When it comes to the heavy scene of Finland, your average metalhead is likely to associate it with a plethora of power and melodic death metal bands that established themselves during a period in the late 1990s and early 2000s. The strength of such acts, which included Stratovarius, Children of Bodom and most infamously Nightwish, not only helped put Scandinavia on the map but to this day remain the icy nation’s most popular and recognised exports. However, despite a long-lasting legacy steeped in epic choruses, neo-classical soloing and gliding keyboards, it so happened that in 2010, a humble quartet from the small town of Jyväskylä by the name of Lost Society would bust down the gate with a relentless thrash album aptly titled Fast Loud Death. It was a release that harkened back to the very earliest days of Metallica and Exodus, and was so instantly beloved by thrashers around the world that it solidified the band as one of the most energising new faces of the genre. So much that when the band dared to change their style up on their latest release (2016’s Braindead – Nuclear Blast), many of their fans were left feeling at best, puzzled, and at very worst, betrayed. On the back of this polarising release, Lost Society welcomed a mosh-ready Manchester crowd for a night of thrash, groove and everything in between on their very first UK headline tour.
Serving as Manchester’s exclusive support act were Huddersfield up and comers Riptide, a band that while unfamiliar to me by name were sonically cut from the very same cloth as the headliner. Utilising fast tempos, pounding drums and a punky attitude, the band exuded a passion for playing thrash metal, and despite a low turnout for their early performance encouraged a mosh pit, and got many heads around me banging like it was 1986. For that very reason, it came as no surprise that it was a personal dream of lead yeller and guitarist Adam Smiths’ to perform with Lost Society, as he and his band all stood up to the challenge of replicating the latter’s notorious live energy. Though I have to admit their neo-thrash songs were lacking in overall memorability in what is already a saturated niche of the genre, I have no doubt that if they continue to perform as well as they did tonight they will carve a niche for themselves in the British live scene.
After a short interval, Lost Society graced the stage, and in true thrash fashion wasted no time with a Fast Loud Death classic in ‘Trash Over You’, followed swiftly by ‘Overdosed Brain’, and then an unreleased song curiously titled ‘My Prophecy’. While the first two of these tracks were absolute masterclasses in adrenaline dripped madness, the latter did not sit all that well with me. Perhaps this was due to the fact the track was brand new, but it sounded dangerously like Machine Head at their most melodic and radio-friendly, which was an odd change in atmosphere for what was otherwise a crushing display of thrash and groove metal. While I imagine that when the song is released within the context of a record that I might have a different opinion of it, I feel the set could have easily survived without it.
Now that the one glaring negative is out of the way, I can now tell you that Lost Society are fucking amazing live. Especially drummer Ossi Paananen, whose extremely skillful playing completely blew me away. Shortly after ‘My Prophecy’ finished, vocalist and lead guitarist Samy Elbana got right back to some raspy wailing with ‘N.W.L’, ‘Hollow Eyes’, and ‘Terror Hungry’, followed by what is arguably the closest song the band has in their repertoire to an ‘Angel of Death’ or ‘Strike of the Beast’, namely ‘Kill (Those Who Oppose Me)’, an absolute banger in its own right, which went down an absolute storm.
One exciting variation to the fast pace of the set was a brave and more than worthy cover of Rage Against The Machine’s ‘Guerilla Radio’, which was sure to piss off many an elitist, despite being a track that plays right into the anti-establishment philosophy of thrash. The young Fins then culminated the night with a groovy anthem in fan favourite ‘I Am The Antidote’, followed by an encore of my personal favourite LS track, the revolution calling, Pantera-esque, ‘Riot’.
As a live force, Lost Society will make you forget how good Slayer were back in the day by reaffirming what is so exciting about live thrash right now. There are many great young bands out there just waiting to be discovered, and the fact these gentlemen came from a part of the world not known for its thrash metal speaks volumes about the genre’s future. I simply must commend the band for having no set support on the tour, as opting for a local opener offers small acts the opportunity to thrive off the exposure, and allows our scene to stay alive.
If I ever get a chance to see them again, I will not hesitate. And if they don’t come back to the UK, I will Riot.