Musical depth is in abundance on "The Unborn", the second album from Finland's MORS PRINCIPIUM EST. Somewhere around the third listen, the confluence of the choral synth work, melodic prowess, and punishing death/thrash metal (Swedish style) overtakes the listener. Taking the aggression of a CENTINEX (and pieces of the layered approach of latter-day DARKANE) and surrounding it with lush orchestration (including the occasional gothic style female vocal) makes the album more bombastic and somewhat more experimental than the average platter of melodic Scandinavian death metal. I would not go so far as to call it boundary-pushing, as the bludgeoning arrangements still remind one of the genre leaders, but it is no run of the mill exercise in death metal futility.
Moving further into the recesses of the disc, one often feels as though a trick has been played. An initial focus on the electronic effects, the beautiful female singing, or the lush orchestration can make one forget, if only momentarily, the sheer devastation of the raging death metal powering this beast. Taken together, the effect can be overwhelming. Once settled into the album's groove, its beauty-and-the-beast qualities rise to the surface. Album opener "Pure" represents the height of the band's challenging mix, the title track and "Fragile Flesh" close behind. Stripping away some of the flavoring reveals that "Two Steps Away" is the album's most brutally grooving death metal/thrash basher, albeit with a chorus that sticks with you the second or third time through. The dreamy synth lines are worked into the arrangements in such a way as to heighten the quality without lessening the impact. The cover of MEGADETH's "Blood of Heroes" (one of two bonus tracks on the limited edition digipack) is well done.
MORS PRINCIPIUM EST is clearly on to something with "The Unborn". I am not prepared to crown them the new kings (I'm impressed, not blown away), but this is definitely a band to watch and an album to check out.