Saturday, 26 October 2013

Steel Mammoth - Radiation Funeral (2011) | 83%

NWOFHM #5: Nuclear Metal Transitioning

Steel Mammoth is yet another project with Jussi Lehtisalo in its rank, perhaps the most occupied musician in Finland and he really created a scene of his own outside of the Finland conventions. Compared to most of his other metal projects, this one is a full band comprised of two Seremonia members and the drummer of Arkhamin Kirjasto. Jussi handles the guitars, basses and vocals alongside Ville Pirinen (Seremonia, Garfield Steel...).

Steel Mammoth is one of Jussi's most prolific projects outside of Circle. And speaking of this seminal psychedelic rock band, I have no idea what happened to it in 2013. It seems the band has split into two separate entities. One with the usual members formed Falcon (ex-Circle), a AOR/hard rock band while Circle is now composed of metal musicians (Speedtrap, Stench of Decay). It's simply weird like everything he and his label Ektro records do, Jussi is definitely a tough guy to follow but I do my best to keep my head out of the darkness.

This project has many albums but the first four releases weren't metal, they explored psychedelic and stoner rock but they still had this gritty and aggressive approach. The typical NWOFHM touch was also quite present, it was quirky, weird and had the unique riffs and basslines of Jussi. They had this 70s vintage, garage rock vibe that was quite cool, it was somewhat like Graveyard but with an original twist.

But two years after the excellent “Nuclear Ritual”, the band released this album “Radiation Funeral” and it marked a change of sound. Akin to the sky after a nuclear war aftermath, the sound became darker and they joined the ranks of Krypt Axeripper, Arkhamin Kirjasto or Motorspandex on the Metal Archives. Their riffs became heavy as fuck and the vocals as metal as a rusty cheese grater. The influence of the unholy trio composed of Venom, Bathory and Motorhead was integrated into their psychedelic basis and it's freaking refreshing. This combined with an healthy dose of punk and some doom metal made this record a pretty fun one.

It can compared to the extreme metal attack of Arkhamin Kirjasto but more gritty and less experimental and weirdly catchy. It's heavy/thrash/punk played in the Jussi Lehtisalo fashion so it still sounds pretty out there! Their songwriting formula is fairly simple, nine songs for thirty minutes of music, it's certainly a blistering, nasty attack. The opener “2000” sets high standards for the rest of the album but there's certainly no fillers here. The bass is loud, the drumming is energetic and it's fucking fun. It's not only a change of sound, it's rather an evolution since they retained the elements that made them cool and original and added an old school metal vibe. It's rare to see non metal bands evolving towards the metalness, it's often the opposite, bands become wimpier since they're grown ups now. Well, fuck growing up, I'll eat pop tarts with my imperial stout if I want to.

Steel Mammoth's later days are a good counterpart to the experimental heavy metal approach of Jussi's other metal projects. I'm radiated but I don't care.

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