Mortiis – The Stargate (1999)

I loved the shit out of this when I was a nipper but having re-listened recently I realise that perhaps it wasn’t as good as I thought it was.

I had the gold CD version of this, but without the book, because I ordered the “Mortiis pack” off Earache records (basically a copy of every studio album he has with them), in which they accidentally gave me two copies of The Grudge (the standard, and the special edition with the clear slipcase that had Mortiis as some sort of Vetruvian man, which was pretty cool). Anyways, I returned one of The Grudge copies and they kindly rewarded me with the gold version of The Stargate for my trouble, bless them.

Upon my return to the world through The Stargate, I instead opted for the remastered version, which does have a few descernable differences. I’m not sure if Mortiis was a part of this remaster work (I doubt it, knowing Earache), but I will commend them for making some elements of this thing even brighter than they were before. The mix is louder on the remaster, perhaps unsurprisingly, but you can get a really good idea for the clarity the remaster brings by listening to track 3, “World Essence”, where the guitar work by Niklas Trané sounds so much clearler. Every single pluck of the acoustic strings just feels so alive and bright and vibrant. Not that I ever considered the original to be dull or unclear, but now it seems so in comparison.

Anyway, the problem I have upon returning to The Stargate is that it seems a bit directionless. When I was younger I was convinced of some sort of hidden narrative that tied the whole thing together (again, perhaps there is, as I’ve not read the book that came with the special edition), but as a listener (and “just listening” is how the majority of people are going to approach this), The Stargate is a disjointed mess. There are all sorts of moods and vibes, none of which seem to properly fit together, even though the production across the whole thing is unified and consistent.

I dunno, perhaps I’m going too hard on this, so I’ll round out with some things I like. The intro track is fucking hilarious, proper medieval tunes lead us in to this circus of a record. Sarah Jezebel Deva is on top form as per always, and I really enjoy the drum machines and more regular synthesizers that come in for the finale, giving this a bit more of a Berlin School feel, at least for the final minutes.

Earache’s re-issued cover art from a few years later. I guess the backlash for the OG art was so strong that they just knocked this together as a replacement. I’m not sure which art is worse haha