The renowned and hugely skilled dungeon synth pioneer and industrial/darkwave composer that is Mortiis (ex-Emperor) kicks the new year off in style with the gloomy and superbly written Spirit of Rebellion.
Spirit of Rebellion is essentially a re-imagining or a brand new interpretation of Mortiis’ classic Ånden Som Gjorde Oppør LP. What immediately stands out upon listening to it the first two or three times is how nicely it strikes that balance between familiar musical ideas and motifs on the one hand, and new layers and nuances and whatnot that have been added to those old compositions of his on the other. Although the 2020 gem sounds different in so many ways, it still feels about the same as the 1994 LP, if that makes sense? Is there a sense of nostalgia and sentimentality to Spirit of Rebellion then? No, not really. Even though it is a re-working of the aforementioned 1994 album, it comes across as fresh, chillingly introspective, and downright timeless. The fact that it also elaborates on and serves as an expansion of Ånden Som Gjorde Opprør only emphasizes and underlines the point that this is not merely a note-for-note re-recording of a classic underground treat, it transcends such a narrow definition.
Words and phrases such as evocative, haunting and infinitely mournful come to mind when immersing oneself in this epic opus. Actually, this is more akin to a musical journey to distant and far-off worlds that bear little if any resemblance to this bleak and hollow place that you and I currently inhabit. The keyboards and synthesizers sound pretty damn good and warm to these ears, and those glorious melodies are woven together so marvellously that it hurts. The record is not quite as inspiring or spirited as the original one was, but that probably has to do with the fact that when we got our filthy paws on the 1994 version way back in the day, it felt so new and different, so there was a huge element of surprise and wonder to that particular listening experience. Having said that, Spirit of Rebellion is a beautifully crafted piece of work that resonates with depth and meaning, its hypnotic and trance-inducing qualities are extraordinary. It also possesses a darker tone than its predecessor, which is great.
Spirit of Rebellion looks to both the past and the future, and personally, I would love it if Mortiis would pursue more projects and ideas such as this one in the years to come, especially when the result is as satisfying and compelling as this one is. Either way, this particular offering is for those of you who dabble in melancholy and seek otherworldly musical adventures… or simply enjoy darkwave and dark ambient music. It is perfect for one of those solitary walks through the woods or when alone and lost in deep thoughts.
Spirit of Rebellion will be released on 24th January via Omnipresence Productions.