A reason to go to Finland?

-- Dead End Finland --

David Hardy

Album genres:
Electro melodic metal
Melodic Metal
Album artists:
Mikko Virtanen Vocals
Santtu Rosén Guitars & Bass
Miska Rajasuo Drums
Jarno Hänninen Keys

Review written by David Hardy.

My first impression...

...was to say to myself " Oh my! It's Rammstein without the fat!" You know the difference in impression you have between eating a good big stuffed sauerkraut covered sausage at an Oberbayern party and eating the same sausage at an IKEA restaurant, thinner, smaller, less raw and less alcoholic. And that's kind of the difference between Rammstein & Dead End Finland in terms of how they present their music.

So, let's not be mistaken, we must not take this statement only negatively so let's put some distance between this first impression and what Dead End Finland is actually bringing to the table. First off because not everyone sounds like Till Lindemann and, in my opinion, Rammstein without Till would be like a caramel custard without caramel: good, but clearly tasteless.

This is not the case here. Let's just say that Dead End Finlands starts from a industrial metal base that at first sounds like a slimmed-down Rammstein but which does allow them to easily stand out by putting forward other qualities. For one, we can clearly feel the Nordic side of the band as well as the 15 years of experience that Dead End Finland has already accumulated along with the fact that this is already their fifth studio album since debuting with "Stain Of Disgrace" in 2011! But let's find out more together below.

Inspection in the rules

"Northern winds": puts us directly in the mood, a little energetic but dark electro beats around the song's edges, powerful clean and harsh vocals that do the job some welcome tempo and melodic changes at the right times. It's an opening song that doesn't bore me, on the contrary, it makes more interested to check out the rest of the album and thus this makes it the right tune to kickoff this full-length. The synth sounds are... what they are (quite 80/90 for some but it matches quite well) What strikes me the most is that I've got the impression that I think I've heard d the voice of Mikko elsewhere while ... not.

The second track "Wounded & bleeding" throws us a big and direct orchestral blast to then leave on more martial feelings. The percussions are really well chosen and provide the necessary glue to this track, well done until the end.
"Heavy Rain" gives me more trouble to properly evaluate since it's a track that oscillates between 90s pop, symphonic metal and a growl quite typical of more traditional metal. You add some annoying choirs that don't fit well with the big guitars and you understand my embarrassment.

"Beyond the distance" gives us a little taste of Metallica, but it does have a bit too many layers, but this is the kind of song that can be played on the radio. Not too fat, not too violent, not too long, not too quiet and a song that can be listened to again without difficulty, no, frankly, it passes the radio-friendly test easily! The follow-up, "In the dark" starts well, ... but is too radio-friendly for me. "Kaamos", is the small instrumental break of the album and is well-timed and very fashionable and quite inspiring despite it's short two-minute runtime.

My favorite track on this release is "Up so high, down so low" and could be considered the "ballad" of the album. Inspiring, almost Eurovision viable given the theme and the quality of the vocals and orchestration. A overall huge success for the genre!
"Dellusion of grandeur", starts with the good old sound of obsolete synth. Ok for me, but what else does it propose? Well a bpm that juggles between 53 to 106 and then 212 (I'm no specialist, in this, but the differences are quite vast), a tone very in the air of time... some passages of violins & chorus, a little heavy on the mixings but well... it passes. We will note that it is in spite of everything super radiophonic too.

"Born to be reborn" we immediately feel the synth sounds of the 90s and then the voice of Mikko starts almost in Simple Minds mode. In this particular track the guitars which are a little too much in front for me at certain moments throughout the track, but nothing is unforgivable here. Then, I don't know if it's the mixing or the composition, but, I find that this track slips a little too much towards the pop of the years 1990-2000 due to the spoken voice, the synth sounds, the beats, the tone of the sung voice, the sound of the drums at certain moments it makes a lot... but it's not unpleasant, let's just say it all feels very disorienting, but in a rather positive way!

"Wrath of god" comes back to a more "normal" tempo in the 126 bpm category allowing to have a more human feeling (close to the heart rate) even if the feeling is heavier and deeper, we feel the strength and the testosterone that's lacking (to my taste) a little in the other tracks. This one's a song to listen to thoroughly just to give your ears the pleasure of listening! 

What to think

First of all, as said above, we feel that Dead End Finland have the experience, that the production crew around it has competence and that they've put in the means to achieve it. It's a fact and it allows to add, if it was still needed, a brick to reach this little touch that makes you say "Oh yes, ... it's professional!"

So, clearly, yes, we are in the presence of a rather clean band, despite a bit of growl in the background (which tries to add that little bit of testosterone that could be missing) we remain in the mainstream radio as much as we could play a Metallica tune (it's good that Metallica and metal as whole still gets the occassional airplay to give it a bit of mainstream relevancy).

What I like about Dead End Finland is actually similar to what I don't like about them. It's a contradiction, to be sure, so allow me to explain. 

1: The band's sound is airy and quite light and clean, compared to what I was expecting, no heavy stuff and taking in the guts, BUT, on the contrary, it gives more joy, spirit of motivation and their style doesn't fall into the heavy and repetitive. Personally, I still miss a little bit of testosterone, a little bit of tickness. Maybe a more present and inspired bass guitar playing could've fixed that.

2: It's complex and sometimes too much! We feel the musicians behind Dead End Finland are probably a little too perfectionist and who complexify their material a little too much sometimes, which must give a lot of trouble to the sound engineer, especially on a track like "Delusion of grandeur" where the synth fights to exist because it wants to say things all the time but the title's multiple layers do not leave him any room so many interesting things to place. It shows a real desire and participation of everyone involved to head in the same direction, but it does cause a little confusion sometimes as to what direction they're actually heading for.

3: The accents between Metallica and Rammstein are quite varied, which makes it hard to specify and compare the similarities. It's a pity because they bear comparison but in their own style which is neither one nor the other!

4: A (too) well done production! I know, I often bitch about the production (mainly the lack thereof) but this time, I complain (again) about production values but the other way around! Although the production on "Victory" is great, it also feels a bit overproduced. For me, the ideal production is professional but which still has some "controlled imperfection". You know that little bit of madness that often messes up everything but if handled correctly makes the difference! Here, it's just about top but I do miss that little roughness! Nothing to say, especially because I feel the band always wants to add more to make it even better. In fact, I applaud their overall effort because with so many musicians tapping in a certain range of frequencies, it must have been vert hard to please everyone and... if I were to be honest, I should just say bravo and shut the fuck up! ... But I'm not here to be nice! :) 

In the end, Dead End Finland's "Victory" is an album that deserves to be played on the radio! But REALLY! And that's not even a bad thing. The album's production is top notch, the style is balanced and feels like Metallica mixed with Rammstein. And having some extra metal on the radio would change the status quo quite a bit. 

For the radio programmers, I advise you: "Heavy Rain" ; "Beyond the distance" and "Dellusion of grandeur".
For the others: "Dellusion of grandeur" ; "Wrath of god" and "Northern winds".

Score: 8,2/10

PS: A little personal message to the band members, and as I can see they like moving flycases in the steppe, I have a huge flycase lying around in my dining room to put at the end of the garden, if they get bored it's with pleasure that I let them this enjoyment :D