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Mortemia - Misere mortem 3/5

Reviewed: 4-1-10


1. The one I once was
2. The pain infernal and the fall eternal
3. The eye of the storm
4. The malice of life's cruel ways
5. The wheel of fire
6. The chains that weild my mind
7. The new desire
8. The vile bringer of self-destructive thoughts
9. The candle at the tunnel's end

The name Morten Veland is well known in the gothic metal genre. The Norwegian guitarist (among other abilities) is the founder of the gothic metal bands Tristania and Sirenia. Now the avid musician has formed another band, this one a one-man band called Mortemia. The debut release is entitled ‘Misere mortem’.

Back in the mid-90s, Veland was jointly responsible for the next generation of gothic metal. While pioneer bands like Paradise Lost, The Gathering and Type O Negative began the sub-genre of heavy metal in the early to mid-90s, it was Veland’s Tristania (as well as Theatre of Tragedy and The Sins of Thy Beloved) who incorporated angelic and even operatic female vocals into their gothic sound, combined with the traditional aggressive male growls. The first female vocalists used in this genre included Liv Christine, Anita Auglend and Vibeke Stene.

Veland, after a fall out with his band members, left Tristania and formed Sirenia in 2001. The sound of Sirenia was basically a continuation on from what he achieved with Tristania. Sirenia’s sound changed somewhat after their 2nd release, turning away from the original gothic metal sound that sparked the genre. Phased out were the harsh (but clean) male vocals, taking a back seat to the now primary female vocals. Sirenia found success with their new sound, particularly on the CD ‘Nine destinies and a downfall’ (in my opinion), but as always, Morten Veland still needed to feed his creative urges. Enter Mortemia.

What I found most impressive with Mortemia, is that Veland does it all himself; all the instruments, the songwriting and the producing/engineering/mixing. It was all done at Veland’s own Audio Avenue Studios in Norway. Truly, Morten is a man of many, many talents.

Mortemia’s sound can best be compared to a mix between early Tristania and recent Sirenia (leaning more so to recent Sirenia), except for the fact that there are no female vocals. Veland uses his trademark growling vocals on the entire CD, and has continued to use the male/female choirs that frequented Sirenia’s releases. The choirs are quite similar to the way they were used on the ‘Nine destinies...’ and ‘The 13th floor’ releases. The guitar riffs on ‘Misere mortem’ are hard and heavy, with bruising power that commands attention; while Veland’s exceptional vocals are dark, brooding and fierce.

One downfall of this CD, however, is that there is not much variety or diversity; whereas each track follows the same structure throughout. I feel that the element of the choirs are somewhat over-used, having heard it before on the recent Sirenia releases. I hate to say it, but at times, ‘Misere mortem’ sounds quite one-dimensional and it is difficult to listen to the whole CD from start to finish.

That being said, ‘Misere mortem’ is still ultimately a decent gothic metal release, and does contain some excellent tracks. Ones which straightaway come to mind include the single and CD opener “The one I once was”, followed by “The candle at the tunnel’s end” and “The malice of life’s cruel ways”. Also included in the better tracks are “The wheel of fire” and “The pain infernal and the fall internal”.

Despite the lack of variety on the CD and the odd fact that every track title begins with “The”, I find ‘Misere mortem’ to be entertaining and pretty much what you would expect to hear from the creative mind of Morten Veland. While fans of the bands that Veland has been a part of (Sirenia, Tristania) will definitely find this CD appealing, ‘Misere mortem’ is a release that all gothic metal fans should enjoy. Not only for the dark metal found on the release, but also to appreciate that this entire CD was made by Veland and Veland alone.




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