Though originally a Finland-born group, Mors Principium Est has been one of the last few decades’ foremost carriers of the Swedish “Gothenburg sound” of melodic death metal. Though in more recent years the band’s lineup has seen the addition of a few non-Scandinavian members, the pulse-pounding rhythms and razorblade pedal-note riffage hasn’t changed. The band’s latest effort, Embers of a Dying World, releases to the rest of the world on February 10th, having enjoyed an early release in Japan on January 25th.
Fans have come to rely on Mors Principium Est for their consistent quality and highly melodic sensibilities. The band specializes in taking the Gothenburg sound – which many believe to have already given everything it can to the world – and proving that there is still plenty of life left in the tried-and-true style. As such, those who are familiar with the band’s previous efforts will find themselves quite comfortable on this year’s entry, though that is not to say that the band doesn’t have a few surprises this time around.
Programmed orchestral elements have always been featured on Mors Principium Est’s albums to varying degrees, but on Embers, there does seem to be slightly more emphasis placed on the grandiose. The intro to the album offers a cinematic buildup to the lead single “Reclaim the Sun”, which features an intense pre-chorus which punctuates itself with massive orchestral stabs. Some tracks relegate the orchestral layer to the back to act as more of a texture, while others such as “Apprentice of Death” introduce the main hook on classical instruments before diving into neck-crushing territory. As a consequence of this, however, the album does seem to favor the more deliberate, mid-tempo headbanger over blazing speed metal rippers such as previous tracks “Wrath of Indra” or “Departure”. In fact, the lack of such standouts does hinder Embers, despite the band’s unquestionably solid songwriting throughout.
One of the album’s standout tracks comes halfway through the record in the form of the song “Death is the Beginning” – which, interestingly enough, is also the English translation of the band’s Latin name. An immensely emotional ode and as close to a ballad as these metalheads could feasibly stray, the song treats listeners to a wonderfully melodic lead guitar hook and a gorgeous guest vocal performance. The song explores a welcome, vulnerable side of Mors Principium Est that the shredders rarely touch upon, and it certainly leaves a lasting impression for this reason.
Overall, Embers of a Dying World is a steadfast addition to a long catalog of high-quality melodeath. The growls, riffs, and blast beats that fans have come to love are all present here, with ample helpings of epic orchestration to boot. Though the lack of any new signature thrash-fests does prevent the album from topping some of their previous efforts, it earns more than enough points for taking a few worthwhile detours and backing up every song with clean production, memorable melodies, and plenty of Scandinavian fire.
Visit Mors Principium Est and order the new album at their website here.