Review Summary: MPE reaches the apogee of their career with the most mature, varied yet distinct album yet.
Mors Principium Est are, or used to be a melodeath band who only took two albums to craft their distinct sound. The indubitably enjoyable yet slitghtly same-ish "The Unborn" marked the previous peak of their creative heritage, followed by "Liberation = Termination", which turned out to be comparatively lackluster and inappropriately adventurous with electronics.
Well, this album is an altogether different story. Replacing their two guitarists has left them almost an entirely different band, so much life is breathed into the compositions that one could probably mistake them for another act. Moreover, they have completely overcome the flaws that the previous albums had, the technical ones as well as the songwriting-related ones. The production on the album finally isn't weird or one-dimensional, as its predecessors felt, and the vocals are finally appropriately mixed and not drowned out by the instruments.
However, the biggest asset of this album is its unpredictability. While melodic death metal is a genre stalwartly defined in its goals (those being the invokement of emotions in the listener via the melodies used), much of the genre suffers of predictability. Although the melodies are often nothing short of beautiful, even leading bands such as Insomnium or Be'lakor can fall into the trap of "I know exactly how the riff is gonna end before it's even halfway through" with some songs. Well, MPE seems to have really coped with this problem on "...And Death Said Live". Many of the riffs are pretty non-standard, both for the band and their entire traditionalist-leaning branch of melodeath.
The melodies themselves are also very rewarding and seem much more vivid than those from the previous albums. Practically each song contains at least one highlight riff, hence it would be rather difficult if not pointless to try and name the standout tracks from this release. The tone of the album is definitely darker than the almost silly "Liberation = Termination" - it would not be a stretch to say that this time the guys are trespassing quite far into Ritual-era The Black Dahlia Murder's teritory (although definitely not quite as heavy). While electronics do flourish here and there, they're definitely more skillfully and tastefully used than on "Liberation = Termination", while overall the album is more orchestral than electronic leaning. The two new guitarists Andy Gillion and Andhe Chandler, in addition to their very, very adequate songwriting skills also provide leads of quality previously undreamed of by Mors Principium Est - almost each track is graced with a technically impressive yet profoundly artistic lead.
Everything about this album is just... tight, hard to put it any other way. Not only the previously mentioned TBDM can be clearly heard in the riff structures and melodies - sometimes you can hear In Mourning, sometimes Norther and Kalmah. All of those joined seamlessly into convincing and really, really entertaining compositions. The band obviously is looking for a new sound, and it is amazing how quickly they're succeeding at it.
I feel the only way this album could have been any better would be if it had a more appropriate album closer. While "Dead Winds of Hope" is a fantastic track in its own right, it seems to lack the defining factors of a memorable closer, ones that each of the previous albums' closers possessed. Also, the only instrumental songs on the album are the intro and title track, and both are painfully short when compared to the stunning "The Glass Womb" or "Lost Beyond Retrieval". Still, if any comparisons are forgotten, in the end the tracks recorded on this here album are just so good that you won't care at all.
Mors Principium Est have really outdone themselves this time. "...And Death Said Live" is a fantastic melodeath album, which can easily be recommended as a suitable introduction to the genre. But in my opinion, even more attention should be paid to it by melodeath veterans, most of whom are well aware of the genre's predictability and lack of adventurousness. Well this is adventurous the right way. You should be in for a hot, or at least warm surprise here.