Mortiis @ The Garage, London

28th May 2016
Review by Ashlinn Nash

The Garage is one of those venues which you either love, or you hate. It’s not always spot on for sound, it gets horribly sticky in the summer, but that all becomes part of its charm at gigs like this one – when the sound actually goes to plan. It’s nicely intimate but still bears a distance enough for the bands to remain shrouded in mystery. So when the billing came about for Mortiis, who, for a long time now has been a key character in the Norwegian music scene with his own musical pursuits, as well as with other musical outings such as Emperor, it’s no wonder bands similar in sound jumped on the chance to play.

He has carved out his own brand of black metal, turned ambient, turned goth rock industrial. Showcasing tonight with the Norwegian born and bred troupe are Into The Ether, Die Kur, Ventenner, and Seraph sin. The gig itself starting quite early at 6.30 seemed a surprise to some as there wasn’t as much of a crowd as there could have been.

Into The Ether [2.5/5] open tonight with a heart full of spirit, which falls on a sparse crowd. They boast songs about ketamine and bear costumes like kids allowed out for an Alice cooper gig. To be fair, they had a tough crowd in front of them, who were not exactly morale boosting as they were mostly clad and proud to be seeing the headliner act. It was a real fans only affair, which is a shame as, in my opinion, support bands can really make the night worth it!

Adding comical charm and lavishness by brandishing a bubble gun, being playful and showing an air of having a laugh, they fall short of being professional. Into The Ether are blessed only in parts with a few strung along melodies which bare a serious tone and step up their game. They then simultaneously ruin their progress by having a “drug” providing robot on stage, and it is hard to take something so gimmicky seriously. The musicality of the band was brilliant in places, sounding similar to Bauhaus and The Damned,  but  the nonsense just let them down.

With more bubbles and still not a cracked smile in the crowd by the end of their set, they were probably trying to be that bit too ambitious with comedy, which certainly fell flat!

Die Kur [3.5/5] are next up and are more seasoned at their game. Let the excitement begin! With their blend of bombarding bass lines and frantically delivered vocals, it’s here that finally some movement gets going and some pinches of adrenaline ignite.

Their confidence on stage not only gains respect from the crowd but also from the other bands on the bill watching them, who give a head nod to acknowledge them. They are a local band with a punch and real passion about playing.The five piece are a tight unit and really play well together compared to the opening band whose members seemed so isolated from each other. It’s great to see such chemistry on stage now!

They are loud and kicking with Sepultura sounding riffs, diatonic screams and enlightening soul punches which really set a new pace for the gig. By the time they conclude we are left with the dual emotions of exhaustion and excitement for the awaited headliner, Mortiis.

Next up, London based Ventenner [4/5] hit the stage. In a live environment, the band have provocatively mixed industrial with alternative and metal sounds which translates well for the gig setting, and whilst the majority of bands playing in the genre haven’t quite got the practically of how to bring their studio sound to the live arena, Ventenner carry it off beautifully! They show moments within the set of being able to be both a calm, sound ocean and a vicious animal all at the same time.

Taking no prisoners with riff after riff of deliciously constructed sonic textures, they are devoted to being crowd pleasers and really grab the room’s attention. They earn themselves some new fans, before bringing a saddened announcement of only having two songs left- one fast one and one slow one. Their choice of cover for the penned slow number was a superior quality chilled version of Massive Attack’s master piece “angel”- which was which down really well with the audience.

Seraph Sin [3.5/5] bound on stage with no time wasting as they do so. They are fruitful in heart and enthusiasm which is reflected throughout the set which is rich in boundless pounding beats. The troupe sound somewhere between Ministry and Skinny Puppy with their heavy blasts accompanied by tangled traces of slick guitar moves. The down picked guitars, staccato drums and distorted bass, all played with a wall of noise mentality, and their brilliance really came to life within the live arena.

Their delivery was top-notch, and they were well balanced and professional throughout. They are as inspiring as they are infectious with pumps of solid quality music which prove to make them stand out on the billing. It’s no mean feat to be as well oiled as a team as they were versatile with a really beautiful barrage of the creative spirit on show. Seraph Sin left the crowd exhausted but elevated all the at the same time which is just as well as it was time for the final band of the night to arrive.

Mortiis [4.5/5]who is clad in goblin like attire, is back now in true form. He darkened up the atmosphere, and chilled down a day as sunny as it was outside still! He really worked to create an air of grim by arriving and braving the stage with a stripped down band, using some of the visual clips from the latest band videos to add an extra element to his shows.

The group work like a juggernaut outfit of enthralling dynamics, pulling off a variety of stripped down older classics and keeping in with the newer themes. Another era for the band has come to light and it is one engulfed with power. The set was kept pretty chit-chat free which is a humble relief from most bands – as this often a sign of things going wrong technology wise.

The band are nothing but professional and keen to please but understandably not keen on playing old more commercial numbers such as “The Grudge” from the album of the same name, rather going for a fluid pounding precision displaying the new album’s tracks, along with songs from the 2010 album ‘Perfectly Defect’.
Mortiis plays what he wants and lets you know who is actually in control. Leaving the crowd wanting more, they come back on stage after a short pause to serve up two brilliant slices from the past.

“Decadent and Desperate” comes first before all was round up with an aptly phrased, bastardised version of ‘Broken Skin’. This causes the first real sing a-longs of the night. By the end of the set it is clear that he is best on stage and happiest when being able to express his thoughts through music.

It’s been an emotional ride for the majority of the crowd who pumped their fists, nodded hard and pursued their dreams of seeing Mortiis live finally! At least there is a new album to listen to on the way home to keep the memory fresh of the gig the next day.