Mors Principium Est – Seven Review

I find it weird that a band who’s been around for twenty years is only now releasing their seventh album. Why my brain considers seven albums as but-a-few is, I know, silly. Maybe it’s because the guys around the office are talking about bands with ten-to-fourteen albums. Mind you, most of these bands have been recording for more than twenty years. So, I know it’s not even comparable. Especially with a band as regular as Mors Principium Est—releasing a new record every two-to-three years since 2003. Some of why I feel this way is because few bands can pack as many riffs into a single album as MPE do. When I listen to their entire discog in an afternoon, it feels like it’s taken ten years off my life. There’re so many riffs—you wonder if there are any left. Twenty years in existence, a dozen members now funneled down to two, and six albums turn Seven. Will Seven be their lucky number?

In all reality, MPE has never had a problem delivering entertaining and impressively-fast riffs. Even if I felt they lacked a bit on their last album, Embers of a Dying World. It’s even more impressive when you realize Andy Gillon is the only axeman left in the band. And it makes sense that he’s been the key riff writer all these years—a subtle change in riff writing coming with Gillion’s debut on …And Death Said Live. With Gillion handling the riffs, Ville Viljanen continues to do what he does best—delivering one of my favorite barks/growls/shrieks in Melodeathdom. Ville always introduces minute adjustments, remaining fresh with each new album. To round it out, Liberation = Termination battery man, Marko Tommila, fills in behind the kit. But, I have to admit, reading all this before diving into the record left me thinking about all things that could go wrong on Seven. But, think about all the things that could go right.

My fears began to melt away sixty-three seconds into the opener when the keys transformed into a fretboard frenzy and Ville’s harsh voice. Then my worries died forever twenty seconds later. That’s about the time I start banging my head. “A Day for Redemption” hits hard, yet it still smuggles in some melodies and one of Gillion’s best-executed solos. But the opener can’t touch the back-to-back “March to War” and “Rebirth.” The former is up there with headbangers from …And Death Said Live and Dawn of the 5th Era.1 It’s a badass piece and home to one of the sickest choruses in the band’s catalog. But, when it’s finished, the boom of “Rebirth” won’t let you rest. Shorter and more straightforward than it’s big brother, “Rebirth” packs a punch as only A Celebration of Guilt-era Arsis could. And Ville’s beefy chorus and Hypocrisy-like screams make my blood boil.

As with most of the band’s releases, Seven also has a sweet, brooding instrumental by the name of “Reverence.” This piece, lush with piano and orchestra, sets the tone for the suspenseful atmospheres of the follow-up track, “Master of the Dead.” This next song is one of the more epic pieces on the record. Though it maintains the deathy backup vox of “Rebirth” and “March to War,” it ends with emotional soloing and an epic finale. Then there’s “At the Shores of Silver Sand.” With one of the more precise riffs on the disc, this song reaches deep into its hat. What comes out is a midsection of emotionally-packed orchestrations to add heft to its moodiness.

From beginning to end, Seven is a great album. Like all MPE releases, it has a monstrous opener (“A Day for Redemption”), a heart-wrenching number (“In Frozen Fields”), a couple of hard-hitters (“Rebirth” and “March to War”), and a massive closer (“My Home, My Grave”). That said, the only beef I have with Seven is the ungodly compression and the out-of-place, Dark Tranquillity-esque “The Everlong Night.” But, many, including myself, will say that you can’t listen to Mors Principium Est unless it’s bludgeoning loud. Seven won’t win any awards in the Loudness War, but I’ll let it march me to war for years to come.


Rating: 3.5/5.0
DR: 4 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps OR kb/s mp3
Label: AFM Records
Websites: morsprincipiumest.com | facebook.com/mpeofficial
Releases Worldwide: October 21st, 2020

Show 1 footnote

  1. See the primer for guidance in the ways of neck-snapping.
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