Album Review: Mors Principium Est – ‘Embers Of A Dying World’

Album Review: Mors Principium Est – ‘Embers Of A Dying World’

Mors Principium Est
Embers Of A Dying World
(AFM Records)

Finland’s Mors Principium Est have been putting out records for nearly two decades now, but each new release seemed to depreciate in quality making the band something of a footnote around the arrival of their ‘14 effort, Dawn Of The Fifth Era. Though unexpectedly, the extra year spent between the release of that album and this new opus was time worth taking. Embers Of A Dying World gives us everything that we’d expect from the band, but it also adds in something that has been sorely lacking in the MPE formula – traditional melodic death metal. Their lineup may not have changed much in the past fifteen years, but that doesn’t mean that the old Finnish well has gone dry either. Rather, this may be one of the most unexpectedly brilliant melodic death metal releases in years for me. Granted, I listen to truckloads of the stuff – music is melody to me, as Beethoven said long ago and that still holds true to me with something as aggressive as death metal. In particular, there are a metric ton of memorable riffs flowing throughout the piece, which actually caught my ears quicker than I would have expected from what I thought was going to be another hum-drum release.

As soon as I approached “Death Is The Beginning” I was quite astounded by the level of grandiosity that went into it, as such a heartfelt piece (which opened with female vocals) coupled with what might be some of the best leads I’ve ever heard from these guys. Adding to that, is a more memorable than normal vocal approach from frontman Ville Viljanen. The song is actually something of a ballad, so Viljanen slows down and actually puts some goddamned feeling into it. That’s what I want to hear from a song like this, vocals that actually feel like an artist means what he says and not just something to spit out on another drop in the bucket. If he’s not feeling the record, how am I going to feel the record? That being said, several of these cuts exhibit the same amount of passion and the added effect of choirs and some (very sparsely used) electronic elements also add to what can come off as a relatively epic performance. As per the usual, your Dark Tranquillity and At The Gates influences are here, along with a little bit of Insomnium which is certainly a welcome influence especially after the unexpected monument that Winter’s Gate was. We also have the privilege of several fantastically handcrafted solo moments, which can only help to further spice up a record like this one and do so without fail.

It’s safe to say, (especially judging by their scores on Metal Archives) that Embers Of A Dying World is the best Mors Principium Est have sounded in ages. Even I took these guys for just another melodic death band until I happened upon this release, again – not expecting much. But what I got in return was one of the most profound performances that the entire genre might offer this year. Granted, I don’t exactly know how many other critically acclaimed melodic death metal acts will be releasing an album as we’ve only just begun, but I’d still recommend checking this one out, especially if you’ve written off the band in the past. Embers Of A Dying World is a fine return to form that should sit right at home with the very best that this genre has to offer.

Additionally, I feel it’s only right to mention that bonus track “Drowning” is thrown in the middle of the album rather than at the end (Not very happy with this idea, as that tells me that this track was once part of the album) and our Japanese friends get a lovely cover of the Ricky Martin classic “Livin’ La Vida Loca” which I first heard covered by Ten Masked Men and was the very song that got me into the whole idea of death metal pop covers way back when. With an album this good backing that cover track, I’d love to hear what it would have sounded like, but I wouldn’t also get “Drowning” if I chose to import for said Ricky Martin cover. Covers and bonuses aside, I’m quite fond of this recording and I think you will be too. Mors Principium Est actually put some work into this and it needs as much promotion and praise as it can possibly receive. You’d be doing yourself a great disservice if you decided to skip it.

Purchase the album here.

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