REVIEW: Dirt – Deadbeat

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For some peculiar reason, the grunge movement never really took off in Finland; sure, all those legendary Seattle outfits also made a killing in this neck of the woods, but the Finnish grunge endeavors never really made it big – and it cannot be pinned down to a lack of effort. Over the years, a good few grunge outfits have come and gone, but so far not a single one of them seems to have hit the jackpot. Some wisecracks say that it’s because the timing has not been right, because Finland has always come some 20 to 30 years behind the big trends. Well, it was some 30 years ago when the new abrasive, intense, and more or less drugged-out sound of Seattle took the world by storm. So, could the timing be more auspicious now? Judging by the acclaim and success that the Helsinki-based grunge-flavored metal quintet, DIRT, have received in a relatively short time, it very well might be. The band is arguably one of the most promising up-and-coming metal acts at the moment; their first single “Low Life” debuted straight into the Top 50 Viral Hits chart and has garnered more than a million streams on Spotify since its release in 2018. The much-anticipated debut full-length, titled “Deadbeat,” hit the brick-and-mortar record stores as well as the online bazaars on June 3rd, 2022. Released via Ranka Kustannus, the band’s brilliant entrée goes to show that their take on grunge is multilayered with all sorts of different flavors, ranging from the tradition-savvy hard rock to straight-up metal riffage, and to psychedelic desert rock even. The band’s vocalist, Aleksi Tiainen, sports a very prolific hard-rock sound reminiscent, by turns, of Mike Patton, M. Shadows of AVENGED SEVENFOLD, and Scott Weiland. It goes a long way, along with the vocal harmonies that take a deep nod towards ALICE IN CHAINS, in making nothing short of a good first impression.

The album kicks off with “Sweet Retribution,” in which the band skin-dives headlong into the sleaze-rock waters of bands such as STONE TEMPLE PILOTS and VELVET REVOLVER, while paying homage to the early-1990s Seattle sound with the pristine grunge-vocal harmonies. The comparison to Scott Weiland‘s equally sleazy and legendary hard-rock brigade, STP, seems rather justified here; that notorious posse hailing from San Diego, California, rose to fame as part of the grunge phenomenon, although their music was maybe a bit too varied to tightly fit the label. The same holds true for DIRT: grunge is just one of the facets in their raw, sonic diamond.

Upon further listening, it becomes increasingly obvious that these greenhorns share an inclination towards the rock ‘n’ roll aesthetics of yesteryear when it comes to crafting killer hard-rock bangers. The vocal harmonies resonate by turns with the air of ALICE IN CHAINS and KING’S X, with the latter’s influence shining through perhaps most prominently on “Circles,” a track that vibes rather nicely with a groove somewhat similar to THE CULT‘s finest moments. The song could serve as an exemplar of picture-perfect cowbell-driven sleaze ‘n’ roll even though the song does not feature that particular instrument of terror very prominently. I seriously didn’t think I’d ever get to write this in a review: the only thing that the song needs is more cowbell!

For a debut, the outing is extraordinarily coherent, yet diverse. DIRT‘s grunge-tinted hard-rocking does not fall into the trap of conjuring up the spitting image carbon copy of the sound of 1992, but tries different nuances on for size, ranging from the subtle FAITH NO MORE vibes of “Real World” to the METALLICA-styled riffage of the title track. One of the standout tracks, “Blood of the Damned,” even side-steps in the realm of Southern Gothic in a somewhat True Blood manner. On the same note, the title of the song, “God Has Cut You Down,” resonates with the aura of being not entirely an accidental reference to the traditional American folk song, “God’s Gonna Cut You Down,” made famous among many others by Johnny Cash and Marilyn Manson. Musically, the song is related to neither but steamrolls forward like a genuine Sherman tank of class A hard rock.

Maybe a bit unexpectedly, the album ends with a ballad of sorts. “True Blue (Only You)” is the latter of the two downtempo tracks on the selection. While the previous one, “Eyes Wide Shut,” resonates with the thick air of both the somewhat KENT-ish Slavic melancholy and the post-grunge balladry of the late 1990s, the album closer is a 7-minute acoustic ballad with nothing short of epic oriental crescendo in the coda, serving as the perfect icing on the cake. I guess the “post-grunge” moniker would do here as well. Originally, the term was coined as a pejorative label to put on bands that tried to emulate the original grunge sound but ended up sounding a little bit less abrasive, less druggy, and less intense. Over the years, bands such as CANDLEBOX, THEORY OF A DEADMAN, and CREED have gone to great lengths to prove the sentiment wrong. With their impressive debut, DIRT joins their ranks in tooting the horn for class A hard-rock with a robust, hearty pinch of grunge, showing the world that the notorious Seattle aesthetics can still bring home the bacon, even in Finland.

Written by Jani Lehtinen

Tracklist

  1. Sweet Retribution
  2. Real World
  3. Circles
  4. God Has Cut You Down
  5. Eyes Wide Shut
  6. Counting Bodies
  7. Blood of the Damned
  8. Deadbeat
  9. True Blue (Only You)

Lineup

Aleksi Tiainen – vocals

Sebastian Frigren – guitars

Kappe Koutonen – guitars

Benny Raivio – bass

Alex Anttila – drums

Label

Ranka Kustannus

Links

https://www.instagram.com/dirtbandofficial/?hl=en

https://linktr.ee/dirtbandofficial

https://www.facebook.com/dirtbandofficial