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Mortiis Ragnard Reborn 2018.jpg
Mortiis at Ragnard Reborn festival in Kharkiv (2018)
Background information
Origin Notodden, Telemark, Norway
Years active1993–present
LabelsMalicious, Cold Meat Industry, Dark Dungeon Music, Earache, Projekt
Associated acts Emperor
  • Håvard Ellefsen (Mortiis)
  • Levi Gawron
  • Tim Van Horn

Mortiis is a band from Notodden, Norway fronted by Håvard Ellefsen, who is also known as the namesake of the band. The name is a misspelling of the word 'mortis', which is the pronunciation used by the band. Mortiis started as the solo project of Ellefsen as a means to convey a story. This aspect was lost over time and Mortiis slowly formed into a band.

Notodden Municipality in Telemark, Norway

Notodden  is a city and municipality in Telemark county, Norway. It is part of the traditional region of Øst-Telemark. The administrative centre of the municipality is the city of Notodden.

Norway Country in Northern Europe

Norway, officially the Kingdom of Norway, is a Nordic country in Northern Europe whose territory comprises the western and northernmost portion of the Scandinavian Peninsula; the remote island of Jan Mayen and the archipelago of Svalbard are also part of the Kingdom of Norway. The Antarctic Peter I Island and the sub-Antarctic Bouvet Island are dependent territories and thus not considered part of the kingdom. Norway also lays claim to a section of Antarctica known as Queen Maud Land.


Band members

Håvard Ellefsen

Håvard Ellefsen, often referred to as Mortiis, is the only constant band member. He was born in Skien, Telemark. Mortiis began his musical career playing bass for the black metal act Emperor. He stayed with the band just over one year before going on to create his own solo project, though unlike his previous band the music would be dark ambient oriented. Ellefsen was experimenting greatly with music during his early solo career. He started four separate projects, though the focus was always on Mortiis.

Skien Municipality in Telemark, Norway

Skien[²ʃeːən](listen) is a city and municipality in Telemark county, Norway. It is part of the traditional region of Grenland. The administrative centre of the municipality is the city of Skien. Skien is also the administrative centre of Telemark county.

Telemark County in Norway

Telemark[²teːləmɑrk](listen) is a traditional region and county in Norway. The region borders Vestfold, Buskerud, Hordaland, Rogaland and Aust-Agder. Telemark means the "mark of the Thelir", the ancient North Germanic tribe that inhabited what is now known as Upper Telemark in the Migration Period and the Viking Age. Telemark will cease to be an administrative entity on 1 January 2020, when the county is set to merge with neighboring Vestfold to form the combined Telemark og Vestfold administrative region.

The bass guitar is a plucked string instrument similar in appearance and construction to an electric or an acoustic guitar, except with a longer neck and scale length, and typically four to six strings or courses.

Ellefsen wrapped up work on the soundtrack to the movie Broken and The Devil's Chair (Renegade Films) in 2007. Both films were directed by Adam Mason who first worked with him on the Mortiis video for Decadent & Desperate. Having completed an album's worth of songs, Ellefsen commented at how they were "atmospheric and eerie" and also "very dark" while "some of it actually is semi-song structured, with some melody and sense to it." They were done under the Mortiis name. The collected music will eventually be released as a Mortiis album.

The Devil's Chair is a 2007 British horror film. It premiered at the 2007 Toronto International Film Festival.

Mortiis as a band was formed shortly after the release of The Smell of Rain .

<i>The Smell of Rain</i> Album by Mortiis

The Smell of Rain is an album released by solo artist Mortiis in 2001.

Dark Dungeon Music was the personal record label of Mortiis. It operated between 1995 and 1999 while Mortiis resided in Halmstad, Sweden, and released mostly limited-edition vinyl. It was dissolved as Mortiis moved back to Norway in late 1999.

Current line-up

The lead vocalist in popular music is typically the member of a group or band whose voice is the most prominent in a performance where multiple voices may be heard. The lead singer either leads the vocal ensemble, or sets against the ensemble as the dominant sound. In vocal group performances, notably in soul and gospel music, and early rock and roll, the lead singer takes the main vocal part, with a chorus provided by other band members as backing vocalists.

Programming is a form of music production and performance using electronic devices and computer software, such as sequencers and workstations, to generate sounds of musical instruments. Programming is used in most electronic music and hip hop music since the 1990s. It is also frequently used in "modern" pop and rock music from various regions of the world, and sometimes in jazz and contemporary classical music.

Audio mixing (recorded music) audio mixing to yield recorded sound

In sound recording and reproduction, audio mixing is the process of combining multitrack recordings into a final mono, stereo or surround sound product. In the process of combining the separate tracks, their relative levels are adjusted and balanced and various processes such as equalization and compression are commonly applied to individual tracks, groups of tracks, and the overall mix. In stereo and surround sound mixing, the placement of the tracks within the stereo field are adjusted and balanced. Audio mixing techniques and approaches vary widely and have a significant influence on the final product.

Former members

Sarah Jezebel Deva British vocalist

Sarah Jane Ferridge, better known by her stage name Sarah Jezebel Deva, is an English vocalist. She was the female soprano vocalist in Cradle of Filth for 14 years and also fronts her own band, Angtoria. In 2009, Deva started her self-titled solo project. The debut album A Sign of Sublime was released in February 2010. Her second album, called The Corruption of Mercy, was released on 27 June 2011 under a new three album record deal with Listenable Records.

Joe Letz is an American drummer and DJ best known as the former drummer for the electro-industrial band Combichrist. Letz has also drummed for Amen, Mortiis, horror punk band Wednesday 13, Genitorturers, Hanzel und Gretyl, Imperative Reaction, Emigrate, and Aesthetic Perfection. Letz DJs in his downtime between tours and supported Rammstein as a DJ on their US Tour in 2012. He has also remixed the song Sinematic for the American gothic metalcore band Motionless in White.




Era I

The title of Era I was never intentional. It came about in 2001 when Mortiis was set to release The Smell of Rain , which was such a departure from his earlier records that he wanted to brand it in a way to signify this. All works previous to The Smell of Rain were thereafter referred to as Era I as a consequence. All of the Era I albums were composed entirely on synthesizers, creating a sound that Mortiis described as "dark dungeon music". The last album of this era, The Stargate, went a step further by introducing a wider range of instruments including acoustic guitars, flutes and dark vocals; mainly provided by Sarah Jezebel Deva.

Era II

Songs on The Smell of Rain were electropop, and frontman Ellefsen took to lead vocals for the first time. This would be the only release under the title of Era II. It was during this era that Ellefsen decided he needed to seek members to perform in a live setting, which later helped change how Mortiis as a band sounded.


Mortiis performing in Leicester in 2005 wearing an "Era III mask" Mortiis-charlotte.jpg
Mortiis performing in Leicester in 2005 wearing an "Era III mask"

With Era III came The Grudge , which took an even more drastic turn from previous eras and is said to have made the biggest impression of any of his albums. The Grudge took on a heavy industrial rock emphasis, combining grinding guitars and industrial programming. Some of the longtime fans were again not too happy with this turn, but it helped gain Mortiis more new fans. In 2005, the Norwegian Culture Council selected The Grudge to be freely available for listening to the public in libraries across the country. [2]

On April 16, 2007 Mortiis released a remix album titled Some Kind of Heroin , reworking material from The Grudge, via Earache Records. "Some Kind of Heroin" offers diverse remix material including interpretations by a wide range of contemporaries, such as Zombie Girl, Gothminister, Implant, XP8, PIG, The Kovenant, Velvet Acid Christ, Girls Under Glass, David Wallace, Kubrick, Flesh Field, Victor Vortexx, Dope Stars Inc, In the Nursery among others. [3] In late 2009 and early 2010 earlier music has been partly reprogrammed and re-arranged for future live use.

On 10 October 2010 Mortiis released Perfectly Defect as a free internet only download album. Regarding why the album was free, Mortiis stated, "The new model of the music business is important to keep in mind; there's a new mentality out there in terms of how people acquire their music now." [4] During this time and the subsequent tours, the visual appearance and sound was similar to that of Era III, but with a more Industrial appearance closer to Combichrist and without any form of mask which had been a key characteristic of previous eras. Although this is marked as being part of Era III, this could be construed as a movement in Era IV.

Hiatus (2011–2015)

Between 2011 and 2015, Mortiis (as a band or a solo musician) never stated that the project was on hiatus, although the last tour ended at P60 in Amstelveen (Netherlands) on July 8, 2011, [5] with no performance, recording or releases since. However, during this time the mailing list, Instagram account and Facebook page was active, hinting at a return at some point.

Era 0 to present

The four-year hiatus was broken on 8 June 2015 when a message placed on the band's Facebook page [6] suggested a new album was on its way in a new era, Era 0. This was confirmed on 5 October 2015 when the release of the single "Doppelgänger," off the forthcoming album The Great Deceiver. The artwork for "Doppelgänger" included the familiar Mortiis logo, but with the Era 0 subscript, confirming the new Era. The album (The Great Deceiver) was originally finished in 2008, and included mixes by Chris Vrenna (of Nine Inch Nails and Marilyn Manson). Additional material was also finished with enough material for another album during 2009. To mark the return, Mortiis announced a series of US tours starting on 7 October 2015 with "The Devils Be Damned Tour". Despite the Era being 0, this was not a return to the original sound of Era I, but a continuation of that within Era III, again with complete lack of prosthetics or mask, but keeping the gothic/industrial costuming and face paint.


For nearly the entirety of the band's existence, frontman Ellefsen has altered his facial appearance using several alternatives before using a prosthetic mask and ear set. The studio who made Mortiis' mask asked for a character reference for the moulding. The mask was always coupled with ears. During Era I the mask covered his whole face, though by Era III it had an appearance whereby it seemed to be falling off and was stitched in place. The mask was dropped after the release of Some Kind of Heroin. Having stated in an interview that the mask has been shelved "for better or worse", as part of the significance of Some Kind of Heroin. [7]

Ellefsen's choice of dreadlocks (sometime after Era I), and various outfits helped produce the "Mortiis image". When asked as to what the mask represents he has answered, "I do not look upon myself as a goblin, or troll, or elf, or medieval. I am merely Mortiis." [8] Mortiis has been known to repair his live clothes by using black tape to seal holes and tears.[ citation needed ] They often cover themselves in corn flour before going on stage.[ citation needed ]

When talking about the influence for the imagery that his band uses, Ellefsen has commented, "A lot of people do not get that you can do more than just look like you're waiting for a bus. I mean how dull is that? I grew up with Kiss, W.A.S.P. and Alice Cooper." [9]


Mortiis has been credited for a number of remixes, though most are produced solely by Ellefsen. Mortiis’ most notable credited remixes are for artists signed to the Belgian industrial label Alfa Matrix, including Zombie Girl (on the album Blood, Brains and Rock 'N' Roll ) and I:Scintilla, another female fronted industrial metal act who released their album "Optics" featuring a bonus disc with remixes by Mortiis and other artists including Combichrist and Clan Of Xymox. [10] Mortiis has also provided remixes for Italian Industrial Rock/Metal bands including Dope Stars Inc., T3CHN0PH0B1A, as well as the American Ethereal/Neoclassical act Melankolia. [11]


Studio albums

EraDate of releaseTitleLabel
Era I1993 The Song of a Long Forgotten Ghost Pagan Records / Witching Hour Prod
1994 Født til å Herske Malicious Records / Dark Dungeon Music / Earache Records
1994 Ånden som Gjorde Opprør Cold Meat Industry / Earache Records
1995 Keiser Av En Dimensjon Ukjent Dark Dungeon Music / Earache Records
1995 Blood and Thunder EP Primitive Art Records
1996 Crypt of the Wizard Dark Dungeon Music / Earache Records
1999 The Stargate Earache Records
Era II2001 The Smell of Rain Earache Records
Era III2004 The Grudge Earache Records
2007 Some Kind of Heroin Earache Records
2010 Perfectly Defect Independent
Era 02016 The Great Deceiver Omnipresence
2017 The Unraveling Mind Omnipresence

Live albums

Date of releaseTitleLabel
2010"Mortiis (Live in London)" Earache Records


Date of releaseTitleLabelChart position
2004"The Grudge" Earache Records UK Singles Chart: 51 [12]

UK Indie Singles: 7

2005"Decadent & Desperate"Earache RecordsUK Singles Chart: 49
2016The Shining Lamp of GodOmnipresence
2016Demons are BackOmnipresence
2017The Die Krupps & Leætherstrip MixesOmnipresence
2017The Great LeapOmnipresence

Music videos

Date of releaseTitleLabel
200?Parasite GodEarache Records
2003 [13] Mental MaelstromEarache Records
2004 [13] The GrudgeEarache Records
2004Decadent & DesperateEarache Records
2016The Shining Lamp of GodOmnipresence
2016Demons are BackOmnipresence


1995Necrose EvangelicumSinthBrighter Death Now
2005Muv Your Dolly (Swedish Erotica Mix)RemixXP8
2005N.A.S.A. (Return of the Funky Dead Mix)RemixT3chnophob1a
2005Self Destructive Corp. (Midnight Mass Remix)Remix Dope Stars Inc.
2005MazeChorus Apoptygma Berzerk
2005Backstabbers Go to HeavenChorusSCUM
2005Touch Me (Cleanse & Corrupt)RemixGirls Under Glass
2006Blitzkrieg (Driven On Mix)Remix Deathstars
2006Havestar (La Malediction Mix)RemixI:Scintilla
2012Bring Me VictoryRemix Melankolia


Mama Trash Family Artists Vol. 1 Track – 05 // "Zeitgeist" – Mortiis [14]

Mama Trash Family Artists Vol. 2 Track – 15 // "The Ugly Truth" – Mortiis [14]


Side projects

Cintecele Diavolului

  • The Devil's Songs – Dark Dungeon Music (1996)

Fata Morgana

"Fata Morgana is basically me wanting to express musical ideas through another medium – that had no real concept, that didn't deal with something special, or had any message within". [15]

  • Fata Morgana (1995)
  • The Space Race / Robot City (1996)


  • Havard-Vond 7" EP (limited to 1000 copies) (1993)
  • Selvmord / Slipp Sorgen Los (1994)
  • The Dark River (1996)
  • Green Eyed Demon (1998)

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Perfectly Defect is an album by Mortiis, released 10 October 2010 initially as a free internet download, although later available through digital music shops such as iTunes. Prior to being released, the official Mortiis website had a countdown clock. The album was released in various formats including FLAC, MP3 and AAC.


  2. "Album made available to public for free". Earache. April 14, 2005.
  3. "Mortiis to release remix album".
  4. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2015-09-24. Retrieved 2015-06-30.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  5. Bandsintown. 2011. Online at [accessed 3rd August 2014]
  6. "Mortiis".
  7. "Earache Records -".
  8. Source: Interview
  9. Source:Studio Pop Interview 2003
  10. "I:Scintilla remixed by Mortiis, Combichrist, KMFDM and Clan Of Xymox for new album".
  11. "Melankolia - III". Discogs.
  12. Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 380. ISBN   1-904994-10-5.
  13. 1 2 Year according to
  14. 1 2 Mamatrash Archived 2009-02-18 at the Wayback Machine
  15. Source: 1997 Official Mortiis site Waybacked