Enrolled by French label Listenable Records for three albums in 2003 after only three demos – released between 2000 and 2002 –, the Finns announced last year that they were leaving the mother ship to join AFM Records. This change of label was accompanied by a change in the line-up, with the departure of guitarists Tomy Laisto and Kalle Aaltonen in 2011. Now that’s intriguing. These past years, Mors Principium Est have managed to make a nice little place for themselves in the melodic death metal scene, without really distancing themselves from it – most notably with their first album, Inhumanity, in 2003, brilliantly followed in 2005 by The Unborn.

This last decade has seen Mors Principium Est’s introduction to the big Scandinavian family of melodic death metal. With …And Death Said Live, their new album, the Finns – after a five years’ absence – seem to be more mature than ever. Is a new page in the band’s history being turned before our very eyes? For it is quite clear that, with this new album, Mors Principium Est are not simply here to try and make the right impression. So what’s the future for the band?

Since the band’s beginnings, the waiting time between Liberation = Termination and …And Death Said Live has been their longest period away from the studio: five years with no studio album, before a spectacular return in 2012. Mors Principium Est and their new members are widening the gap between their past and their future. This is precisely the theme of the album’s first three songs: “The Awakening”, “Departure” and “I Will Return”. This new record is marked with deep euphoria and newfound, or rather just new, energy. In fine, Mors Principium Est sets the rhythm. More than ever, the Scandinavian recipe that associates melodies and efficient riffs is applied here. That recipe is precisely what has made – and still makes – melodic death metal so special, but the band brings in a great freshness that comes from the American scene, as well as their own authenticity.

The results of welcoming new members in a band rarely go unnoticed, especially when they replace both guitarists – the founder and co-founder. Andy Gillion is English, and Andhe Chandler hails from New Zealand. Here lies the key to this artistic evolution. Although the solos, the blasts, the aggressive, insistent melodies, the violence mixed with clarity, and the overall talent to play that kind of metal have their roots in Sweden, there’s real passion in those Finns. Despite an obvious comparison with the genre’s pioneers, such as Dark Tranquillity, Mors Principium Est have always had their own identity, which they have refined album after album. In this respect, “Destroyer Of All” is slightly reminiscent of “Sinners Defeat”, from the previous album. But the presence of these two non-Scandinavian members is obvious in the music. At times, it will jump – albeit sporadically – from melodic death metal to a form of technical death metal that clearly comes from the American scene. As for the composition itself, …And Death Said Live has reached another level and the amount of riffs is truly impressive.

The band’s plan was clear following the departure of their two guitarists: they would only go on if they found “worthy” replacements. Even though the two newcomers are perforce slightly curbed, since they have to start from the foundations left by Jori Haukio in order to maintain the band’s spirit and not disappoint their fans, Mors Principium Est are open to innovations. The concept of outdoing themselves is therefore omnipresent on this record. But outdoing yourself doesn’t necessarily mean treading off the beaten path: “I think we picked up where we’d left off. As I’ve said, the core of the new songs is the old era of Mors Principiul Est. So we haven’t changed our style too much. Actually, the style is the same old melodic death metal thing, but we can have new things now that we didn’t have before. I hope people will look at this album as the fourth album of Mors Principium Est, and not as the first of the new era of Mors Principium Est”. On this subject, in an interview for Metality, Chandler adds: “There is still the classic MPE sound, with some new elements so it is fresh, but still contains all of the previous elements that defined MPE”.

…And Death Said Live is more straightforward that its predecessors, because of a massive, intense production. The album appeals thanks to its sonorities, less “muffled” than in the past. Also, despite the lack of a permanent keyboardist in the band, the keyboards are seem to be put to better use than on Liberation = Termination: they act as support and are reminiscent of what can be heard on The Unborn, while underlining the feeling of “density” the music has to offer. The same goes for Mikko Sipola’s drum-playing, one of the band’s trademarks, which has been proving its effectiveness since Inhumanity.

Without ever going off track, Mors Principium Est move forward within a melodic death scene that seems to be getting slightly out of breath these days. This new record is a great summary of what the band does best, while getting a new lease on life thanks to their two new members. Even if we can’t talk about a new era for the band, we can’t deny that the Finns have made an essential step forward. The underlying desire for progress is obvious on this album, which marks the band’s noteworthy return. For even though …And Death Said Live isn’t the most elaborate melodic death metal album in history, it comes across as a sincere album, which tends to demonstrate the band’s talent. This album is a nice little something to refresh our palates after a five years’ absence. Mors Principium Est are definitely master of their own destiny.

…And Death Said Live, released on December 14th, 2012, by AFM Records

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