News surfaced yesterday that the Finnish melodic death metal act Mors Principium Est had parted ways with main songwriter and guitarist Andy Gillion, who had been in the band for ten years. The announcement came via the band’s official social networks.
A few hours later, however, Gillion took to his own channels to post a lengthy statement detailing how he was fired by vocalist Ville Viljanen without his knowledge, explaining that Viljanen had made Gillion’s recent time in the band extremely stressful to the point of hospitalization. He added that Viljanen had forced him to carry the lion’s share of the songwriting without proper credit or compensation. Viljanen has since issued a rebuttal statement of his own.
Viljanen is now the sole member of the band, and has been the only original one remaining since 2017, when drummer Mikko Sipola quit (guitarist Jarkko Kokko left in 2009, and the other original members well before that). 13 members have quit the band since its formation in 1999.
First, the band’s (Viljanen’s) post:
“!!! STATUS UPDATE !!!
“To all our incredible fans:
“Andy Gillion is not a part of MORS PRINCIPIUM EST anymore.
“I want to thank Andy for the great albums we did together and I wish him
“the best of luck in the future.
“But fear not. This is NOT the end.
“Look for a BIG/GREAT announcement about MORS PRINCIPIUM EST, in the next couple of days.
“Long live MORS PRINCIPIUM EST!” Gillion’s own statement followed last night, and reads in full as follows: “It is with deep regret that I find myself writing this, but I will no longer be playing or writing music in Mors Principium Est. Firstly, I would like to take this opportunity to thank each and every person who has supported us and listened to the music during my time in the band, those who came to a show, bought an album, picked up some merch, or just showed their support or appreciation in whatever way they felt they could. You were the reason I kept going through all the difficult times and it was a pleasure to serve you with music for almost ten years. I have never put as much effort or passion into anything in my life as I have with this band, right up until the end. However, unfortunately there are some things I cannot stay silent about anymore.
“On 3rd August 2020, three months before the new album, “Seven”, was set to be released, I received a message from Ville saying, “you are not in MPE anymore.” I discovered that the record label had already been notified that I would be departing the band, without my knowledge, or consent. This was not a decision I was a part of and I certainly did not expect such an attempt to remove me from the band – just two weeks before the first single had even been released. After three years of hard work putting this album together, to have the joy of celebrating its release taken away from me as soon as I’d handed over my work, is a feeling I can’t begin to describe.
“After a difficult number of years of writing the music, recording guitars, programming synths, bass and orchestration for the new album, I was alarmed to discover that only a small percentage of lyrics had been written – just one month before the album was to be sent off for mixing. Under the pressure of the looming album deadline, I felt I had no choice but to begin writing lyrics myself.
“Days into the rush of writing lyrics, I was admitted to hospital, later diagnosed with a stress-related onset of hives. During my recovery, I was asked to write more lyrics. In order to salvage this project, the majority of the lyrics on this album (approx. 70%) were put together by myself in just a few weeks, sometimes submitted the same day the vocals were to be recorded.
“Shortly after completing the new album, I began to notice signs of what I believed was a plot to remove me from the band. I was informed by one of my endorsement companies that they had been told to separate Mors Principium Est products from my own and keep them on separate web pages. When the endorser asked why, slanderous comments were made claiming that I don’t care about the band, only about myself. Due to the nature of these accusations, the band was consequently dropped by the endorser. My personal endorsement, which I had been excited to share with the band, thankfully remained intact.
“I soon noticed that I had lost access to the band’s Spotify account. This was particularly concerning, given that I had written the music for the band for many years and was now being stripped of the right to view significant streaming data – just months before the new album launch. Ville admitted to removing my access and after asking why, I received messages stating that Mors Principium Est was his band and that I had merely joined his band.
“Decisions for the new album, such as choosing which songs were to be released as singles, were made without my knowledge. I wasn’t even asked to contribute to the “thank you” notes of the album I had worked so hard to put together.
“After being told I was no longer a part of the band, I discovered that my name had never been included in the record deal. Therefore, any money made from album sales was not legally owed to me. I felt unable to speak out about the truth of what had happened until I could ensure a deed had been signed to secure the royalties I am rightfully owed. Sadly, I believe that any profits I could have hoped to make from this album have now been lost to 9 months of legal fees.
“I felt that there had been some growing tension following the release of my solo record, ‘Neverafter’ – a personal project which had no negative impact on the band. After devoting almost ten years of my life to the band, I didn’t think that releasing a personal project would be an issue. Ville stated that the release of my solo album just proved to him that I don’t care about the band that much anymore. It goes without saying that nothing could be further from the truth.
“I joined Mors Principium Est in 2011 and have since written four albums for the band. It is no secret that there has been a long history of lineup changes and by 2017 the band had wilted down to just two official members, Ville and myself. I now become the 13th official member to leave Mors Principium Est.
“I would like to make it clear that AFM Records or any other affiliations with the band were unaware of the situation unfolding at the time and played no part.
“Although incredibly difficult, I would like to end this statement on a positive note. Thank you to all the fans for your loyal support over the years. I am extremely lucky to have had the opportunity to share my music and to connect with so many awesome people around the world. I would also like to thank everyone who I have shared the stage with or became friends with on the road. I have some incredible memories to look back on and though I am completely heartbroken that this chapter has come to an abrupt and disappointing end, I look forward to moving on to the next and putting the negativity behind me.
Andy” And here’s Ville’s rebuttal, issued this morning:
Ville’s updated statement:
“!!! STATEMENT UPDATE !!!
“Okay, did not want to do this, but after reading Andy’s statement, I have to clear some things up.
“Andy himself said, that “Seven” will be his last album with MPE.
“When I told him about the possible live shows and tours, Andy said that he is not getting paid enough, so he can not do the shows.
“Which I understand.
“And after some, not so nice, things I heard from him, there really was no reason to keep him in the band.
“He was not going to do anything with the band anymore.
“Based on the stuff I just mentioned, that is how I saw the situation.
“And about AFM being told.
“Yes, after Andy said that “Seven” is his last album with MPE, there were some discussions with AFM about the future and I had to tell them, that at some point Andy will be leaving the band and “Seven” is his last album with MPE.
“And about Andy joining my band.
“Yes, that is true.
“When Andy joined MPE, it was my band.
“I also chose Andy.
“Andy’s private endorsements have nothing to do with MPE.
“About recording deal.
“I did not create the contracts.
“Andy has been paid his royalties and all royalty stuff have been signed and agreed by Andy.
“Andy can say what ever he wants, but I still feel Andy’s main focus/interest was always in Andy Gillion.
“Most likely changes nothing.
“Haters gonna hate what ever I write and most likely Andy will deny everything I said.
“(I do not mean the fans. I mean the people who will hate, no matter what I say.)
“It is so easy being the “victim” and only blame others.
“Not everything is as “black and white” as Andy explains.
“But like I said in the first statement, I want to thank Andy for the great albums we did together and I wish him the best of luck in the future.
“Andy was one of my best friends and I never wanted this to end like this.
“But then some things happened, Andy said some things and I said some things and the result is what it is.
“I also want to thank the fans of MORS PRINCIPIUM EST and soon there will be some good news.
“All the best
“Ville / MPE”
Given Andy’s explanation and Viljanen’s history, it’s tough not to take sides here, but there’s no question that there is almost certainly more to the story on both sides than is being revealed publicly. Either way, Gillion is a supremely talented songwriter and guitarist and we look forward to whatever he’s planning next.