MORS PRINCIPIUM EST – the ruler of the underrated, but extremely potent bands out there. I hear more and more people who mention it, and heavy club djs have it in their playlists. It can’t be a bad situation then! But it’s surprising to see that Finland itself doesn’t know much of it. The band exists for several years and has 3 amazing albums. I will be very daring in praising them – not just because I love them, but also because those who had the chance to hear MPE share the same feelings. That is, if they have an appreciation for melodic death metal. It’s pretty much unlike CoB, Norther or other Finnish bands in the genre, instead being closer to Swedes like Dark Tranquillity, yet with some dark melodic side typical for Finland. While the guitar sounds in the typical Finnish way and thus outstands from the landscape, the bass and drums have much drive and make a strong base. The very fast guitar pace is sometimes crossed with electro elements, all being just a bit of spice to make MPE unique and to sustain the atmosphere. It’s no cheesy mix, no clean vs. growl vocals or other popular tricks. It’s like a storm, with very dark clouds gathering tight, and with fierce lightning dancing behind. Try ‘Pure‘, ‘The Lust Called Knowledge‘ or ‘Eternity’s Child‘ (amazing solo!). And, whether you like then or not, also listen to ‘Into illusion‘. This track is somehow apart from all the others. I think it’s a masterpiece with no genre, just Finnish metal. It starts with a slow part that grows gradually, very captivating. Soon comes the surprise element – Jori Haukio’s clean vocals, extremely soft and sad, in a low tone that just made want a whole album sung like that. Then plunges into a frenzy of harsh vocals and a chorus in which the drum is the king. The gradation keeps going to the end, with the same drum being the spine of it, now in a different pace. Stunning!
‘Inhumanity‘, the first album, was released in 2003, the golden year for Finnish metal in my opinion. ‘The Unborn‘ and ‘Liberation = Termination‘ followed. Every melodeath listener should have heard of these. It’s a band that might grow on you and provide a good moment whenever you’re looking for one. Also, if you’re a headbanger, there will be something serious to work it on!
SHADE EMPIRE, formed in Kuopio in 1999, exhibits a black metal with strong symphonic and electronic elements. I was quickly blown away, because these guys are not shy to incorporate in their music a strength that is rarely seen. This kind of majestic arrangements and atmosphere could put them in the gallery – with no exaggeration – next to DIMMU BORGIR, although they’re not aiming for any sort of ‘true black metal’ or Norwegian gloominess. Their tracks are driven by an intimidating force and darkness. However, instead of having just a sort of ‘black metal solid block’, we have an exciting long journey. The way SE puts the electronic elements is simply insane. In ‘Harvesters of Death’, for example, there is one part that reminds of creepy alien movies and it’s quite cool. ‘Victory’, after having displayed a fast and crushing guitar part, like the frenzy in a battle, ends with an unexpected but very well put saxophone melody. The well-known Marco Hietala joins the band to create a bitter, melodic and unforgettable chorus on ‘Human Sculpture’. This one is also my favorite lyric-wise, as otherwise I’m not too impressed by their writing skills or ideas. In the end, to be honest, I gave up caring about this, because the music is simply too much. Whenever and to whatever SE song I listen to, I find myself amazed at all the delicious effects and details they were able to mix. Juha Harju also plays bass in AJATTARA, another top band for me. Obviously I like my black metal to be diverse, with the dark, sinister atmosphere and anger mixed together. I listen to the ‘first wave’ too, but I’d rather have a daring and tasty mix.
I could recommend any song from this band. ‘Silver Fix’ has that kind of grandeur of symphonic black metal that’s just too thrilling. Yes, thrilling, that’s one good word for this band. Also,‘Pain and Pleasure’ would stop its anger for a lovely surprise, delivering a solemn, dark moment of tension.