Released: 2007, Listenable Records
Reviewer: Lord of the Wasteland
Whereas most Finnish bands tend to lean towards the power metal end of the spectrum, Mors Principium Est embrace the sounds of Swedish melodic death and Northern European thrash. Fans of Dark Tranquillity, The Haunted and pre-NATURAL BORN CHAOS Soilwork will find much to love about this band but rather than mimic the former glories of those acts, Mors Principium Est delivers a ripping slice of modern melodic death on their third release, LIBERATION=TERMINATION. The keyboards of Joona Kukola have been pushed back a little in the mix this time around allowing the guitarwork of Jarko Kokko and mainman Jori Haukio (who left the band after recording the album) to really shine. The riffs on LIBERATION=TERMINATION are among the best and most memorable heard recently and there are plenty of aggressive, yet melodic solos to be found, as well. A beefy rhythm section off-sets the rather standard vocals of Ville Viljanen but as a whole, Mors Principium Est has delivered an excellent melodic death album in LIBERATION=TERMINATION.
Certain “must-have” elements of the melodic death genre are apparent on tracks like “The Oppressed Will Rise,” “Sinners Defeat” and “It Is Done” with dizzying guitar solos and infectious riffs but Mors Principium Est also mixes things up here and there. Kukola provides a Euro club beat at the intro of “The Animal Within” and the song maintains an industrial tone that is as much Soilwork as it is Ministry with a driving, jackhammer kick drum that rattles the skull and a mystical, Eastern-influenced keyboard flourish that backs everything. Fans of Soilwork’s STEELBATH SUICIDE/A PREDATOR’S PORTRAIT era will find themselves waxing nostalgic on “Cleansing Rain,” the most immediately catchy track on the album, boasting outstanding riffs and machine gun drumming from Miko Sapola. What Dark Tranquillity has morphed into on DAMAGE DONE and CHARACTER, Mors Principium Est does on “Sinners Defeat” and “It Is Done” as Kokko and Haukio unleash a barrage of quick, meaty riffs that fight for domination with Kukola’s tinkling, atmospheric keyboards. Sequencing the slower-paced “The Distance Between” in the middle of the second half of the album works surprisingly well and with the heaviest and fastest cuts—“It Is Done” and “Terminal Liberation”—bordering on the thrash antics of The Haunted and Hatesphere, it becomes immediately apparent that Mors Principium Est is far from just another band hitching up to the Gothenburg bandwagon. Even the ambient, mid-paced instrumental, “Lost Beyond Retrieval,” is spared from being a throwaway album closer by possessing electrifying riffs and plenty of flashy guitar runs during the solo.
LIBERATION=TERMINATION enters into some crowded waters but Mors Principium Est have carved themselves out a comfortable place in the melodic death market over the course of three albums to distance themselves from the trend-jumpers. The roots are familiar but there is enough originality to allow Mors Principium Est to call themselves leaders rather than followers on LIBERATION=TERMINATION. Fans of soaring guitar leads and inspiring riffs who thought all had been lost on recent efforts by Arch Enemy, Soilwork, etc. need look no further than the always-reliable Finnish kings of melodic death. However, the burning question remains: With the departure of chief songwriter, Jori Haukio, what does the future hold for Mors Principium Est? Only time will tell but in the meantime, sit back and enjoy…
KILLER KUTS: “The Oppressed Will Rise,” “The Animal Within,” “Cleansing Rain,” “Sinners Defeat,” “It Is Done,” “Terminal Liberation”