It’s odd to begin a review in this fashion, but walking into The Fleece in Bristol for MORTIIS immediately sets off a warning bell. The sight of stools and tables is enough proof to indicate that this gig has not sold well. Indeed, by the time 8 o’clock rolls around there are barely thirty people stood inside, which for a venue of 400 is rather concerning.
Not that it bothers opening band Seraph Sin, mind you. The boys from Scotland are up against it throughout their set, with a muddy sound and microphone issues joining the problem of a sparse audience, but they give it all they have and deliver as well as possible given the circumstances. A lukewarm response in between songs doesn’t deter them either, with frontman Gabriel Lennox (who has previous affiliations with both headliners), taking to the floor to gear up the audience even more. It’s a solid showing of industrial metal, but an overall frustrating night for them.
To rub salt into Seraph Sin’s wounds, PIG is greeted with an audience that has doubled in size and are particularly eager to throw a few shapes about. Walking onstage to a soundtrack of swine squeals and sex moans (natch) in a dazzling white fur coat and launching headlong into Diamond Sinners from latest album The Gospel, he has everyone in the palm of his hand as he leads them through the huge stomp and thud of Serial Killer Thriller, the thrashy Wrecked and the bizarre Shake, which is probably the only industrial song on the planet to incorporate tambourines. Elsewhere, guitarist Gunter Schulz proves that even the most military riffs can be played on a Fender Telecaster, En Esch provides excellent second vocals and locks in with Schulz perfectly when also harbouring a six string and whilst the biggest cheers of the night go to the KMFDM covers of Brute, Flesh and Juke Joint Jezebel, it’s not as if the punters have been waiting for material like that all set; this is a true triumph from a trio who have been pacesetters in this music genre for the best part of three decades.
All that’s left after that is the menacing silhouette of MORTIIS to round things off with a ton of red and blue light, dry smoke and the sort of stage set up that photographers dread. Looming out of the shadows as the energetic Feed the Greed takes flight, its anthemic chorus of You can’t kill me/I’m already dead filling the room wonderfully. On either side of the stage, multimedia screens show black and white footage of, amongst other things, naked men, one-eyed, babies, slavery, evangelists and exorcism, all whilst Mortiis himself hangs off the pillars as his own brand of industrial mayhem fills the air and gets people moving all over again. The highlight is the somewhat unholy trinity of Too Little Too Late, Demons Are Back and Parasite God, played in succession and delivering a perfect one-two-three as Mortiis continues to stalk the stage with purpose and guile. And then…it all goes a bit wrong. The music stops, the microphone cuts in and out, the screens display a ‘Do You Want to Quit’ prompt. Around the floor chatter becomes awkward, nobody too sure whether this is the end or if there is more to come. Eventually, the music kicks back in and MORTIIS finishes with Smell the Witch, but it’s a baffling and momentum-sapping conclusion to what was an otherwise very good set.
Check out our photo gallery of the night’s action in Bristol from photographer Serena Hill Photography here: