This album is following up from 2020’s Inter Vivos; a rather odd, power-metal driven album with a sprinkle of Death Metal, tonnes of melody, a hefty dose of synth and electronica, and even a nice piano-touch, as well as quite a bit of symphony. All in all, Inter Vivos was a very solid record that experimented with many subgenres and elements and ultimately tied them all together, but I don’t understand why it is consistently categorised as simply “Melodic Death Metal”. Dead End FInland is quite clearly not a Death Metal band, they play experimental Power Metal with some Melodic Death Metal influences, but they do a good job slotting into Finland’s beefed-up ranks of top-notch Power Metal. Inter Vivos is the kind of record that makes you go “huh, I didn’t know I could enjoy Power Metal!”, just in case Nightwish and Manowar isn’t your regular cup of tea. With all that in mind, I found myself intrigued to see where Dead End Finland would go with their fifth full-length album, Victory.
The record opens with a melodic, heavy atmosphere where fairly standard riffing meets symphony and even some electronica. You can’t help but nod along to the groovy, almost dance-inducing moments, but Northern Winds gets dragged down by the plain, clean vocals and that is about to become a rather problematic theme.
The majority of the songs on this album follows the same, tired recipe. Many of them are best described as opening with a heavy riff before settling into a mix of generic metal guitars with an uninspired symphonic backdrop. Where Inter Vivos was eccentric, cheeky and not afraid of mixing a bit too many influences together, Victory is predictable and lacks excitement. A lot of the songs are decent and none of the tracks sticks out like a sore thumb, but very few are notable for breaking the monotony that arises when you listen to Victory from beginning to end.
The exception is track 6, Kaamos. A bit of guitar doodling makes me feel like I’m sitting under a tree in the sun, reading a good book, and instead of the song taking off on it’s usually riffy thing only to settle on clean vocals and groovy drums with symphonic boredom backing it, we now get something completely different. Some nice piano play! It’s melancholic and beautiful, then the whole orchestra chimes in. Superb! This is fascinating. And that’s it. Not even 2-minutes, but a cool palate cleanser. Then the tedious formula of heavy riff, a tiny bit of disco-infused nonsense, symphonic backing, plain melody and rhythm fronted by clean, nasal vocals takes over again.
And then it’s done. The majority of this particular effort is sadly lost, thanks to the fact that it feels like the band is following a formula. There’s something to every single track, none of them are badly made or produced and most of them could work very well as singles, but Victory ends up failing as an album. It lacks direction as well as flow, and that becomes extra frustrating when you know that these guys released a really strong effort only three years ago. Victory ends up not working for me, but we all know what these Finnish veterans have in the tank, and if you’re already a fan then this might just be your cup of tea.