Monday, 8 March 2010

Mortal Love - All The Beauty... (2002) 52/100.

Fundamentally, there are a few problems with Mortal Love’s debut, entitled ‘All The Beauty…’, that I cannot overlook in my pursuit to enjoy this record. Perhaps I might have enjoyed this record a few years ago when the standards weren’t so high, but having found what I believe the be the pinnacle of gothic music in this industry in records like The Gathering’s iconic ‘Mandylion’, a record which renewed the gothic genre and gave bands a basis to shape their own music around, Norway’s Mortal Love are lagging behind in a few key areas which could potentially decide the fate of the band in the future. Having not heard the second, or third full-lengths by Mortal Love, I can only assume that there were no drastic changes in approach since the band, which formed in 2000, have not had to withstand many line-up changes - something which is usually a sure fire sign that things have had to be altered if they are to continue. There is no doubting the potential in a sound which doesn’t revolve entirely around overblown symphonies and an “attractive” female singer to draw in impressionable youngster, but Mortal Love are too timid at this stage to dominate.

From the first moment of ‘All The Beauty…’, Mortal Love exude a fear to embrace the powerful side of the gothic scene, which includes progressive based guitar riffs, an exceptional operatic female vocalist and an integral keyboard section. Whilst these areas are all present, to some degree, they lack the edge, flair and innovation to truly ignite an atmosphere. I do feel that opting against overbearing symphonic touches is a positive. Mortal Love are unafraid to explore a sound which is more soothing than aggressive, which is what most gothic bands seem to opt for in this day and age without giving prior thought to the ethereal material which sparked an interest in the genre to begin with. The keyboards, in particular, take on the form of a soothing piano based sound, texturing the atmosphere with the relaxed and soothing touches that I previously spoke of. On occasions, as during songs like ‘In The Sun’, the keyboards evolve from piano sounds to a floating ambiance that doesn’t pack the same sort of emotive punch as the beautiful, albeit timid piano. Though this floating ambiance is only briefly explored, it does little to improve upon the aching heart of the record.

Unfortunately, this isn’t the only section to lack those penetrative qualities which have become the cornerstone of modern gothic music. With legendary records such as ‘Mandylion’, the very least The Gathering had to offer was a beautiful vocalist who had the ability to transform the bands fortunes almost single handily. In the case of Mortal Love, Cat isn’t as profoundly talented as Anneke, who has even managed to forge a successful career with different bands, in different genres. Cat has a limited approach, opting for a softly worded sound as opposed to the overpowering operatic vocals most gothic bands opt for. Thankfully, Mortal Love have spotted and dealt with a few areas which have caused other bands numerous problems, such as dual vocals between harsh male vocalists and clean female vocalists. At certain stages, a male voice does come into play, but this is only to provide spoken words on songs like ‘In The Sun’, though ‘Mortally Beloved’ does allow the male vocalist a chance to voice his own cringe worthy lyrics. However, I must admit, even though his part is only small, he has a profound affect on my opinion on this record because, let’s be honest, the lyrics are generally atrocious.

Instead of coming across as a competent gothic act, Mortal Love have about as much credibility as a romantic-comedy in the film industry - none! The lyrics, though I never usually too much attention to them, are very sentimental throughout. We’re being invited to witness someone air their dirty laundry and boy, does it smell bad. The lyrics stink. Not only on this one song where the male voice plays a part in the destruction of my opinion, but throughout the entire record. Cat is profusely unloading her generic “romantic” feelings towards whomever. I don’t like to get involved in my best friends’ relationships, why would I want to be dragged, kicking and screaming, into lyrical themes of the breakdown of a relationship and hardship through failure to maintain a loveless relationship with some stud. The lyrics are very shallow, but that does tend to suit Cat’s voice. She’s a competent vocalist, but that’s where the positivity in regards to her voice both begins and ends. She can sing, but sounds more suited to a karaoke with a drunken audience who’ll cheer for anything with a decent enough pair of tits.

After she’s done spilling her achy breaky heart to the listener, the male voice comes in with his own take on proceedings and goes on to say, “I don’t love you anymore, I love someone else, I hope you don’t mind that we still can be friends?” Who does he think he’s kidding? The record seems to level itself out, something which I didn’t initially expect. There may be no overbearing keyboards, or vocals, but the lyrics vomit cheese all over us whenever they damn well feel like it. By the time all hope is lost, ‘Mortally Beloved’ kicks in with a hardened sound. Penetrative drums, a decent riff here or there and, of course, those terribly shallow vocals and lyrics. I had not expected the band to attempt to turn on the style, even incorporating male vocals again, though they’re very much apart of the background. The record has far too many faults to be considered a worthwhile pursuit with the vocals not commanding the atmosphere, the lyrics churning my stomach and the guitars being largely void of energy and life. Parts of this record are so laughable that I fear I may pee myself a little if I have to listen to it again. Moving swiftly on.

No comments:

Post a Comment