Mors Principium Est - Dawn of the 5th EraThe first time I heard Mors Principium Est was at the end of 2012 when I discovered that they had been slotted to release their first record in five years in December. Somehow in the course of my metal journey I’d managed to miss a band that few have anything bad to say about. In fact, despite being a bit late to the scene—with a debut record in 2003—Mors is one of those bands that everyone I know seems to either not know or love. And AFM releasing your new record in December? Not helping. This time of year is when lists blossom and we bloggers start going through all the stuff we’ve heard and a lot of the stuff we haven’t: new records have trouble finding their way on to our radars in December. AFM seemed to be telling them: “No end of year lists for you.” Eerily, two years later, also in December, Finland’s best melodic death metal band (yeah, I said it) is back again with a powerhouse of a record that will rock you from top to bottom and likely miss a bunch of end of year lists.

Dawn of the 5th Era is not a ground breaking record, but it is an absolute beast. Its strengths are simple and straightforward. First, it is balls-to-the-wall metal. While the band mixes up feels and builds their songs expertly, they are at their very roots a thrashy death metal band. This means that every minute is laden with headbanging moments, and when it ain’t fast it’s groovy. Second, MPE knocks out great songs. The songcraft that these Finns have is remarkable, similar to melodeath partners in crime The Black Dahlia Murder, they play a blasty Gothenburg death that sounds tough and modern, and isn’t boring for a single second. Mors plays melodic death metal that evokes At The Gates and early Dark Tranquillity, and yet in 2014 they continue to produce records that absolutely slay—it’s because they know songcraft. Tracks build, they lilt, they pound, they surprise, but they never sound tired or lull one into an Insomnicoma; a fate far too common in modern melodeath. Lastly (3rd, for those keeping track), these guys know melody. The guitar work and melodic work on this record is intense and intensely good. Every song is littered with amazing harmonies, beautiful guitar melodies, and razor sharp hooks which cannot be dislodged.

Mors Principium Est 2014bHoning in on Dawn of the 5th Era‘s melody, I’m actually really reminded of a more Slaughter of the Soul-ish Children of Bodom; pull together the different threads, add in keyboard (and lose Wanky Warman), and you’re left with Slaughter of the Hatebreeder and it feels so good. And while MPE rocks Björriffs like everyone else who plays melodeath post-1996, the ability to let melody develop in their riffing over time is something that is unique to MPE. Specifically check out tracks like “Leader of the Titans” and “Innocence Lost,” and you can see how guitarists Andy Gillion and Kevin Verlay seem willing to let sharp melodic moments percolate and develop. By this I mean that they don’t drop a melody and just repeat it, instead a melody will develop over 30 or 35 seconds, which creates a tension and anticipation that makes the riffs straight up addictive. This stuff is sharp, and when they drop riffs like the bridge in “Wrath of Indra,” which are simple, but tense and brilliant, I lose it—horns are thrown, heads are banged, mosh pits are started on the sidewalk to work with unexpecting strangers, and police pursuit is initiated.

And of course, the musicianship of the band as a whole needs to be mentioned here. The two guitarists, you’ll notice, aren’t Finnish—Andy is from the UK and Kevin is French—but the choice to go out grabbing the best guitarists they could find for their band wasn’t a dumb decision. …and Death Said Live was an immense and powerful record, and Dawn of the 5th Era also benefits from a great drummer, a vocalist who—while not adventurous in tone—is evocative, energetic and aggressive, and what I can only assume is a great bass player (because I can’t hear him except occasionally). And while the playing is tight per definition on modern records—because: ProTools—the writing pops with such energy and life, one has to assume that these guys did spend some time putting this together live and that it sounds immense.

Mors Principium Est 2014

Dawn of the 5th Era suffers from a predictable downside being released on AFM: it’s loud—DR 5, basically—so it peaks, and the bass is essentially inaudible. All the artifacts piss me off, but it’s hard to kill good songs. In fact, surprisingly enough, I didn’t even think about just how compressed the album really is until I measured the DR. I assumed it was more 6 or 7 than 4 or 5, but was wrong—still, credit where it’s due, Thomas Johansson—who is involved with Christian Älvestam‘s project—knows how to make his records loud without making them sound too horrible. Take that for what it is, but Dawn of the 5th Age could sound a lot worse, even though it is brickwalled hard.

As a whole, Dawn of the 5th Era is a great record. It’s short and sweet, which means closer “The Forsaken” leaves me wanting more, and it even contains the best instrumental track I’ve heard on a record in a long time (track 8, “Apricity,” which for anyone who is a fan of wanking ’80s guitar feelz, should hit you right in that itch). And while I’m not able to give it the score that its predecessor got, I think it’s definitely on par with that record. Put the amazing melodies, the great songwriting, the tight performances and the fact that Mors Principium Est produced the best At The Gates riff of 2014, and I think you can safely say that this record is a must own.


Rating: 4.0/5.0
DR: 5 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: AFM Records
Websites: morsprincipiumest.com | facebook.com/MPEOfficial
Release Dates: JP: 2014.11.19 | EU: 2014.12.05 | NA: 12.02.2014

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  • Kalsten

    You didn’t mention the California Dreamin’ cover from Mamas and the Papas (check in Youtube). It is great!

    Anyhow, I think that this is directly in my top 3 albums of this year. Such an awesome record!

  • Zadion

    MPE sucked ass before 2012, IMO. Their debut in particular is especially banal.

    That said, “…and Death Said Live” converted me and both these two records have been great. Great review.

    • Piet

      Liberation = Termination is also a good album imo. Check out the song Sinners Defeat :D

  • Mors have been getting better and better from Day 1. Each record tops the last, and while I think this is more of a “step sideways” from …And Death Said Live, there is no band on the planet that plays as tight and ripping melodic death as these guys do. Fantastic review!

  • Doomdeathrosh

    seems like Mors can’t go wrong right now! *crosses fingers and touches wood*, was absolutely justified in pre-ordering this! Awesome review, and I guess they will be mentioned in the December ROTM!

    • There is no December RotM.

      • Doomdeathrosh

        oh yeah my bad….

        • That’s the reason I’m saying that they’re getting kinda effed by AFM in this matter.

          • Doomdeathrosh

            Thank you for understanding! I wish we could get this across to AFM though….

  • Piet

    Album is on it’s way to me right now. Can’t wait to listen to this beast. …And Death said Live was one of the best albums I’ve ever heard and from what I’ve heard so far (Monster in Me) and reading various reviews, this will be an insanely good album as well. Together with Insomnium and Dark Tranquility, I’d say these guys are the kings of Melodeath.

  • Austin Turner

    Nothing they do has ever come close to The Unborn, but this album is fantastic. I am really loving how a lot of it feels like an updated throwback to their Inhumanity (debut album) days. This album kicks the ass of Liberation=Termination, steps up over Inhumanity while paying its respects, and ties with …And Death Said Live at a very comfortable #2 spot in their discography. Great album and great, accurate review!

  • André Snyde Lopes

    Oh man, I’ve been eagerly awaiting this review and I am super-relieved. …ADSL became, as soon as I heard it, my favorite record of 2012 despite coming out so late in the year. Two years later I still stand by it.

    Now I can’t wait to listen to this one.

  • Luke_22

    This is a band that for no particular reason I have neglected to check out. Definitely gonna get on board with this though. Good melodic death is hard to find.

    • Carlos Marrickvillian

      Yeah me too!
      I just checked out And death said live on Spotify and its a very immediately catchy and compelling listen. Really looking forward to getting this now.

  • DrChocolate

    These guys have the shittiest release schedule I think I’ve come across. The way ADSL was dumped at the end of the year like a 5 pound festive fruitcake was criminal. Ditto on this one too I guess. However, it’s nice to see the recognition they’re getting/have gotten despite the ritual hosing from their label. One more example of how actual, solid songwriting trumps all other skills or accessories. Great review.

  • De2013

    Can’t wait to check this out! ADSL is a classic.
    Awesome guitar work.

  • harley_d68

    Already made my EOY top 10. Best melo death album of 2014.

  • Grymm

    I hope people don’t kill me for what I have to say. Here goes…

    As we close out 2014, a lot of eyes were on a certain influential Swedish death metal band with a prepositional phrase as a band name, hoping said band would deliver the goods on their long-awaited new album. Now, not knocking on this band at all, as they still are a favorite of mine, but it couldn’t possibly live up to the hype of their last, mind-blowingly influential record. Yet, critics and fans the world over are fawning over it like it’s the Second Coming of God where I just found that new record to be merely… okay. And it’s really criminial. Why?

    Because THIS record by MPE killed it on all fronts, hands-fucking-down. Great songwriting, incredible vocals, THOSE GODDAMN LEADS… all of it is superb. And yet, it’s going to be ignored by many because of timing by the label and people’s EOY lists already being published, and it’s a fucking shame, as MPE are just straight-up fucking awesome, and this record is essential to any fan of melodic death metal.

    • Luke_22

      I’m late on these dudes but compelled to check this out by the review and the sample track. I really dig melodic death when done right, but it’s all too rare an occurrence to find something truly worthy of attention and praise. I was initially very underwhelmed by At War with Reality but it has grown on me quite a bit. In saying that it is well back in the field as far as EOY lists are concerned.

    • Doomdeathrosh

      I guess if I just copy your message and send it to AFM, they should change their minds about releasing MPE records in GODDAMN DECEMBER!!! I wish it were that simple though…

    • Diabolus_in_Muzaka

      It seems to be a case of relief from critics and fans fawning over the new At the Gates, or at least that’s how I see it. A lot of the more…sycophantic reviews of that album read like “Hey, this isn’t total dog shit! I’m so glad they didn’t blow it in their comeback! 11/10!”. It had one pretty awesome song on it (“The Book of Sand”), and the rest were good to serviceable. Just my 2 days too late two cents.

      • This has become death metal Conventional Wisdom. Much like how everyone is meant to be blown away by the very unremarkable Carcass comeback album.

    • Grymm, I too am absolutely perplexed by all the AtGs worship. I just don’t get it. The record isn’t terrible, but I do get that “meh” feeling every time I try to sit down and listen to it.

      • So meh. Soooo meh.

        • Grymm

          I’m personally at war with meh.

      • No one appreciated Slaughter of the Soul at the time either. I heard wall to wall ‘meh’ for that one in ’95, yet somehow all those people retroactively decided it was brilliant.

        • If I ever do that, please call me out on it! :-)

    • Carlos Marrickvillian

      I often think that the year end lists should be held over a year. Give a chance to the slow burners and late releases, let hype recede and perspective comes to the fore…
      If I look back at what I thought were my favourite records of 2013 in dec 2013 compared to what I think now…qvite different.
      I’d love to know how different the AMG lists would be…

      • Grymm

        Bingo.

        I’m actually listening to Canto III way more than Surgical Steel these days.

    • This is admittedly a good album, but I wonder at the necessity of plugging your view (which, I might add, has become the metal hive mind/ echo chamber view) of the latest ATG record in the process. I didn’t hear anyone raving about Slaughter back then either.

  • Ernesto Aimar

    Haven’t heard the album yet, but I didn’t like that Insomnicoma slamm ¬¬

    “Shadows of the Dying Sun” sounds amazing to me!

    • Insomnium is easily the most overrated band in metal these days. Can’t cope.

      • Grymm

        Ditto. I like a song or two off of every album, but otherwise I don’t see the big deal.

      • Tristan gummow

        Opeth is easily the most overrated band in metal these days. Cant cope
        There fixed it for ya

        • lul

        • u mad?

          • Tristan gummow

            Depends on which meaning of mad you are referring to. If you mean crazy then no. If you mean pi$$3d off then yes. The last 3 albums were crap lol. Like a drunken Picaso just throw crap at a wall and see what sticks. Lets put some barking dogs here, some choking cats here. Some may like music that sounds rushed and disjointed, or music thats as metal as Elton John thats passed off as metal, but Im not one of those people :)

          • I deeply disliked both Watershed and Heritage. I love Pale Communion. It was grrrreat.

          • Tristan gummow

            Well hating 2 outa 3 aint bad lol. Whats the deal with no The Black Wild Yonder review? You guys shoulda been climbing over each other for that promo. Check it out, probably best thing to come out of Germany in years

  • Kryopsis

    There is a certain boldness that ‘Dawn of the 5h Era projects’. I’ve been following Mors Principium Est for a while but the the band seems to have a lot more confidence in the past two albums. It shows in the album’s structure as well as it is not as front-loaded as ‘Inhumanity’ and some of the best tracks are around the middle. Overall, it’s definitely a very enjoyable album and Mors Principium Est manages to create exciting melodies without devolving into pure guitar wankery and complexity for the sake of complexity. In a sub-genre as contrived as theirs, MPE manages to write memorable songs and remain surprisingly consistent at that. Now all this said, I am once again disappointed by the unprovoked Insomnium put-down. I suppose you couldn’t find a way to express your strong dislike of Eluveitie in a Melodeath article? ;)