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Dead End Scene – Dance On Broken Glass EP

Presented before us is the exciting new EP from Finnish quintet Dead End SceneDance On Broken Glass marks the band’s second EP in 9 months, and showcases a vast amount of energy, groove, melody and awesome riffs! We’ve seen bands before who are capable of producing new material in a short space of time, but with their debut EP still fresh in the memory, is this just a collection of songs that didn’t quite make it?

Dead End Scene pride themselves on their use of “bitchin” guitar riffs, while I probably wouldn’t use that word to describe them, there’s no denying that that there are some excellent riffs on the EP. Each song has vast array to choose from, but the opening track Only One Scene, probably has the pick of the bunch. There are thrash riffs, groove infused riffs, and technically intricate riffs. The first great riff to enter sees the band drop to half time following the measured and careful built-up introduction. This is then replaced by the verse riff which turns up the energy; going full throttle with the driving drums underneath. Unfortunately the drums and guitars in this section sound like they’re almost contradicting each other, rather than working together to form a unified verse backing. Thankfully this is not a constant issue, and the middle section sees the kick drum perfectly emphasising the picking in an intricate low register riff. This is again excellent, and further awesome riffs feature on the following tracks.

While the guitar riffs are really awe-inspiring, not all instrumental performances are perfect; in particular some of the guitar solos and drums fills are disappointing. Seasons Of The Wicked provides the perfect platform for a great solo, erupting from the sparse a capella section. It begins exceptionally, with a great opening bend from Olli Salmi on lead guitar, and some delicious runs. It only improves when the backing settles to allow more melodic content in the solo. However, the final, virtuosic, sweep-picking section is unnecessary; it doesn’t add anything to the song, or the solo, and simply seems like the guitarist trying to show off. It wouldn’t be too detrimental to the track, except it really grabs your attention when the band stops behind it, and the lick just sounds rushed and sloppy. It’s a common aspect of the solos on the EP, although, this could be partly attributable to the mix and master of the EP; which leaves much to be desired. Comparative to the debut EP, Sickness, the mix on this is significantly improved. However, the tracks still sound like they’re from different bands, there is no consistency to the sound; the drums are too loud on Only One Scene, then almost too quiet on Seasons Of The Wicked. Also, the whole album suffers from being quite muddy overall and lacking clarity, particularly for kick drum, and lead guitar parts. Finally, the vocals are often difficult to hear amongst the other parts, which takes something away from the level of impact they should generate.

Looking past mixing discretions, there are some excellent vocal parts; memorable melodies, emphatic backing sections, and tremendous emotion displayed throughout. Season Of The Wicked is the most balladic track on the EP, and with it comes strong vocal melodies; some of which leaves singer, Kylmänen‘s lack of finesse exposed; but others are delivered with tremendous gravitas, power and conviction. The addition of backing vocals in Watch Me Fall only improves the power of delivery. The chorus line My Demons are laughing in my head as they watch me fall” is performed with tremendous power and emotion, but the emphatic, aggressive response from the backing vocals of “Watch Me Fall” further adds to the impact.

Overall, if I were to just look at the music played on the album, the riffs, grooves, and melodies, it would be regarded as a fantastic EP; full of vocal hooks, awesome guitar riffs, and ridiculously heavy groove sections. With only minor issues regarding some areas of the vocals, and the guitar work in places. However, the mix of the EP really detracts from the music performed, and fails to display it in the best possible light; it’s inconsistent and muddy leading to a lack of clarity in parts. Therefore, I must conclude that the band is showing tremendous promise, following a productive 2015 which saw 2 EPs with great material on released; but there’s some work to be done to produce a great EP. Definitely one to watch, and I imagine they’re be fantastic live!

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