Masks in metal can and have been a pretty successful gimmick over the years, giving artists that extra level of interest, its a talking point. Everyone remembers when Slipknot introduced themselves to the world...nine masked mad-men from Iowa...they were extensions of persona's, characters, and their popularity allowed other artists to make a name for themselves. Nekrogoblikon have most recently taken full advantage of that and as a novelty metal band, they've done well...but before there were any goblins, we had trolls. Håvard Ellefsen, or as he's better known; MORTIIS, has slipped under the radar of late, having been on an unofficial hiatus for the past couple of years...but 2016 see's Norway's favourite troll re-emerge from his cave with new album "The Great Deceiver" and an accompanying UK tour. Tonight, Mortiis comes to The Fleece, Bristol...and Noizze was there to get their goth-on...here's what went down.
Tonight's opening support comes in the form of EDENFALL , from Cheltenham, and to be perfectly honest, their brand of dark and dreary gothic inspired doom metal isn't exactly going to get anyone warmed up...combining elements of early Paradise Lost with their heavy, melancholic lamenting, and the haunting operatic style of Tarja era Nightwish, their sound is a bold one but it's acquired taste, and somewhat out of place so early in the evening. Vocalist Clare Webster is talented and has an impressive set of pipes, hitting some great notes, but she's drowned out by the heaviness of their playing for the vast majority of this set, which is honestly a shame.
Second up we've got DRAKENWERKS  from across the bridge in South Wales and there hasn't been such a contrast in styles since Tri-Star tried making a Godzilla movie...the duo, consisting of S.P Draken on vocals and Kelly Lawrence on keys, entertain tonight's crowd with a tonne of techno and industrial inspired EDM. Performing tracks off of their new album "No Prisoners", the pair turn the crowd into a pit of glow-stick swinging psycho's and The Fleece essentially becomes the gothic equivalent of a club night in Ibiza. Musically this is catchy, you can't argue with that, it wouldn't be out of place on the latest Clubland compilation CD, but vocally its incredibly repetitive. You can call it atmospheric, or you can call it whispering, but what you must call it, is lifeless...thank god for the glow-sticks.
The main support tonight; SERAPH SIN  are here then to return things to a sense of normality, and the Glasgow based industrial rockers, inspired by the likes of Ministry and Nine Inch Nails waste no time filling The Fleece with the darkest hard rock Scotland has to offer. These influences shine on tracks such as "Up On High"; you can clearly hear Trent Reznor in the way it's been structured, with a touch of New Project when the chorus picks up in ferocity, it's really good, while "Dry Deity" takes a slower approach, in places sounding a little like Wednesday 13, is no less enjoyable. For technical reasons their set tonight is cut disappointingly prematurely as things have really picked up here, but it cant be helped, we'll no doubt hear more from these in the future.
Finally then it's time for MORTIIS  to hit the stage and as a result of his period of silence over the past few years, no one really knows what to expect. What's immediately clear is the mask is gone...there is no gimmick, no troll...just music, and what we're presented with for the next hour is wave after wave of industrial tinged metal, fuelled by a punk rock tenacity and everything hits hard. The set primarily focuses on new offerings from "The Great Deceiver"; tracks such as "The Great Leap" and "Demons Are Back" sit well with the crowd, as does new single "Doppelgänger"...but it wouldn't be a complete set without favourites such as closing track "Decadent And Desperate" and of course, "Parasite God". The latter was delivered quite brutally in comparison to it's soft, synth-goth recording, and it took away from the song a little, but it was still a pleasure to hear.
Tonight really has been a mixed bag of treats and covered a fairly wide range of the dark arts, albeit being a touch hit and miss, but overall the variety has lead to an interesting and enjoyable live show. Tonight's support have in their own ways shown potential and have qualities to them that they can expand upon, but it's all been about Mortiis here and mask or no mask, it's good to have him back. "Too Little Too Late"? Not at all.
Reviewed by: Gavin Griffiths
Published by: Kristian Pugh