Rating: \m/ \m/ \m/ \m/ (4/5)
The Melodic Metal quartet DEAD END FINLAND are hailing from – surprise! – Helsinki, Finland, a country known as “the land of thousand lakes”, where Metal seems to flow in the rivers and to be in the people’s blood. The band has released their debut `Stain Of Disgrace´ in 2011 independently and a year later via Inverse Records. In 2013, their second record `Season Of Withering´ came out and three years later, in November 2016, it was finally time for their third full-length album `Slaves To The Greed´. On their new, 45-minute-long piece DEF keep on following their musical path and perfecting their personal sound by becoming more epic and bombastic. With `Slaves To The Greed´ the Finns present ten killer tracks and show us how modern Melodeath sounds like! If you’re into the melodic and mighty music of bands such as AMORPHIS, SOILWORK and even NIGHTWISH and if you also enjoy your daily dose of electro tunes, the multi-layered `Slaves To The Greed´ will bring sonic joy to you.
Like previous albums, `Slaves to the Greed´ was recorded at the prestigious D-Studio in Klaukkala, Finland. DEAD END FINLAND convince us with a truly massive and at the same time crystal clear sound and a first-class production. And this is how DEF explain their darkish cover artwork which shows a skull hidden in the shades of a hood and hands holding up something: “We think the cover of `Slaves to the Greed´ has succeeded in being a picture of the times. Now you might think the character is taking a selfie, but ten years ago you would’ve seen him holding a book. Your perspective changes in time. The cover is supposed to give you a sinister tone. Modern, yet ageless and mysterious atmosphere.” Their lyrics deal with themes such as “hate, greed for power, antagonism, war and destruction […] the unstable state of the world.”
There’s a great interplay between harsh and beautiful clean vocals in every single track. The growls are quite masterful as one can understand vocalist Mikko Virtanen perfectly at all times. Mikko is also known for his singing in main project GRENDEL (not to be confused with the popular electro Industrial act from the Netherlands). Moreover, there are always powerful intros that get the songs going.
Track by Track Review
- The opener `Through The Echoes, Future & Past´ kicks off with electronic elements and piano sounds that slowly build up some suspense; when the drums, guitars, and high strings set in, it gets epic for real. The amazing orchestration stays in the background as the song continues presenting harsh vocals in Death Metal style on top it. After a brief brake the first catchy chorus resounds and we get to hear Mikko’s clear and warm vocals.
- On `Inside The Void´ there’s another amazing intro featuring some evil guitar and bass lines and towards the end of the song there’s a calm piano and strings part before the melodic chorus explodes once again.
- A lonely guitar introduces the stellar `Fragments Of The Innocent´ and then, beautiful and cinematic strings and piano notes come along. A kind of spacy sound is achieved by more prominent Electro tunes and a very cool beat. In contrast to this, there’re the guitars and lashing drums. Fittingly, the song also benefits from switching between the atmospheric and the louder parts. High piano notes, drums, and a distant thunderstorm in the background close the title. Great stuff!
- The verse of `Messenger Of Sorrow´ show Black Metal influences and the interplay between crushing guitars and “churchy” sounding synths works wonderfully. There we go with our CRADLE OF FILTH moment on this record. And how about a pinch of NIGHTWISH towards the end? All thumbs up for the circusy C part with all the creepy high-pitched laughter and a kid’s choir singing some kind of nursery rhyme!
- Again some clear vocals in the verse of `Nightfall´, which is about the tragic events on November 2015 in the Bataclan theatre in Paris. It’a a serious subject matter and so we hear some spoken words in the background that sound like the news (“The conflict continues…”). During the chorus the Norwegian Dark Rock/ Industrial Metal band GOTHMINISTER comes to mind.
- `Devil’s Triangle´ is an instrumental interlude which begins with the sound of ocean waves, a cello, and some ship’s horn and turns into a piano and strings tune that manages easily to create atmosphere and build up the tension. It leads perfectly into the “submarine intro” of the following track.
- And with a wild “Yeah!” roar and an explosion of guitars we have a blast with another great Death Metal verse and the melodic, KAMELOT-like chorus of `Screaming Back To Hell´.
- The more sinister sounding neck-breaker `5000 Voices´ is amazing because of its great riff and bass line and the dark harsh vocals. It’s super fast-paced with a proggy part that’s simply bombastic with some more spoken words in the background. It’s clear by now that this record is getting better with every single song!
- The heavy and doomy mid-tempo tune `The Devil Inside Me´ is also stunning: Here we have more evil guitars and growls during the verse and probably my favorite chorus à la AMORPHIS so far, that features the clean and harsh singing style as a great whole. What is more, Mr. Jukka Pihlajaniemi (PAARA, CHURCH OF THE DEAD) speaks rather quickly some lines in Finnish towards the end. His baritone adds a doomy and mysterious aspect, which is always good.
- DEF close of the album with the dark title track `Slaves To The Greed´. One simply has to enjoy the ballad-like intro and love Mikko’s darker Grunge-y singling style next to the whispers in the background. Growing drums lead to the dramatic and loud chorus. It’s the longest track on the album (5:22 min) and on the whole, a great and kind of melancholic composition with many layers. In the end, all instruments fade aways slowly one after the other while the drums keep playing before also ceasing in a distorted manner. Of course `Slaves To The Greed´ simply has to be the outro song on the record.
DEAD END FINLAND offer diverse and amazing vocals, sharp and powerful drumming, epic orchestrations and bang-your-head heaviness, and beauty entwined with aggression that always leads to incredibly catchy refrains – all in all, `Slaves To The Greed´ is just great fun for all Metal heads who like the melodic as well as the harsher side of things and enjoy this blend being being spiced up with some Electro sounds. With all the hooks every single title on the record turns out to be an ear worm from the very first listen on. So, all in all, DEF’s latest piece is a clear success and worth checking out! If I could make a wish for the follow-up record, I would be delighted by some more experimentation towards the sinister sounds, more of the dark lower-pitched vocals, and even more daring dashes of diverse electronica. Next year, DEF are celebrating their 10th anniversary and thanks to `Slaves To The Greed´ they can see themselves as one of the interesting “modern Metal” acts from “Suomi.” Way to go, horns up, and cheers! – or “Kippis!” as they say in Finland when raising a toast.
01. Through The Echoes, Future & Past
02. Inside The Void
03. Fragments Of The Innocent
04. Messenger Of Sorrow
06. Devil’s Triangle (interlude)
07. Screaming Back To Hell
08. 5000 Voices
09. The Devil Inside Me
10. Slaves To The Greed
Mikko Virtanen – vocals
Santtu Rosén – guitars & bass
Miska Rajasuo – drums
Jarno Hänninen – keys