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Music / Mortiis

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Mortiis, in his natural habitat.

Mortiis is a solo project from Notodden, Norway fronted by Håvard Ellefsen (former member of the Black Metal band Emperor), who is also known as the namesake of the project. The name is a misspelling of the word 'mortis', which is the pronunciation used by the band. Mortiis started as a means to convey a story, and was highly conceptual. This aspect was lost over time and Mortiis slowly formed into a band. Between 1993 and 1999 the solo project focused on dark ambient music, which around two decades later was one of the main inspirations for the Dungeon Synth genre. He abruptly changed genres in 2001's electronic influenced The Smell of Rain, which featured more lyrics and style-wise ranged from Industrial to Synth-Pop. With the release of The Grudge Mortiis became an official band rather than a solo project, and the music shifted toward Industrial Metal. As of 2018, Mortiis once again became a solo project, and Ellefsen decided to return to his musical roots.

Until 2007, Mortiis was never seen without his mask; a troll-like face with a large nose and pointed ears. The mask changed over time as well; by the release of The Grudge it began to look like it had been stitched and stapled in place. Finally after 2007's Some Kind of Heroin, Mortiis removed the mask permanently; or so it seemed, as Ellefsen has been reappearing in the mask since 2016, perhaps due to fans requesting it.


Era I
  • The Song of a Long Forgotten Ghost (1993)
  • Født til å Herske (1993)
  • Ånden som Gjorde Opprør (1994)
  • Keiser Av En Dimensjon Ukjent (1995)
  • Blood and Thunder (1995)
  • Crypt of the Wizard (1996)
  • The Stargate (1999)
Era II
  • The Smell of Rain (2001)
  • The Grudge (2004)
  • Some Kind of Heroin (2007)
  • Perfectly Defect (2010)
Era 0
  • The Great Deceiver (2016)
  • The Spirit of Rebellion (2020)


  • A God I Am Not: "Monolith", from The Smell of Rain seems to be about this.
  • All Trolls Are Different: According to Ellefsen, "I do not look upon myself as a goblin, or troll, or elf, or medieval. I am merely Mortiis."
  • Break-Up Song: "The Grudge" is a particularly angry one.
  • BSoD Song: "Everyone Leaves", a song about how everyone you know will eventually leave you or die no matter how hard you hold on.
  • Concept Album: Pretty much anything from Era I. And once again with 2020s The Spirit of Rebellion.
  • Cool Mask: Ellefsen's prosthetic rubber mask was loved by fans. Although the mask was dropped after The Grudge Ellefsen has worn it again since "Era 0" in 2016.
  • Epic Rocking: None of the songs on their first four albums are under 18 minutes in length, with "The Song of a Long Forgotten Ghost being the longest at over 53 minutes.
  • Era-Specific Personality: Ellefsen, and the music itself.
  • Genre Shift: Mortiis is a fairly drastic example of this, having gone through at least three different genres (Dark Ambient/Dungeon Synth for Era I, Darkwave for Era II, Industrial Rock for Era III).
  • Grief Song: "Everyone Leaves."
  • Hollywood Voodoo: The lyrics to "You Put a Hex on Me."
  • Kayfabe Music: The troll gimmick, which has evolved, been dropped altogether, and been brought back again over the course of Mortiis’ career.
  • New Sound Album: Practically every album since The Smell of Rain. The changes in his style are divided into "Eras" by fans.
  • Pointy Ears: Part of the mask Ellefsen wears.
  • Religion Rant Song: "Underdog" and "Parasite God”.
  • Revisiting the Roots: Since 2018 Mortiis has returned to his original dark ambient, “dungeon synth” style. His album Spirit of Rebellion is the first album he did in this style in more than twenty years.
  • Ur-Example: For Dungeon Synth, actually. Mortiis expressed his surprise and disbelief in an interview that the experimental dark ambient music he did early in his career, fairly unique at the time, has since inspired an entire genre, but stops short of taking credit for being a Trope Maker.
  • Wicked Witch: Subject of the "Smell the Witch."