“The Great Deceiver killed the band,” says Mortiis, frontman and namesake of the Norwegian ensemble. “As important as is it to myself and who I have become, I haven’t been able to think about it in any way other than ‘I need to just get this thing out of my life and behind me before I lose my mind.’”
It’s not that the record – Mortiis’ ninth - is anything less than stellar. Mortiis’ conflicted feelings toward The Great Deceiver is a result of its torturous state of constant evolution, leading Mortiis – the man and the band - through the darkest of places and back.
Its themes of anger, greed, confusion, self-doubt and re-discovery saturate the album, resulting in Mortiis’ most labored yet honest record yet. The twisted journey weaves its way through feelings of anger and resentment on “Demons are Back,” through the Biblical metaphors of “The Ugly Truth,” then takes on a disdain for greed in “The Shining Lamp of God,” “Feed the Greed” and “Scalding the Burnt.” Self-doubt comes to the forefront on “Sins of Mine,” personal darkness permeates “Too Little Too Late” and “Road to Ruin” expresses a near-admission of defeat, while “Doppelganger” hits upon pure schizophrenia. The cycle of The Great Deceiver takes Mortiis down a path of reparation, with an attempt to exorcize demons on “Hard to Believe” and accepts the ghosts of the past on “Bleed Like You.” The lyrical journey concludes with “The Great Leap,” one of the most lyrically affirmative songs of Mortiis’ career, with an expression of embracing great change.
Musically, The Great Deceiver continues along the winding path that Mortiis’ two-decade career has taken. “There are so many layers and experiments on this record, especially with guitars,” he explains. “We ran a million tracks through all the effects, pedals, rack units and plugins we could find, with more failure than success most of the time.” In the end, it all came together cohesively, mixing together aggressive guitar-driven crossover metal with industrial-type electronics, for a record that could easily be considered the most accessible in Mortiis’ catalog. Yet Mortiis remains in an un-classifiable musical genre, one that encompasses too many elements to be summed up by a simple two-word description.
“It just is what it is - too metal for the electronic crowd, too electronic for the metal crowd. It´s a paradox we´ve dealt with before. If it can´t be stereotyped, then run like hell! We just never adhered to the rules, whatever those rules have been. I never stopped to check and I have no intention of ever finding out. If following the rules will make us more like the rest, then no thanks…the rest doesn´t look that great.”
Mortiis’ last release, Perfectly Defect, which was issued as a completely free download, came in response to his admitted resentment toward the record industry. “My cynicism of the industry had become like a monster,” he says. “We decided that instead of bowing to the ridiculous demands and greed of the music industry, we gave away a record to the fans. Why feed the monster that pretends to be your friend, when in real life they couldn´t care less?”
Following the release of Perfectly Defect, Mortiis retreated to a self-imposed music industry exile, disgusted with the lies and politics that surrounded him and began questioning his own drive to continue creating music after more than 20 years.
The Great Deceiver has come at a high price, financially and mentally. “It kinda took my sanity away a little too,” says Mortiis. But the fortune of having an outlet to express all these intense emotions has not been lost on Mortiis either.
“Some people write when they´re upset, angry, sad, anguished, and so on…I can´t do that. I always write in hindsight of events,” he explains. “I never forget. I carry baggage around and when I´m calm and inspired I will bring that crap back out and relive it, under controlled circumstances. It´s nothing unique, but I like that I can do that, and that I have the privilege of turning all that negativity into something productive. Not everyone has that privilege, though, and they carry that shit around until their dying day. I guess that´s why some people go postal.”
Since the beginning of his career as a solo artist before Mortiis morphed into becoming a full band, visuals have a played a nearly as important a part as the music in Mortiis’ vision. While having shed the image of the past, Mortiis continues to develop the visual end of his art through hypnotic film-like video clips that accentuate the songs.
“I'm all about imagery, visuals, and adding great elements to the music,” says Mortiis. “I have been proving that amidst a storm of ridicule for 20+ years. I am still here, even though every fiber, every cell of my body tells me I´m an idiot for doing it. Maybe that´s because I am meant for this after all, or because I have a stronger faith in our new album than I thought I did…I don´t really know yet.”
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