DATE OF INTERVIEW:
MORS PRINCIPIUM EST
21st December 2014
METAL DISCOVERY: Congrats on the new album, ĎDawn Of The 5th Eraí; a very engaging listen throughout all the songs. Did it meet your own expectations of what you set out to achieve with the music?
ANDY: Thank you. Iíd have to say it has met my expectations, yes. The process of writing the material was so long and meticulous that it had to really. There was a lot of material that wasnít used and we were very careful and particular as to what would make it onto this album. There is never any room for fillers.
(Andy Gillion on Mors Principium Est's creative individuality)
"People often compare us to Insomnium or Children Of Bodom, and I just donít really get that. I couldnít compare us to anyone and if I did, Iíd be listening to them, because I write music that I want to hear."
Interview by Mark Holmes
Official Mors Principium Est Website:
MORS PRINCIPIUM EST DISCOGRAPHY
Originating in Finland back in 1999, melodic deathsters Mors Principium Est seem to have experienced their fair share of guitarist changes in recent years, and are currently constituted by multi-national personnel, with axemen from both France and England. Recently releasing their fifth studio album, the aptly titled 'Dawn of the 5th Era', an accomplished suite of neo-classical-tinged, melodically-charged, death metal songs with an engaging variance in dynamics, their musical journey continues with what many critics are declaring their best work to date. Brit guitarist Andy Gillion and frontman Ville Viljanen discuss the band's new era with Metal Discovery...
Mors Principium Est - promo shot
Photograph copyright © 2014 Uncredited
ANDY GILLION; VILLE VILJANEN
Official Mors Principium Est Facebook:
Thanks to Mike Exley for arranging the interview.
The Unborn (2005)
Liberation = Termination (2007)
...and Deah Said Live (2012)
Dawn of the 5th Era (2014)
MD: Does the title refer simply to the fact itís your fifth album and maybe a fifth era for the band in terms of new members, or is there any deeper, philosophical meaning behind it?
ANDY: Itís partly because we have a new line-up, but also it reflects where the band is now in terms of our discography, yes. Each album has its own sound within the genre and this again is a new era of MPE. Itís not forgetting the old and it still maintains the same philosophy and style, but itís a new level for the band.
MD: Thereís a very dark, apocalyptic feel to many of the lyrics, so what are some of the themes covered in the songs?
ANDY: Iíll let Ville answer this one... but I can speak for the couple of songs that I wrote lyrics for. ĎGod Has Fallení follows the story of angels seeking vengeance on man for mankindís evil. And ĎMonster In Meí is about a man who canít forgive himself for those he killed in battle.
VILLE: I really do not want to explain my lyrics too much. It's much more fun to let the listener make their own decisions on what the song is about. But yeah, sometimes the lyrics are a bit apocalyptic.
MD: The cover art by Alexander von Wieding is quite different, with an almost cartoonish image of a skeletal effigy overseeing and wreaking what looks like some kind of destruction on different worlds. Again, is this representative of an apocalyptic theme?
VILLE: The "prophet reaper" was already on the cover of our last album, and I wanted to keep him in this one as well. I just told Alexander what kind of lyrics we usually have and he listened to our old songs. I told him that I wanted the "prophet reaper" to be in the cover again and I wanted the cover to be cartoonish; this is what he did. :)
MD: Thereís a neo-classical vibe in some passages of music through the melodies, both subtle and then more emphatic. Has neo-classicism within the metal genre been an influence (players such as Yngwie Malmsteen, Jason Becker, Marty Friedman perhaps), or are you more directly influenced by classical music in general?
ANDY: I love classical music. It was the first music I ever heard and the first I ever attempted to play. So, I guess in one sense Iím inspired directly by those musicians...; Beethoven, Chopin, etc... But one of my biggest influences as a guitarist also comes from the neo-classical shredders as youíve named, right; Jason Becker, Vinnie Moore, Yngwie. Iím a big fan of that era and sound and itís a big part of my style, so itís cool that itís come across on the new album!
MD: One of your guitarists, Andhe Chandler, of course left this year and was replaced by Kevin Verlay. Did that affect the recording of the album in any positive or negative ways; maybe delaying the process?
ANDY: I donít think it had any effect really, no, because neither Andhe nor Kevin wrote songs for the new album. I had almost finished writing the music for ĎDawn Of The 5th Eraí when Kevin joined, so unfortunately he was too late to contribute.
MD: I gather Kevin was already involved with the band as a live session guitarist last year, so was he the immediate and natural choice to replace Andhe?
ANDY: Yeah, it was an obvious choice really. Kevin originally filled in for me when I couldnít make the Japanese tour back in 2012. And he then filled in for Teemu (on bass), when we toured with The Agonist last year. We knew we worked well with him and heís a great guitarist, so it was an easy decision.
MD: I understand that the five year period between your third album in 2007, ĎLiberation = Terminationí, and fourth in 2012, Ď...And Death Said Liveí, was predominantly due to line-up problems involving guitarists. Do you feel that guitarists are to Mors Principium Est what drummers are to Spinal Tap?!
ANDY: Haha; Iíve never heard that comparison before, but yeah, perhaps...? Although, I donít think the old guitarists are dying quite as often.
MD: More seriously, do you feel you now have a solid and stable line-up since Kevin has joined?
ANDY: Nothing is ever really stable when youíre in a band. Being in a band is a completely irrational thing to do. None of us is sure why we do it - itís just something we feel we have to do. Itís hard to feel stable because itís not a stable lifestyle. Youíve just got to keep doing it as long as you can and try to keep the dream alive.
MD: Melodic death metal has been a long established subgenre, ever since the good old days of the Gothenburg scene and, I guess, Michael Amott era Carcass. However, with so many bands now associated with the subgenre (be that through self-proclamation, or record label blurb and press branding), has it become increasingly difficult to try and stand out from the pack?
ANDY: For me, MPE has always stood out from the pack. Personally, thereís not much metal that I can really get into, but MPE really appealed to me as a fan (before I joined the band) and I think the style of music is pretty unique. People often compare us to Insomnium or Children Of Bodom, and I just donít really get that. I couldnít compare us to anyone and if I did, Iíd be listening to them, because I write music that I want to hear. I donít think there are many heavy bands with such a melodic drive as us and Iím proud of that.
MD: Obviously it must be flattering when your music gets compared to some of the bigger names in the subgenre, like Dark Tranquillity, In Flames, At the Gates, Children of Bodom etc, but apart from some stylistic similarities, those four bands, like yourselves, are all distinct from one each other. Do you also find it frustrating when people resort to lazy journalism by making the same empty comparisons, over and over?
ANDY: As I hinted above, I wouldnít say itís frustrating, just a bit misleading. I think there was a sticker on our previous album that said, ďFor fans of In Flames and Children Of BodomĒ, and I just couldnít get my head around that. Iím not saying I donít like those bands - itís just the music sounds nothing like them to me. Then maybe it does say something if the media are struggling to compare us to other bands? It must mean weíve got something special going on and thereís no point doing the same thing as anyone else.
MD: You mentioned the last time you were over in the UK (for The Agonistís 2013 European tour) earlierÖ do you hope to be able to get back over here soon for more shows?
ANDY: Well, I live in Bristol, so Iím here all the time unless Iím on tour elsewhere. Bringing the band to the UK to play to my friends was amazing and I canít wait to do it again. I just hope we land another awesome tour like that and get the opportunity. Plus, getting to see your girlfriend back home really breaks up a tour nicely!
MD: With you in the band Andy, what are some of the strangest things youíve taught the others about UK culture and customs?
ANDY: Haha; Iím looking forward to reading Villeís comments on this one! Iíve tried to teach them some good, old fashioned English manners but I donít think theyíre getting it. One thing Mikko especially has picked up on is that I put crisps in my sandwiches..., which is apparently British (I donít think it is)? Iíve got him doing that now, anyway. Oh, and he also loves HP Sauce now too.
VILLE: I am sorry Andy, but I have to say that I have not learned anything from you. Hah hah. Oh well; actually he did try to teach me one thing. He said I should not shout "Oi" to people that much.
MD: And the contrary of that; what weird and wonderful lessons have you been taught about Finnish culture and customs?
ANDY: I didnít realise how much I hated liquorice before I met them. Salted liquorice is even worse, but theyíre mad for it over there. Also they drink way too much coffee and smoke too much. I love Finland but could never live there. There isnít a single curry house as far as I can tell...; they literally have no idea. Iím thinking of opening my own place up there Ė huge gap in the market!
MD: Finally, are you aware that anagrams of your band name are: Ice Spirits Mum Porn; Mincer Opium Strips; Scummier Prison Pit; Crispier Imp Mounts; Pricier Mint Possum; Incites Pimp Rumors; Seismic Turnip Prom; and Eroticism Nips Rump? Future song titles, may I suggest? Side project names?
ANDY: Iím already designing the cover art for ĎPricier Mint Possumís debut record.
MD: Thanks for your time, and best of luck with the album when itís out!
ANDY: Thanks a lot and hopefully weíll be playing some more UK shows soon!