On the evening of Thursday, 26th May, I went to the Institute in the Birmingham city centre to see Norwegian industrial rock act Mortiis alongside support acts DeadFilmStar and Seraph Sin. The gig was held in the venue’s uppermost room due to another show occurring at the Institute on the same night, still complete with the same facilities you would expect in a music venue (bars, merchandise stands etc).
The first band to perform on the night itself was DeadFilmStar, originating from Coventry. It was clear right from the start that the band’s general aesthetic was heavily influenced by the musically and visually darker side of 1990s alternative rock, namely groups such as Korn, Nine Inch Nails, and especially Marilyn Manson. The band played a total of six songs, two of which were on-stage covers: “Filmstar” by Suede, and “Films” by Gary Numan. In terms of original material which was showcased, it included “Now I Wanna Be Your God”, “Hello, Cruel World”, and the set-ending “Showstopper”. All in all, DeadFilmStar were a particularly positive way to begin the evening, and their Manson-y on-stage appearance was especially notable in a good way.
After DeadFilmStar came the second of the three bands, Seraph Sin. Whereas the band before them used the lead vocalist/guitarist set-up (think Roth/Van Halen, Plant/Page, etc.), Seraph Sin incorporated the traditional two guitars, bass and drum set-up, with their vocalist also playing guitar. The general atmosphere of their set was somewhat the same as DeadFilmStar, in that it felt very 90s alt-rock and particularly ominous in terms of the lead singer’s vocal style, and how he snarled into the microphone at certain times throughout the whole performance.
It was now time for Mortiis to take the stage. Drawing aesthetical influences from the country’s well-documented black metal movement, the band instead performed with a genuinely surprising energy, given the style of music they were typically known to perform. Frontman Havard Ellefsen moved back and forth from all sides of the stage with slick mobility, which was quite impressive to stay the least. Imagine Scandinavian extreme metal combined with the sort of morbid comic book-type of visual that Alice Cooper, Rob Zombie and the aforementioned Manson have come to define since their individual musical inceptions, and that is the best indication of what Mortiis both looked and sounded like over the course of their performance.
In conclusion, the Mortiis gig in Birmingham was an enjoyable experience as all of the bands showcased both the musical and visual aspects of their performances. And as someone with a particular fondness for many of the groups the bands were influenced by, such as Nine Inch Nails and Alice Cooper, this was a completely positive thing.