Mors Principium Est // … And Death Said Live
Rating: 4.5/5.0 — Ballsy stuff!!
Label: AFM Records
Websites: Facebook | MySpace
Release Dates: Out Now!

On a regular day I’m tempted to say melodeath bands are a dime a dozen. When in doubt, foist some mediocre Gothenburg fueled melodeath at the market and unless it’s a huge steaming pile of sh1t no doubt it’ll move. And why not, other than straight-up heavy metal, of all the genre labels it’s probably one of the most easy listening platters on offer. Once in a while however, you need to sit up and take notice – in amongst the hordes of lurching mediocrity there’s a glimmer of something special, and in this case I’m talking about Finnish quintet Mors Principium Est (loosely translated meaning Death is the Beginning) and their latest offering …And Death Said Live. Packing influences from Soilwork, At the Gates, Dark Tranquillity and a host of others, and with three well received full lengths already in the market, I was interested to see what Mors Principium Est could do after a five-year hiatus and numerous line-up changes and if they could compete with the likes of today’s melodic greats: Omnium Gatherum, Swallow The Sun, In Mourning, Be’lakor, Kalmah and Allegaeon. Pleasingly, Mors Principium Est’s ass-kickery competes and then some! If you have an unhealthy obsession with Scandinavia and Finland or if Urban Dictionary is correct and you live in New Jersey (apparently the centre with the largest concentration of melodeath heads??) read on!

… And Death Said Live uses the standard melodic death approach combining mid-paced riffs, good-natured, technically proficient, harmonious guitar lines, distortion, aggressive double-bass and blast beat barrages. Where Mors Principium Est mix things up with aplomb and step outside of the shadow of counterparts is in the addition of odd sounding sample layers blending seamlessly into captivating keyboard solos. “The Awakening”, “Birth of the Starchild” and “Dead Winds of Hope” are just a few of the conquering moments demanding you sit up and take notice. Andy Gillion (lead guitar) is credited with the majority of the musical composition and combined with the interesting samples, his intelligent, precise and yet seductively cheeky, hooky melodic guitar lines and Mikko Sipola’s skill in attacking the drum skins in “I Will Return”, “Birth of the Starchild”, “Bringer of Light”, “Destroyer of All” and “Dead Winds of Hope” tempt repeat plays.

Ville Viljanen uses a vocal style mostly consisting of harsh, ferocious, full-throttle screaming broken up with great, convincingly gruesome death growls and when Ville lets it all hang out and screams like his life depends on it – let’s just say it’s a mightily pleasing sonic experience! Great vocal moments for me include Ville’s screams in “Bringer of Light”, “Destroyer of All,” and “Dead Winds of Hope” quickly brings to mind the screams of Bjørn Olav Holter (Narrenschiff) from his days with Illnath… aah the good old days.

It’s hard to find fault with … And Death Said Live and my only real complaint is the sloppy jump between “Birth of the Starchild” and “Bringer of Light” – not entirely sure how this escaped notice during production. Recording, mixing, mastering and production was all undertaken by Thomas ‘Plec’ Johansson (Engineer at The Panic Room, Sweden) and I’m pleased with the overall result, it’s clean, the balance is great and allows you to pick up on the samples, guitar lines and the catchy drum fills without detracting one iota from Ville’s screams and growls.

What more can I say, tracks like “Destroyer of All” and “Dead Winds of Hope” kill instrumentally, vocally and lyrically. Check this album out if you like your melodeath served with a punch to the gut.

Spoiler Warning: According to Metal Hammer ‘killing people and painting things with their blood is not recommended’ quote unquote [sigh].

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  • vegamagnus

    “And Death Said Live?” Reminds me of “Where Death is Most Alive.”

  • Ar318307

    Fantastic album. On constant rotation.

  • Brilliant album. My expectations for this were sky-high and they were surpassed and then some. Everything here is so intense and so deliberate, it really keeps you on your toes. Also, you brought up “Dead Winds of Hope” four times in the review. I have to say, that song really is incredible, I’d go as far as to say its one of the best MDM songs ever composed.

    I’m really glad that excellent melodeath albums like this one keep getting released, especially since the sub-sub-genre is a bit overcrowded and it gets a bit of a bad reputation for it. This is afterall the genre that got me to listen to more and more metal and I appreciate that material with this level of quality keeps being made while some say the genre has gotten stale after the 2000s. (yes, I actually remember reading that somewhere…)

  • Patrick

    Sometimes you have to look harder these days given all the recycled crap that floods the market, but there are sill a handful of really great melodic death metal bands killing it. In addition to the bands mentioned, Destinity put out a pretty good album last year, Dagon put out a great EP in 2011 and Cipher System is still awesome. Omnium Gatherum and Soilwork look poised to drop 2 masterpieces this year. I’d say if you know where to look melodeath is in safe hands.

    At first this new album by MPE sounded a little to familiar but the quality is undeniable. The vocal performance is just fantastic, visceral but intelligible. Riffs are fast and headbanging but no way to give way to some melodic passages. Nice review, convinced me to give this album another chance.

  • Thanks ! I’ll check them out.

  • Will it become the background?

  • This record is incredible. Melodeath album of the year for sure.

  • dvi

    “…my only real complaint is the sloppy jump between “Birth of the Starchild” and “Bringer of Light” – not entirely sure how this escaped notice during production.”

    Actually, I think the seamless transition here is intentional– it’s been used in their previous albums (Pure – The Harmony Remains on The Unborn, The Animal Within – Finality on Liberation = Termination) and is a kind of MPE trademark. I’m happy to see this little detail on the new record too.

    A great album to boot, I’ve been listening to it for almost two months, and it still hasn’t started to bore me. Top notch production too. Never thought I’d see another MPE record of this quality after Haukio left MPE.

  • Lord Miklite

    Not exactly sure why this was a 4.5. I’d give it a 3.5, 4 would be stretching it. I like it but it isn’t as ball crunching as this sort of music needs to be to work, and it seems like it’s too much of playing this exciting riff over and over, then playing a boring chorus and repeating. Dead Winds of Hope is probably my favorite for the section before the last chorus.