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I separate the Finnish melodic death metal scene into two polarizing camps. On one end you have the mainstays such as Children of Bodom, Norther, and Kalmah. They pioneer a more direct approach, featuring more upfront and brash keyboard arrangements. On the other end of the spectrum you have bands such as Mors Principium Est and Omnium Gatherum, who experiment with atypical song structures and as a rule are more atmospheric and nebulous. The background is necessary to understand why albums like The Unborn have to be approached with a certain mindset. While loaded with melodies and saccharine female vocals, you have to digest the album as a single piece of work as opposed to track-by-track to really appreciate the grand scope of the whole ordeal.
Regardless, a few tracks are still composed with enough fervor to have an impact in isolated environs. While the opener "Pure" features a decent buildup along with a solid riff set, it isn't until "The Harmony Remains" that we start to see hints of brilliance. The keyboards behind the section with the lyrics "So the world shall fear me" are just sublime. Kukkola's performance on the whole reminds me of Scar Symmetry, with dance drum tracks and synthetic-sounding strings forming the majority of the melodious keyboard assault. The short, synth-driven instrumental "Spirit-Conception" is mournful and segues effectively into the title track. "Pressure" is also a more typical, darker sounding number that flips many of the right switches to my ears.
Regardless, Mors Principium Est has the proclivity to settle into a stock melodeath riffing pattern more often than I would prefer. The lasting power is dependent on two things: the keyboards and the mournful atmosphere. The latter is usually a direct result of the former, but not in every case. Tommila's saccharine female vocals on the closer "The Glass Womb" raise the song from mediocrity and make a strong case for her continued involvement with the band. Conversely, Viljanen's guttural roars are a bit more hit-or-miss. He sounds almost exactly like Petri Lindroos, dessicated delivery and all.
The guitars have a decent tone, but lack staying power. The leads are a bit more buried than I would like, but with the keyboards hogging the spotlight the listener rarely misses much anyway. There are some neat rhythmic patterns on the six-strings, but I can't help but feel like the guitars are the biggest liability here. Tracks such as "Two Steps Away" and "Fragile Flesh" go in one ear and out the other, courtesy of the lame guitar progressions.
I've found many that laud The Unborn as a monumental achievement of modern death metal. I personally prefer Liberation = Termination, which features better riffs and a more balanced sonic palette. There is still plenty of potential here, but don't expect too much like I did. Mors Principium Est do not live up to their reputation on this occasion.
Finland has been known to produce much less melodic death bands than Sweden, the origin of Gothenburg. But the country has produced such quality melodic death bands that literally hooks you to the genre. One of them is Mors Principium Est.
When I first heard Mors, by that time, I had heard lots of melodic death bands that simply are copies of each other. You would literally find no difference between COB, Norther & early Blood Stain Child. Mors Principium Est was like a kick in the faces of those copycats. Unlike COB, they dont playing those irritating Christmas keyboards. Their keyboards are atmospheric & are used sparingly, taking the backseat and control the ambiance of the tracks.
"The Unborn" is the second album of this Finnish melodeath act and by far known to be the best album by them. The intro track "Pure" punches you in the face with brutal fast riffs & extraordinary drumming. The vocals are brilliant & the best growlings i've ever heard. The raw power of the intro track will give you an an idea that Mors are in for some serious business.
Most of the "The Unborn" tracks are brutal as the "Pure". The songs are fast, catchy and melodic, a combination you won't find much in melodeath. The fastest track of the album is "Fragile Flesh". You have to listen to it to believe it.
The songs are mostly atmospheric which adds depth to the tracks. Songs like "Two Steps Away","The Unborn" and "The Glass Womb" are slower compared to the other tracks and more atmospheric, which doesn't let the album stagnate to one particular style.
The lyrics are very well written & are mostly based on loss, death and end of humanity. Here's one verse from "The Unborn" song :
"Smell the stench of the human flesh
See the bodies so rotten
The broken arms and the broken legs
No chance to get away from them
A lonely girl standing in the dust
Her eyes are cold and blind
The world is dead, there is no hope
We must never be born."
The guitar solos are something worth mentioning. They are fast, melodic and brutal! Anyone who has heard "Another Creation" from their previous album will understand what I mean. "The Harmony Remains" and "Pressure" has got the fastest solos you are ever going to hear.
If you are over with COB and those irritating Christmas keyboards and copycat melodeath bands, Mors is where you begin. The band takes you "into the music", which no other melodeath band can. When you have heard all "The Unborn" songs and reach the end of the outro "The Glass Womb", you will know what you missed all these years.
There are several melodic death metal bands out there that all offer the same package: harsh vocals, keyboards, and insane guitar work. The sad thing is, alot of these bands end up sounding like generic clones of each other (ie; Norther and Children Of Bodom, although I do like those bands) and virtually rehash the same formula with different riffs...almost like offering the same tequila every time, but putting it in different glasses and having a different fruit placed on the tooth pick. This is not the case for Mors Principium Est. Unlike most bands from the melodeath genre, MPE knows how to take a concept and rework it into an albums worth of material, and even then, they use different concepts for different songs.
The song-writing on the band's 2005 release "The Unborn" is pure genius. There are a variety of song structures to be heard here, ranging from verse-verse-chrous-chorus to all sorts of outrageous placements of song sections, leaving the listener with something new on every song, never recycling the same idea twice. Another great feature is the instrument section, especially in the guitar department. Jarrko and Jori lay down stunning riffs and solos that would make Rusty Cooley scratch his head in disbelief. And speaking of the solos, they are some of the fastest solos I've heard in my entire life, but the speed isn't the only thing that makes the guitarwork so impressive. While they are faster than the latest Ferrari sports car, they always invoke some sort of feeling and are used with great regard for phrasing and dynamics, so you're not listening to arrogant show-off licks for the duration of the album.
Aside from guitars, the keyboards are uniquely pulled off in a way that boosts the atmosphere, as opposed to the stereotypical "Christmas keyboards" heard in songs by some melodeath bands. The drums are also memorable, and are far more aggressive, catchy and technical than on MPE's previous album, "Inhumanity". The vocals are also done well on this ablum, with vocalist Ville Viljanen providing a unique tone and technique that, again, does not sound like any old melodeath song.
So now let's talk about the songs. All of them are excellent in my opinion, and if they weren't, I wouldn't give this an album anything close to the score I'm giving it now. As stated above, none of the songs sound the same and/or use the same structures, so they can easily be told apart from one another.
"Pure" is the intro track, which includes a female vocal part in the intro, as well as boasting catchy riffs and choruses. "Pure" leads into the epic (and my personal favorite) "The Harmony Remains", which is much faster and more atmospheric than the last track. It also has quite possibly the fastest (and most atmospheric) guitar solo in melodeath history. "Parasites of Paradise" is one of the heavier songs on the album, and the first on the album to use blast beats. Like just about every song on this album, it boasts a fast solo that is done properly to avoid a wankfest. "Two Steps Away" is slower and even more atmospheric, with a nice keyboard line to keep the atmosphere at utmost perfection. "Altered State of Consciousness", which is aptly timed at 4 minutes and 20 seconds, is another heavy song on this album, and includes an insane intro solo. This song also has a breakdown at about three-fourths into the song, but it's not one of the breakdowns you hear in crappy Bring Me The Horizon songs. "Spirit Conception" is just a transition track that leads into the album's title track, "The Unborn", which only has one chorus but is a heavy, fast and atmospheric song, as MPE is known to produce. "Fragile Flesh" is probably the fastest song on the album, utilizing some more incredibly fast fretboard wizardry and--again--blast beats. This song also has a very melodic chorus, so it's got a little piece of everything thrown into it. "Pressure" is another slow title off of this album, which also utilizes a breakdown section--which again, is not one of those "hardcore on the dance floor" pit-ninja breakdowns that have plagued the name of this song-section. If you got the normal version, your CD closed with "The Glass Womb", which is a very atmospheric instrumental that uses female vocals in the background, and it reminds me of something you'd hear on the soundtrack of a 1990s anime movie. If you got the digipak, your CD ended with the fast and melodic "No More"--which is a short song meant toplease those who want a quick listen--and the cover of Megadeth's "Blood Of Heroes", which some did not like, but I personally did not mind it at all.
If you want a Children Of Bodom record, you're not gonna find it here. But if you want an excellently produced piece of melodic death metal gold, buy the entire discography of Mors Principium Est, but particularly this album. "The Unborn" offers the listener something different from the melodath genre, wrapping up atmosphere, melody, heaviness, and insane guitar solos into a nice package with a nice and poofy bowtie on top. I would reccomend this album to anyone who likes anything that remotely resembles music. Buy or die.
In terms of the most elite in Melodic Death, I personally believe Mors Principium Est has taken the throne from Dark Tranquillity on this album. What they've done here is an amazing, diverse and progressive peice of Melodic Death, even more so than Dark Tranquillity does (and a lot less repetetive). Jackhammer drums and riffage, amazing leads, moving key work, and vocals more deep and harsh than Stanne is known for.
There's so much going on with this record, it must be listened to fully, to understand what I'm saying here. When MPE is hammering away with speed and thrash tendencies, it sounds like chaos, just brutality, and when they lighten up for some lead work or soloing, it makes the speed bits sound that much more harsh.
The key work here is quite interesting in it's diversity. You hear everything from black metal to neo-prog in the keys, psuedo techo/electronic included. The keys work very well and give the album this wide open sound. Without them, I don't think the album would be as amazing as it is. MEP are from Finland, but don't be expecting christmas keyboards like Children of Bodom and Norther like to use. This albums keys are amazing and give it atmosphere and an epic feel.
The drum work is great, relentless and crushing. Matches whatever the other instruments are doing quite well. The gutiars are heavy and crush and again, are relentless, the frequent lead work is excellent as well. Bass is pretty standard, lost in the production most of the time. Vocals are great, not too loud, not to soft, harsh and cold, haunting female vocals show up in a few spots as well which only add to this albums already unbelievable sound. The production isn't raw or cloudly, nor is it clean or crisp, but it works and everything (aside from the bass) sounds amazing.
So here you have it, Mors Principium Est have crafted a gorgeous album, with as much grace and melody as there is chaos and brutality. Go get it, you know you want it.
Recommended Listening: 'Pure' , 'Two Steps Away', 'Altered State Consciousness', 'The Unborn' 'Fragile Flesh'