sound. Guitars are mixed in, but never too obtrusively. His orchestral talent from days of old comes into play as it bridges the gap between the newer synth sounds and the heavier guitars. Mortiis does something similar on “You Put A Hex on Me,” but instead of The Mission or Christian Death, think Sisters of Mercy.
It’s hard to accept The Smell of Rain as a Mortiis album. People probably had a hard time accepting his change from black metal (Emperor) to neo-classical/dark ambient years ago. Is this a signal that he has moved on to conquer another genre of music? I say yes! This Goth-as-fuck album is innovative as it blends the old and the new to make it sound familiar to everyone.