The unholy matrimony of rap and metal is not exactly a new thing in 2022. The first attempts at mixing these seemingly disparate genres occurred already in the 1980s! The joint venture of mixing hard rock and rap on “Walk This Way” by AEROSMITH and RUN D.M.C. was released in 1986! (Note to self: feeling old yet?) For some peculiar reason, however, this intriguing mongrel of styles has never really kicked off in Finland, regardless of the efforts of bands such as KMA some 20 years ago. Maybe the time is ripe now, what with the whole Finnish rap scene having geared up a good notch since 2001. Some 2 years ago, LÄHIÖBOTOX, the rap-metal outfit hailing from the Helsinki ”East Side,” released their debut album, “Rikkinäinen Suomi,” and it raised a bit of fuss in the metal circles too. Even the music establishment took notice: the Emma Awards jury nominated this funky posse in the Newcomer of the Year category. The band’s sophomore effort, “Itä-metal,” just came out on April 22nd, 2022, via Fullsteam Records, so let’s see what these rap-metal ruffians have been cooking up in their eastern basement while the end of days has been playing out on the city streets. The album’s sound was honed to perfection by the Grammy-winning audio goldfinger, Will Putney, whose golden touch has been heard on albums by bands such as BODY COUNT, GOJIRA, and A DAY TO REMEMBER. The writing process of the rap lyrics was supervised by the wordsmith, Jarkko Martikainen, of the eccentric prog bunch, YUP. If that doesn’t get you hyped up, I seriously don’t know what could!
Last month, LÄHIÖBOTOX released “Lähiöni tuote” as the first teaser from the album, featuring Samy Elbanna (LOST SOCIETY) and Marco Aro (THE HAUNTED, FACE DOWN, MACHINE GOD). Straight from the intro, what with the somewhat SLAYER-like vibe oozing from the guitar riff, it becomes crystal clear that this bunch is not set out to become yet another comedy-rap act in the spirit of, say, PÄÄKKÖSET, who infused subtle hard-rock nuances on their half-assed, BEASTIE BOYS impersonation, one-hit-wonder of a track, “Eläinrääkkäystä,” in 1989. These guys say it like they mean it. Setting the tone for the whole album, the first soundbite is brimming with a deep sense of genuine rage; these masters of ceremony sound pretty damn convincing in their delivery. It should come as no surprise, considering Hanad Hassan has a Somalian background and Luyeye Konssi emigrated to Finland from Angola, a republic in Southern Africa, at the delicate age of 9 in 2001. While Finland at large is perhaps not as segregated as the United States, living in the hoods of Eastern Helsinki comes with a price, I guess, if you do not happen to be a prime specimen of the shell-suited, Caucasian plebs tooting their horn for some nutjob, right-wing flavor.
LÄHIÖBOTOX has been dubbed the Finnish version of BODY COUNT and after a few spins, the new outing does indeed come off resonating with a bafflingly similar vibe; it sounds as though a real shitload of anger is discharging after having been pent up for a way too long. The music has a good measure of that original raw power of heavy metal and punk rock that seems to have been polished beyond recognition quite often on modern, mainstream ”metal” offerings. “Itä-metal” resonates with a genuine sense of danger, by turns darting forward with an almost hardcore punk -like vehemence and plunging headlong into street-smart, thrash-metal riff brawls.
Two tracks stand out by stepping slightly outside the raw and abrasive riff-punch-up format: “Kasvoton kansa” throws in a bit of alternative rock flavor here and there, which creates a poignant contrast with the vintage ANTHRAX-like thrash riffs. It is nicely reminiscent of the rap-influenced endeavors of this legendary thrash outfit such as, say, the rap-metal banger, “Bring the Noise,” which featured PUBLIC ENEMY. The other brilliant standout track is “Köyhyyden pelko,” which throws in the staple of modern mumble rap: the autotuned vocals! Here, however, this clichéd gimmick works wonders, juxtaposed against the raw metal sound. To add a further gut-punch, the song also comes with a hardcore punk section, lashing out with the vehemence of the original crusties – “kilju punks,” as we used to call them here back in the day.
By and large, the new LÄHIÖBOTOX offering is quite an intriguing album, as it all at once trashes the most stereotypical preconceptions that you might have about the hybrid of rap and metal. No, it’s not nu-metal version 2.0 and neither is it some bastardized strain of metalcore with trendy mumble-rap breakdowns. This crazy bunch has more in common with the raw power of early thrash metal and hardcore punk. When listening to some idiosyncratic, vintage rap artists like Snoop Dogg, you might feel tempted to roll a fat blunt and knock yourself out into a stupor, whereas by putting “Itä-metal” on you might, instead, feel tempted to wolf down a jug of moonshine and become a human pogo-stick.
Written by Jani Lehtinen
- Mä herätän sun traumat
- Ei pyhiä
- Myrkky (feat. Unto Helo)
- Lähiöni tuote (feat. Marco Aro & Samy Elbanna)
- Kasvoton kansa
- Mieheltä toiselle
- Paha silmä
- Köyhyyden pelko
- Mä tuun ja mä lähen
Luyeye Konssi (Seksikäs-Suklaa) – vocals
Hanad Hassan (Dosdela) – vocals
Harto Haukkaluoma – guitars
Jaakko Luomanen (Lieminen) – guitars
Lauri Ojala (Lighthouse Project) – drums
Samuli Peurala (Lighthouse Project) – bass