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].