A great idea, marred by its contents
It’s hard to believe it’s been six long years since Norwegian industrial metal artist Mortiis released The Grudge (2004). And while he has managed to release a live D.V.D. (2005’s Soul in a Hole) and remix album (2007’s Some Kind of Heroin: The Grudge Remixes) since then, it’s only now that he’s finally returning with his long awaited follow-up. Needless to say, given that Mortiis and his band (who aside from vocalist/keyboardist/sampler/drum programmer Mortiis himself, currently comprise of guitarist/bassist/programmer Levi Gawron, guitarist Ogee and drummer Chris Kling) have spent the better part of the last couple of years putting together new material, it’s not surprising that the band have managed to amass enough material for not one, but two albums. So by way of thanking fans for their endless patience and support, Mortiis has offered Perfect Defect, the first of their two projected studio releases, to fans via a free download, with the band’s second studio effort The Great Deceiver due in mid 2011.
While the idea of allowing fans to download new albums for free isn’t a new one (both Nine Inch Nails and Radiohead have made similar offers to fans in the past), it is a smart move on behalf of Mortiis, as it allows him to reintroduce his band back to audiences that otherwise may have moved on, and help familiarise fans with some new material in the lead up to the band’s upcoming tour plans prior to the release of The Great Deceiver later in the year.
While it all sounds like a win/win situation for both artist and fans alike, there is just one problem with this whole scenario. And that’s ‘Perfectly Defect’. Mortiis has described Perfect Defect as a prequel to The Great Deceiver, with most of the material featured on the eight track album described by Mortiis as sounding somewhat too experimental and too varied to fit on The Great Deceiver. And quite frankly, he’s right.
The album starts off in a strong manner, with the opener Closer to the End easing listeners in with its slower tempo, thick sounding guitars (reminiscent of Broken era Nine Inch Nails), industrial effects and melodies that stand out as catchy as they are venomous.
The title track Perfectly Defect is another solid track, and one that doesn’t stray too far from the sound and tempo of the former track with its brooding atmosphere and distorted lead guitar work. But it’s with Sensation of Guilt that the quality starts to waver a bit. Although the song itself has some good ideas, the keyboard sounds used throughout the song by Mortiis, edges a little too much on the cheesy side of things (a fault that has plagued most of Mortiis’ work prior to 2001’s The Smell of Rain), while the gentle fade in on the distorted guitars simply doesn’t have the impact I had hoped it would.
Although mildly interesting, the instrumental piece Sole Defeat is little more than an industrialised soundscape of noises patched over a basic distorted and cut up beat laid down by the band, while the drum and bass effort Thieving Bastards sounds like a alternate remix of something that The Prodigy left on the cutting room floor. Again, while it’s not entirely terrible, it’s only worthy of a cursory listen at best, and only vaguely original at most.
Keeping in with the album’s troubled instrumentals, Impossible to Believe is a little reminiscent of Nine Inch Nails in places to stand out in its own right (I’m thinking Reznor’s instrumental effort Ghosts I – IV release from 2008). It’s only Halo of Arms that stands out as the definite pick of the instrumental bunch. Although nothing too remarkable, the song does have a nice cinematic effect with its wash of echoes, heavy percussion and strong sense of rhythm.
Finishing up the album is This Absolution, which takes the better half of its six minute running time to finally get underway, but once it does, it manages to stand as one of the album’s stronger efforts.
I commend Mortiis’ decision to allow fans to download Perfectly Defect for free, as something new from his band has been a long time coming, and fans really have been patient enough.
The problem is that Perfectly Defect isn’t quite the follow up to The Grudge I was expecting, but more like leftovers from the sessions that produced The Great Deceiver. And I think that’s what really disappoints me more than anything else about this album. If they’re leftovers, then make that clear right from the start. If this is only the first half of what we can expect from The Great Deceiver, then I wouldn’t hold your breath for anything too remarkable with the band’s next release.
There are a couple of good songs on Perfectly Defect, but they’re largely overshadowed by some truly substandard efforts. This might have worked as an E.P., but as an album, Perfectly Defect is a real disappointment.