Just last year the Goblin King that isn’t Bowie released The Great Deceiver. That collection of electrified cyber goth metal pelvic thrusted its cod pieced way into my albums of the year and tracks remain part of both my radio and club playlists to this day. Fast forward a year and Mortiis has decided to get a load of his pals to remix/corrupt the album track by track, artists range from Merzbow to Je$us Loves Amerika, Die Krupps to his tour mate Pig. If that weren’t enough The Great Corrupter also contains 5 unreleased studio mixes recorded by Chris Vrenna of NIN/JackoffJill/Pigface fame.
The question is, in this time of tight wallets and streaming for nowt, is there enough here that warrants a second dip in the pocket with last year’s album still fresh in the ears and stereos.
Well that is dependent on your electronic tastes. “The Great Deceiver” is an album made for dance-floors. It screams dry ice and sweaty leather. “The Great Corrupter” has a similar stench but the leather is joined by whips chains and industrial machinery in a warehouse in Berlin. Godflesh tackle “The Great Leap” and inject Justin’s trademark hypnotic starkness into the track taking out the fun and transforming the original into a very, very dark disco dirge. I love it! Belgians Le Prince Harry get hold of the same song and whip up a bastard chimera of John Carpenter and snotty synth-punk. The tracks are different enough to enjoy back to back for this review – on the album there are 16 tracks between them, yet still keep the thread of the original.
Albums like this serve a secondary purpose. They offer fans of the original artist to get a flavour of other acts that they have overlooked or not known existed. I am spending half the time Googling the remixers and feel that I have peeled back the curtain on an exciting industrial EBM world. Prurient corrupt “Road To Ruin”, strip it back and leave it as a twisted slab of melancholic despair whilst Axegrinder blast the same track through an 8 bit mixer and create a frosty yet dancey beast. Deutsch Nepal grab the same track and stick the dry ice on and EBM it right up.
Die Krupps the industrial godfathers do what they do best and exactly what you would expect with “Doppelganger” . Teutonic, big beats and plenty to throw your arms around to. Fellow Germans Wumpscut get a crack at the same track and forego the big beats for techno rhythms and razor guitars. It sounds like it is being played in the Nostromo . Very claustrophobic.
Chris Vrenna gets a couple of bites at Mortiis cherry. As well as the middle section of studio mixes he has a mix of Hard to Believe taking the stripped back acoustic sounds of the original and giving it some industrial welly. Vrenna melds the acoustic guitar well with synths though there is a vocal section where Mortiis sounds like the BeeGees – not knocking it I like the Brothers Gibb. Rhys Fulber (ex Frontline Assembly) takes on the same track and gives it a movie soundtrack overhaul. In Slaughter Natives also kidnap “Hard to Believe” and things begin to sound very bleak.
PIG knows his apples, both as an industrial pioneer and as a friend and tour-mate of Mortiis. Here Raymon Watts takes on “Too Little Too Late” and he chops and changes the final track from “….Deceiver” and leaves it as hulking android where all the limbs are attached to the wrong parts and blood and oil spurt in communion. Ole Espen Kristiansen on the other hand offers a much lighter touch weaving clock like rhythms through an ambient take on the track.
Apoptygma Berserk call themselves “FuturePop” and hearing their take on “Sins of Mine” I can well see why. The original was a smouldering slice of industro pop metal. AB have gone full Giorgio Moroder offering a sweet slice of strawberry frosted cake in the midst of the leather and oil. Euphoric! The UK’s own Katscan have sins of their own but theirs are not as brightly coloured. Joy Division’s Atmosphere springs to mind in the opening 2 mins and the Mancunian gothfather’s shadow casts over the entire track. As moody as the last version was fizzy. Raison D’etre from Sweden also deconstruct the track into a very bleak barren soundscape reminiscent of DSBM.
“Feed the Greed” becomes “The Seed of Greed” at the hands of John Fryer (This Mortal Coil) and those hands are evident in this slice of discordant beat laden electronica. Whilst Cease2Exist go full mid 90’s CyberDog on it.
“Welcome to a land of Fuck” Je$us Loves Amerika take Mortiis anti macho anthem “The Ugly Truth” and lay it over a throbbing digiPunk synth line. The lyrics seem even more poignant stripped of the chainsaw guitars of the original. Some real lasers in the air moments here too.
“Bleed Like You” only gets one defilement on the Great Corrupter and the honour goes to Manes. They have a lot in common with their host, having started as a Black Metal band before drifting into electronica and Trip Hop. This is Mortiis meets Portishead the piano is blackened up and everything is washed over with an ethereal brush. This is music to drift away too but still with a cyber edge.
It surprises me that second single “The Demons Are Back” is only remixed once here by TechnoMancer featuring Angst Pop. Full 80’s synth pop. Love it!
I am exhausted now and it just leaves the albums single “Bleed Like You “ as read by Merzbow to finish things off. Elements of drone interwoven with the beats create a hypnotic take on the original.
My question at the beginning was whether it was worth the pocket dip for this beast of a remix/reissue. My conclusion is that yes it is. There is enough here to bring me back for further listens and I will be heading to bandcamp to check out all the new (to me) industrial and cyber acts I have discovered. Utterly corrupted.
(8/10 Matt Mason)