Up until the emergence of Lost Society last year, newer Finnish thrash was almost entirely off my radar. While I had no doubts that the country could pump out great thrash metal, it seemed harder to come by than music from Germany or the UK. Evidently I wasn’t looking in the right places until now because Dead Samaritan has been around for a while. Forming over a decade ago, this Finnish group recently released their second full-length album entitled “The Devil Tunes”. It is a fantastic mix of thrash, death, and black metal. At times, there are even hints of melodeath. Both the thrash and melodeath elements come through primarily in the songwriting and the riffs. There are plenty of furious, headbanging-inducing riffs. Additionally, however, Dead Samaritan knows when to use melody. Opening track “In For The Kill” has a fantastic palm muted riff just over half way through that shows the band’s melodic sensibilities. It isn’t just this track that displays this tendency towards melody though. Quite a few songs have great leads or harmonized sections, such as the intro to “The Madman’s Portrait”. Another example is the guitar solo section in "Darkness Brings The Beast", which sounds like pure classic 80's metal. Additionally, the band is able to keep the music interesting when there isn’t a thrashy riff, which is something a lot of thrash bands struggle with. One instance of this is the chorus of “Out With Your Feet First”, which hits some power chords that ring out, leaving room for the vocals. This section is catchy, and is reminiscent of something Carcass would do on “Heartwork”.
The death and black metal elements come through in the vocal performance of singer Valendis Suomalainen. Her approach is incredibly harsh, leaning slightly more towards black metal than death. Surprisingly, her words are quite understandable. While you won’t pick out everything she says, it is definitely possible to catch most of it with some attentive listening. Her voice is a major differentiating aspect of this record because it takes it in more of a Skeletonwitch vein than a standard thrash band.
It is difficult to be critical towards “The Devil Tunes”. Although the album doesn’t blow me away from a songwriting perspective, it is still a very solid effort. Every track is deserving of its place ands its length. The production works well (ie: the bass is easy to hear, and nothing sounds bad). There’s enough variety throughout the record to keep things interesting (largely due to the injection of melody). Ultimately, this album is a very satisfying experience and will appeal to anyone who digs thrash metal and harsher vocals.
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"In For The Kill"
"The Madman's Portrait"
"The Devil's Tune"
4.0/5 or 80%.
Written by Scott