Artist: Mors Principium Est

Album Title: Seven

Label: AFM Records

Date of Release: 23 October 2020

At what point do you throw in the towel and give up? In the case of Mors Principium Est, the answer is clearly ‘never’. The band, originally formed in Finland, and which remains known as a Finnish melodic death metal band, have had more line-up issues than pretty much any other band that I know. And yet, despite containing no original members, and now reduced to a studio duo, with guest live musicians to assist when the band go back on the road, here we are with ‘Seven’, the cunningly-titled seventh release of Mors Principium Est’s rather tumultuous two-decade career to date.

On ‘Seven’, the lyrics and production were handled by vocalist Ville Viljanen, whilst the guitars, orchestration and song writing were handled by Andy Gillion, the English guitar maestro who now resides in Australia. As I said, nothing seems to stop this Finnish melodeath band in their tracks, although surely Mors Principium Est could now be referred to as an Anglo-Finnish outfit, or better yet, an international entity? Oh who cares…it is all about the music isn’t it, so let’s dive in.

I was thoroughly impressed by the previous record, ‘Embers Of A Dying World’, but I’m thinking that, if anything, I might rate ‘Seven’ ever more highly. My first couple of spins were probably not helped by a sinus problem that rendered me essentially deaf in one ear. But even then, when listening in mono, I could hear plenty of material that I liked. And, once my full hearing returned, and I was able to listen more closely in stereo, my first instincts were proved correct.

To enjoy Mors Principium Est, you have to like melodic death metal first and foremost. If you don’t then it’s best you move on. You’ll also need to enjoy a certain amount of melancholy too, as many of the melodies that litter this music aren’t exactly uplifting. And you’ll also need to enjoy a certain amount of symphonic orchestration as well, because Andy Gillion has liberally coated the music in string arrangements and some grandiose effects. Personally, when done right, I love all of these things, so it will come as no real surprise that I like the music here on ‘Seven’.

Kicking off with ‘A Day For Redemption’, it is immediately clear that the Mors Principium Est duo have not suffered negatively with the loss of their previous bandmates. The intro is a rousing, cinematic affair that quickly makes may for a sharp, incisive riff full of energy and intent. Viljanen then enters with his arresting bark, full of power and spite. The lead guitar licks and embellishments from Gillion are sickeningly good, as is the underlying synth-led atmosphere, in place to add to the enjoyment, not to dilute the music’s intensity. The melodies are instantly hummable and strong, whilst there’s time for yet more lead guitar virtuosity as the song develops. As a lover of the six-string, I lap up this kind of music, revelling in the fact that as far as MPE are concerned, the guitar is an instrument to be heard and enjoyed to its fullest.

The opener sets the scene for the remaining nine tracks on ‘Seven’, although having said that, I detect a smidgen more variety than ever before on an MPE record. The groovy chug that blends with some vibrant lead guitar work within ‘Lost In A Starless Aeon’ is wonderful, but it’s the bittersweet nature of the giant catchy-as-hell chorus that gets me most if I’m honest.

You’ll be hard-pressed to find anything even remotely substandard on ‘Seven’, as the quality of the material is so consistently high. However, as will all albums, there will be some compositions that hit the listener harder in the sweet spot than others. For my tastes, these include ‘March To War’, ‘Master Of The Dead’ and ‘At The Shores Of Silver Sand’.

‘March Of War’ begins quietly and deliberately but soon erupts into a wall of epic sound, full of grandiosity and majesty. In a heartbeat, the initial bombast is joined, but at times, completely replaced by a fast-paced, razor-sharp riffs and Viljarnen’s hateful snarl. Then there’s the utterly glorious chorus that grows with each passing listen, not to mention more delicious lead guitar histrionics that segue into the chorus melody cleverly.

‘Master Of The Dead’ contains everything I could want in a melodeath track, including irresistible melodies, bursts of properly aggressive extremity, groove, atmospheres writ large thanks to Gillion’s programming skills and a commanding vocal performance. It is, by a hair’s breadth, the longest composition on the album, but it deserves to be, with not a moment wasted, culminating in an expressive lead solo within the rousing final act.

And it wouldn’t be me if I didn’t absolutely adore ‘At The Shores Of Silver Sand’ thanks to its slower mid-section that blends bold, melancholy instrumentation with a more simple melody, made all the more beautiful by an eloquent and emotional lead guitar solo from Gillion. This section is made all the more potent thanks to being book-ended by some surgically precise riffing, particularly the reprise that fades to nothing as the song ends.

I could have picked more tracks, such as the brilliant closer, ‘My Home, My Grave’ that features a grand Gothic church organ intro, or the shorter, punchier and vaguely more black metal ‘Rebirth’. However, the fact remains that ‘Seven’ is awash with incredible examples of melodic death metal done the right way. If you want aggression, melancholy and elegant melodies, alongside top-drawer song-writing, and technical performances, where guitar histrionics are not considered blasphemy, then you need to check out ‘Seven’ by Mors Principium Est, easily one of the very best melodeath records of the year.

The Score of Much Metal: 93%

Check out my reviews from 2020 right here:

Cult Of Lilith – Mara

Helion Prime – Question Everything

Soul Secret – Blue Light Cage

Enslaved – Utgard

Dynfari – Myrkurs er þörf

Amaranthe – Manifest

Kataklysm – Unconquered

Structural Disorder – Kingdom Crossing

Skeletal Remains – The Entombment Of Chaos

Prehistoric Animals – The Magical Mystery Machine (Chapter One)

Ihsahn – Pharos

Hinayana – Death Of The Cosmic
Oceans Of Slumber – Oceans Of Slumber
Okyr – Premorbid Intelligence
Manticora – To Live To Kill To Live
Pain Of Salvation – Panther
Vanishing Point – Dead Elysium
Unleash The Archers – Abyss
Veonity – Sorrows
Nyktophobia – What Lasts Forever
Ages – Uncrown
Awake By Design – Awake By Design
Black Crown Initiate – Violent Portraits Of Doomed Escape
Gaerea – Limbo
Buried Realm – Embodiment Of The Divine
Navian – Reset
Selenseas – The Outer Limits
Quantum – The Next Breath Of Air
Ensiferum – Thalassic
Long Distance Calling – How Do We Want To Live?
Airbag – A Day At The Beach
Re-Armed – Ignis Aeternum
Atavist – III: Absolution
Frost* – Others EP
Darker Half – If You Only Knew
Atavistia – The Winter Way
Astralborne – Eternity’s End
Centinex – Death In Pieces
Haken – Virus
Pile Of Priests – Pile Of Priests
Sorcerer – Lamenting Of The Innocent
Lesoir – Mosaic
Temnein – Tales: Of Humanity And Greed
Caligula’s Horse – Rise Radiant
…And Oceans – Cosmic World Mother
Vader – Solitude In Madness
Shrapnel – Palace For The Insane
Sinisthra – The Broad And Beaten Way
Paradise Lost – Obsidian
Naglfar – Cerecloth
Forgotten Tomb – Nihilistic Estrangement
Winterfylleth – The Reckoning Dawn
Firewind – Firewind
An Autumn For Crippled Children – All Fell Silent, Everything Went Quiet
Havok – V
Helfró – Helfró
Victoria K – Essentia
Cryptex – Once Upon A Time
Thy Despair – The Song Of Desolation
Cirith Ungol – Forever Black
Igorrr – Spirituality and Distortion
Nightwish – Human. II: Nature.
Katatonia – City Burials
Wolfheart – Wolves Of Karelia
Asenblut – Die Wilde Jagd
Nicumo – Inertia
The Black Dahlia Murder – Verminous
Omega Infinity – Solar Spectre
Symbolik – Emergence
Pure Reason Revolution – Eupnea
Irist – Order Of The Mind
Testament – Titans Of Creation
Ilium – Carcinogeist
Dawn Of Ouroboros – The Art Of Morphology
Torchia – The Coven
Novena – Eleventh Hour
Ashes Of Life – Seasons Within
Dynazty – The Dark Delight
Sutrah – Aletheia EP
Welicoruss – Siberian Heathen Horde
Myth Of I – Myth Of I
My Dying Bride – The Ghost Of Orion
Infirmum – Walls Of Sorrow
Inno – The Rain Under
Kvaen – The Funeral Pyre
Mindtech – Omnipresence
Dark Fortress – Spectres From The Old World
The Oneira – Injection
Night Crowned – Impius Viam
Dead Serenity – Beginnings EP
The Night Flight Orchestra – Aeromantic
Deadrisen – Deadrisen
Blaze Of Perdition – The Harrowing Of Hearts
Godsticks – Inescapable
Isle Of The Cross – Excelsis
Demons & Wizards – III
Vredehammer – Viperous
H.E.A.T – H.E.A.T II
Psychotic Waltz – The God-Shaped Void
Into The Open – Destination Eternity
Lunarsea – Earthling/Terrestre
Pure Wrath – The Forlorn Soldier EP
Sylosis – Cycle of Suffering
Sepultura – Quadra
Dyscordia – Delete / Rewrite
Godthrymm – Reflections
On Thorns I Lay – Threnos
God Dethroned – Illuminati
Fragment Soul – A Soul Inhabiting Two Bodies
Mariana Semkina – Sleepwalking
Mini Album Reviews: Moloken, The Driftwood Sign & Midnight
Serenity – The Last Knight
Ihsahn – Telemark EP
Temperance – Viridian
Blasphemer – The Sixth Hour
Deathwhite – Grave Image
Marko Hietala – Pyre Of The Black Heart
SWMM – Trail Of The Fallen
Into Pandemonium – Darkest Rise EP
Bonded – Rest In Violence
Serious Black – Suite 226
Darktribe – Voici L’Homme
Brothers Of Metal – Emblas Saga
A Life Divided – Echoes
Thoughts Factory – Elements

You can also check out my other reviews from previous years right here:

2019 reviews
2018 reviews
2017 reviews
2016 reviews
2015 reviews