Mors Principium Est - The Unborn
Listenable Records
Gothenburg Melodeath
10 songs (45:24)
Release year: 2005
Mors Principium Est, Listenable Records
Reviewed by Vrechek
Archive review

Every once in awhile I get that itch. Some of you metalheads with taste of the more extreme nature might know what I'm talking about here. Sometimes I feel like going back to the roots of what introduced me to Extreme Metal: I want to listen to some accessible and quickly digestible Gothenburg Melodeath. I want to forget about all those elitist jerkwads who spat venom all over Slaughter of the Soul and Heartwork and just bang my head like the good days of old when it didn't matter if it was “real” Death Metal or not. Of course, when I get this itch for basic, heavy, and melodic Metal dressed up in Death Metal trappings, there's quite a lot to choose from. Most of it is garbage. However, there are a few bands who play in the Gothenburg style and manage to not royally screw it up. These bands rarely go outside the usual Gothenburg Trinity worship (for the uninformed, that's At The Gates, In Flames, and Dark Tranquillity), but manage to make a quite enjoyable product. Finnish band Mors Principium Est's The Unborn is one such album that makes me put aside all my hoity-toity artistic demands and just rock out.

I first heard The Unborn a few years ago when I was still in love with Gothenburg Melodeath, and while I have yet to hear the other releases in Mors Principium Est's discography, I would think that this album is representative of their style. What we have here is a formula that utilizes a bed of low, chugging guitars along with an assortment of riffing styles to make up an average song: most of them are either small, piece-meal melodic bites, which are a little more typical of modern Melodeath sound, or a healthy dosage of down-tuned Iron Maiden worship riffs and solos in the old-school tradition. Every once in awhile we get pretty cool Death/Thrash riffs or some other taste of Extreme Metal. Permeating the album is a semi-unique Industrial/Dance/Drum and Bass atmosphere, somewhat reminiscent of Soilwork's earlier material, and this is sometimes explicitly heard in little synth breaks or backgrounds. It's not quite as big a part of the band's sound as say, the keyboards in Dark Tranquillity's newer releases, but they are heard often enough to be memorable and add a lot of atmosphere to what is otherwise a pretty stark style (one of the major failings of the sub-genre for me).

Still not being particularly original, the production is much like that of other newer Melodeath bands, with a sound so clean and crisp it makes a kvlt-kiddie's blood boil with purist rage. The drums are clicky and mechanical almost to the point of annoyance, but certainly aid the cold, synthetic feel of the album. Oddly enough though, the guitars manage to be pretty full and thick-sounding with plenty of kick to propel the melodies, not to mention they help make the thrashy Death Metal riffs sound more legitimate.

However, both the performance and production of the vocals leave something to be desired: the vocals are quite boring even by Gothenburg standards and rarely do anything but detract from the music at hand (sadly giving credence to those outside the Metal fandom who say “Death Metal would be alright without those cookie monster yadda yadda”) The vocalist utilizes a dry-sounding half Hardcore shout, half mid-range growl, and rarely changes it up. The only true variety found in that department is the occasional appearance of a female singer who is either underused or overused depending on your stance, though she doesn't really sing any lyrics. Personally I would have rather heard her much more or not at all, depending on whether I preferred this album to be more on the melodic or brutal side.

The songs typically follow Gothenburg verse-chorus patterns and are all of similar length and structure, so the album can get a bit tiring. The back half of the album is much stronger and more worthwhile than the front end, but there are cool parts to the beginning that make it worth listening to. If I had creative control over this band, I'd throw out all but a few bits from the first half (the nifty Death Metal riffs on Parasites of Paradise, Two Steps Away, and Altered State Consciousness, a few of the solos, oh! and the awesome opening riff of Pure) and just start with Spirit Conception as your token “soft” intro track. I'd then take those pieces cannibalized from the beginning of the album and bolster up the 3 songs following Spirit Conception, reducing repetition and making them have more replay value. With just a little fine-tuning, the best song on the album (Pressure) could be made into an epic monster of a technical and proggy Melodeath/Melodic Death Metal song that leads into the ethereal cool-off track The Glass Womb. There you have it! Five song EP. Go off and win praise from critics who hail your little release as the greatest Gothenburger since A Celebration of Guilt.

So in the end we have an enjoyable, unoriginal, and quite worthwhile release in Mors Principium Est's discography. If you're absolutely sick to death of the Gothenburg Sound and never want to hear another In Flames song in your life (I wouldn't blame you), then don't bother checking out this band. If you're new to Extreme Metal, having just come off the Power Metal boat, you'll probably lap this up. If you couldn't really care less about sub-genre bias, you'll probably find this good for a few spins at least. Yes, there is much better, more original, and more emotional Melodeath out there (and from the same country as these guys), but The Unborn is by no means the worst of the 2005 Melodeath crop. You could certainly do much worse . . . COUGH Soundtrack to Your Escape COUGH

Killing Songs :
Parasites of Paradise, The Unborn, Pressure
Vrechek quoted 80 / 100
Other albums by Mors Principium Est that we have reviewed:
Mors Principium Est - Embers of a Dying World reviewed by Alex and quoted 85 / 100
Mors Principium Est - Liberation = Termination reviewed by Aleksie and quoted 84 / 100
Mors Principium Est - Inhumanity reviewed by Alex and quoted 73 / 100
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