Review Summary: Veteran metallers take confident steps on very thin ice
Melodic death metal artists in this day and age have been forced into the corner of a burning building. The decision of whether they should expand their sound and try something different (In Flames, Children of Bodom) or stay formulaically consistent while trying to avoid stagnation (Dark Tranquillity, Insomnium) is an extremely difficult one. While a dim light was ignited from releases like Surgical Steel
and The Living Infinite
, this year has seen it all but snuffed out by the most uninspired works of several important bands’ careers. With both worshippers and idols alike crashing down around them, what direction would MPE take" The decision ends up an unsurprising one, but that shouldn’t be confused with a disappointing one. Here, they cut all the fat and slam their foot down on the throttle, refusing to let up for 50 straight minutes of lean melodic death metal. These guys aren’t the heroes that will save the drowning genre, but they can keep its head above water just a little while longer.
Instead of expanding their boundaries and doubling up on the electronic influences that reared their ugly head 2 albums ago, Mors Principium Est decide to go back to basics and focus on the riffs. While …And Death Said Live
had remarkable riffing diversity, the thrash and metalcore elements were overshadowed by extravagant melodic passages, and the momentum was killed between genre transitions and interludes. In 2014, MPE have taken a step back and decided to adhere to the age-old adage “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” – by focusing their efforts on the base of their sound as opposed to pushing their limits, they have come out sounding rejuvenated. This slight stylistic shift is most evident when comparing the mid-album interlude ‘Apricity’ with the titular ‘…And Death Said Live’ from their previous offering. In the past, the interludes would meander and rove about, fruitlessly searching for a purpose in the scheme of the album. Comparatively, ‘Apricity’ has a very straightforward structure, progressively building in intensity before throwing the listener headlong into the fiery ‘Wrath of Indra’. It’s simple and unsurprising, but more importantly, it's effective.
The best thing about Dawn of the 5th Era
is that the band have only stepped back on some fronts. The most notable facets of their past works still shine through here, though refined and streamlined to suit their renewed vigour. The electronic effects are applied with the lightest of touches, and songs like ‘We Are The Sleep’ and ‘Monster in Me’ benefit greatly from these additions. There is still enough thrash to bang your head, enough melody to sate the most dedicated Gothenburg devotee and enough death metal to stay true to its roots. However, there’s still that omnipresent sense of deja vu; have you heard that part before" The answer is yes, you probably have. It’s an album that flies the straight and narrow path alongside its influences, and exists hand in hand with their past. All these influences are distilled and refined to an admirable degree, but there’s nothing ground-breaking here. This is no-frills, balls-to-the-wall melodic death metal at its finest; but that’s all there is to it.
While the guitar has always been the primary driving factor, the rest of the band refuse to stand still. The vocalist has sharpened his teeth and is clearly more suited to these concise compositions. He still has a very limited range and isn’t exactly adventurous, but by doubling down on his aggression, the music becomes that bit more evocative. Though he occasionally resorts to tired themes and juvenile hooks (“MY NAME IS WAAARRRRR”), songs like ‘Wrath of Indra' (Hindu mythology) and ‘God Has Fallen’ (Christian deicide) provide enough topical variation to keep this from dragging the album down. The drummer is now less focused on expanding his repertoire and works on fleshing the tracks out, becoming an invaluable asset in carrying momentum when the guitars appease their more melodic sensibilities, exemplified in the monolithic closing track ‘The Forsaken’. No one person holds this work back, and the band’s unified march towards a very definite goal makes this release inches more captivating and satisfying than anything in their back catalogue.
More of the same shouldn’t be seen exclusively as a bad thing, especially in a genre so fraught with re-treading worn ground. If you’re sick and tired of this tried and true formula, this album won’t change your mind. However, in a similar manner to Soilwork last year and Insomnium earlier this year, Dawn of the 5th Era
proves that with just a little bit of focus and determination, even the most tired and overwrought music can sound fresh and exciting. The ice is getting pretty thin, but these veteran metallers know the right path to tread, and walk it with a confidence rarely seen in their peers.
Album Rating: 4.0
I ended up speaking more poorly of their last album than I intended to. It should be noted that I gave it a 3.5, it just sounds quite clunky and unrefined next to this one. Constructive criticism is welcomed and appreciated!
Digging: Desire (POR) - Infinity... A Timeless Journey
Album Rating: 3.0
finally a review for this, good job dude ;_;
Album is really good, melodeath still can be good
Haven't listened to this band in years but I kinda feel like checking this out.
Album Rating: 4.0
Yeah I was surprised it didn't already have one, I got a hold of the album a bit late but something this solid deserves a little something. It's nothing special, but I'm a sucker for melodic dm, and they do the basics so well.
Album Rating: 4.0
@Crysis, if you dug they're last album, you'll dig this. I think it's their best release, would give it a 3.8 if I could be more specific
honestly, I'm digging your style. pretty opposite to mine ofc, but you pull off in-depth descriptions and pepper it with cool descriptors and analogies too. if it's the 'professional' reviewing style you're after, you've got it pretty much nailed down IMO. my only gripe with it is personal, so idk if there's any point criticizing it, but I just find this review style is a bit tedious for me to read, especially since it's not a genre I'm really into. people who are a fan of this band will read this, but people just clicking on your review to check it out might be a bit put off by the content. I try to make my reviews as accessible as I can so people who aren't familiar with the band/album in question might be more likely to check the band out (hopefully). I think you'd benefit in the future from trimming down some of the content that you think isn't as important, and highlighting the stuff that really makes this an exciting piece and worth checking out.
also, I think this review caters towards already-establsihed fans of the band, as you make a lot of comparisons to previous stuff. I had to re-read the review a couple times to catch the gist of what you were saying
that's all I have for 'criticism'. just personal nitpicks.
Really nice rev. In the same boat as Kyle, I didn't even realize they had a new album. I barely even listened to their previous one one damn
Album Rating: 4.0
Cheers Johnny, always appreciate the feedback. I do prefer writing in the more objective/professional style, and leave the emotional writing for albums of personal importance. Your style definitely suits the lesser-known new releases you tend towards reviewing, but for an artist in a genre as decorated/reviled as mdm I thought the detail was warranted. It is one of my longest reviews so far though, I'll try to trim where I can
Cheers @Key. It's worth checking out if you were interested in their last, but realistically it's not going to make any new fans. Just a slab of run-of-the-mill mdm done right
Yeah dude, I'm just not a melodeath fan tbh so a lot of the details don't really click with me as much, but I feel ya
I really like your style keep it up. There's definitely something to be said for lengthier more descriptive reviews, and as Johnny pointed out it reads almost professionally.
Digging: Wild Pink - Yolk in the Fur
sweet review, i like this more than the last one tbh
. . . And Death Said Live was a blistering album full of hundred-mile-an-hour ass-kicking riffs but it was marred by some of the worst production this side of 1950. This album's production is slightly improved, albeit imperfect, but the songs aren't quite as strong. Still, a worthy addition to my collection. MPE is sick.
yea, love these guys
Excellent review CTD as always, although I second what Johnny said although to a lesser degree. I found the review to be an interesting read but I agree that the comparisons to earlier albums, without describing that albums sound, are a little difficult to follow.
Digging: Alghazanth - Eight Coffin Nails
Love the review man, especially the concluding paragraph. Pos'd, def need to check this.
Saw this in HMV yesterday, kinda wish I picked it up (went for Tchaikovsky's Pathétique and Autechre instead).
'These guys aren’t the heroes that will save the drowning genre, but they can keep its head above water just a little while longer.'
This was a great sentence, review was damn fine as well. Pos'd!
Pos, nice review and I only heard one track of this, I will listen to the entire album.
Digging: Kamasi Washington - Heaven And Earth
Album Rating: 4.0
No regrets, Pathetique and Autechre (depending on the release) are worth it. It's definitely worth giving a spin if you're a fan of this sort of thing though. Appreciate the kind words guys
This band was always one of my favorites in the genre, will definitely be checking this out
pretty sweet melodeath