Artist: More Principium Est
Album Title: Dawn Of The 5th Era
Label: AFM Records
Year of Release: 2014
Based on the number of strong releases throughout 2014, AFM Records are rapidly becoming one of my favourite record labels. Not only have they brought us the insanely brilliant ‘Hymns For The Broken’ from Evergrey, ‘The Heart of the Matter’ by Triosphere bears their logo too. And now we have ‘Dawn Of The 5th Era’, unsurprisingly the fifth album from Finnish metallers Mors Principium Est.
The first thing to say is that this album has a super sound. These days, polished productions are relatively easy to come by; so long as you have a decent budget, the tools are there to make the job simpler than ever before. But too often, that perfect production can then rob the material of a certain amount of authenticity. Admittedly, the sound has been compressed quite a bit and the bass could be higher in the mix but these minor ailments are quickly forgotten because this album otherwise successfully brings together a modern clarity with a demonstrable old-school feel. The result is an album that’s a joy to listen to but which also has a gritty, almost dirty underbelly.
And then, compositionally speaking, I would be prepared to stick my neck out and say that this is the best body of work that Mors Principium Est have ever created. Over the course of their fifteen year, five album career, the quintet have already released some cracking material but this is their best and I have no hesitation in putting it in the same bracket as At The Gates’ new Opus, making ‘dawn Of The 5th Era’ one of my favourite melodic death metal albums of 2014.
At the forefront on the Mors Principium Est sound, you’re treated to a enthralling blend of savagery, brutality and beauty. For every razor sharp riff, there’s a melodic dual guitar harmony and for every blast of uncompromising extremity, there’s a majestic chorus or a memorable lead break. The end result is a well-balanced, finely-honed set of songs that is very impressive indeed and which should appeal many.
The album begins with ‘Enter The Asylum’, a short instrumental intro that builds the tension before first song proper, ‘God Has Fallen’ wastes no time in ripping your head off in fine style. The pace is fast, the rhythm section courtesy of drummer Mikko Sipola and bassist Teemu Heinola is powerful and some incisive riffing is overlaid with a catchy lead guitar line, topped off by the gruff yet intelligible vocals of Ville Viljanen.
‘Leader Of The Titans’ swiftly follows and impresses thanks to an ambitious construction all the while supported by instantly gratifying melodic intent. It’s one of the standout tracks on the album as far as I’m concerned. But then again, such is the consistency here, just about every track is a highlight. ‘We Are The Sleep’ is ushered in with the help of some subtle electronics before offering one of the most epic and catchiest choruses on the album, one that’s mildly reminiscent of mid era Dark Tranquillity. It’s a big track and a massive high point for the album too.
‘Innocence Lost’ pays yet more homage to the classic sounds of the 90s with a sharp, penetrating central riff before ‘I Am War’ takes over, quickly becoming my favourite song on the album. The mid-section is simply to die for with a gigantic mid-tempo melody followed by some stunning lead guitar trade offs and duelling between non-Finnish guitarists Andy Gillion and Kevin Verlay. I might just have listened to this track a few times on repeat, but can you blame me?
Interestingly, as the album develops, Mors Principium Est increase the black metal influences within their death metal blueprint. ‘Monster In Me’, has a definite echo of Dissection about it, particularly within the core riffs and the song construction. Then, after a short instrumental interlude that again showcases some fantastically emotive lead guitar work, we’re hit with ‘Wrath Of Indra’ and ‘The Journey’, the latter of which is almost pure symphonic black metal worship. The opening staccato riffing accompanied by relentless blast beats and the subtle synths underneath all scream black metal and call to mind a Dissection-meets-Emperor hybrid with a dash of Dimmu Borgir for good measure. I really like it and it further demonstrates just how talented and versatile Mors Principium Est really are.
Finally, ‘The Forsaken’ closes the album just as impressively as it opened. It is the longest track on the album and begins serenely with a piano melody underpinned by gentle synths. However it doesn’t take long to increase in intensity thanks to some of the fastest material anywhere on the record and then one of the most uplifting sing-along choruses I’ve heard from this genre of music in many a year, meaning it’s likely to be big hit live.
As you can probably tell from this review, I’ve been hugely impressed by this record. Blending that classic melodic death metal sound with modern flourishes and properly memorable melodies, ‘Dawn Of The 5th Era’ demonstrates that Mors Principium Est are at the very top of their game. This is, without doubt, one of the extreme metal highlights of 2014.
The Score of Much Metal: 9.0
Check out my other album reviews here:
Arcade Messiah – Arcade Messiah
Triosphere – The Heart Of The Matter
Neonfly – Strangers In Paradise
Knight Area – Hyperdrive
Haken – Restoration
James LaBrie – Impermanent Resonance
Mercenary – Through Our Darkest Days
A.C.T. – Circus Pandemonium
Xerath – III
Big Big Train – English Electric (Part 1)
Thought Chamber – Psykerion
Marcus Jidell – Pictures From A Time Traveller
H.E.A.T – Tearing Down The Walls
Vanden Plas – Chronicles Of The Immortals: Netherworld