As I get older and scruffier, the music I like also gets older and scruffier. Part of me, though, will always appreciate Century Media-style metal: strong, precise, overproduced to the hilt. It has a fist-pumping appeal lacking in, say, black metal or the NeurIsis sound. A recent black metal show reminded me of this; most of the guitarists were literally limp-wristed, as they were doing tremolo picking or fast strumming. Somehow, that seemed so un-metal.

Mors Principium Est has been satisfying my fist-pumping jones recently. This Finnish band plays melodic death metal with keyboard touches - like a million other bands. However, MPE has gotten the sound down to an exact science. The harmonic territory is not the most exciting, so songwriting becomes crucial, and here it's perfect. The riffs are catchy, the transitions are logical, and the performances are tight and occasionally insanely shredding.

The speed here - or, rather, the feeling of it - is impressive. The band actually isn't that fast, but it's found the upper reaches of tempos that physically feel fast; any faster, and the body can't keep up. Slayer will always have more physical impact than Nile for this reason. I wish the album had more detours like its half-speed last song so as not to feel like such a sprint. That said, the songs' tempos do vary slightly, and their sequencing generally spaces things out.

"The Animal Within" begins with a dodgy electronic intro that recalls the crazy rave scene at the beginning of Blade. Then the goth club becomes a metal show, and everything is all right - raining blood, indeed. Liberation = Termination is out in Europe and Japan, but I've seen conflicting US release dates, so keep checking your favorite distros. You can also buy it directly from Listenable.