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National Napalm Syndicate
Devolution of Species
May 2009
Released: 2009, Violent Journey Records
Rating: 3.0/5
Reviewer: Luxi Lahtinen

6 years ago, since the Finnish thrashers National Napalm Syndicate (or just N.N.S.) made their resurrection and collected their troops together again, 3 years from that the band released their comeback album (titled RESURRECTION OF THE WICKED). It was a very solid piece of a metal album, combining some speed metal, some thrash - and just metal.

It´s 2009 - and the N.N.S. troops have returned to form again, recording their 3rd full-length album, DEVOLUTION OF SPECIES for a domestic Finnish label that is owned by the very 1st vocalist of the band, Vesa Ruokangas. Now the circle has sort of been closed for N.N.S. for that part, I guess.

Listening to the band´s new album D.O.S., there´s not that much left from the original idea that N.N.S. used to be back in the day, i.e. a relentless speed/thrash act that worshipped the sounds of early Metallica, Exodus, Slayer and just a host of other speed/thrash acts from those days. If their 2nd album RESURRECTION OF THE WICKED had dropped off a marginal amount of their speed/thrash thing, on DEVOLUTION OF SPECIES the band has clearly abandoned their roots completely. However, let me tell you right away that fact doesn´t necessarily ruin your enjoyment completely, unless you are the type of purist of metal that only accepts sticking-to-your-guns and regression, never indulging in trying-out-new-weapons-for-mass-destruction and allowing for progression of music itself.

On DEVOLUTION OF SPECIES, N.N.S. is introduced under a new light, as a metal band that can still push their gas pedal hard, but this time more sensitive - added with much more melodies and variation. This time speed and thrash metal comes through their new songs as short flashes only, and the main emphasis has been built around strong melodies and catchy choruses that no album can live without to stand out. And N.N.S. have quite well succeeded in writing some really fitting and nice choruses and strong melody lines for their songs on their latest output - with a couple of exceptions that I´d like to sink my teeth into.

"Dancing Days" has a chorus part that reminds shamelessly of the main chorus part of Entombed´s "Chief Rebel Angel". Either it´s intentional or unintentional, but it still feels like a rip-off, sorry guys. "Legion", on the other hand, has the same angst and heaviness in it like The Black League incorporated into their debut album ICHOR - and then they have a track called "Die My Bride", which sounds like... (eh?), Marilyn Manson or something? Makes me think what the hell they have been thinking of when getting this type of song recorded for this album? It should not be here in the first place at all, duh!

As for more positive things, the rest of the songs have this certain drive to be innovative and all - and I really happen to like Ile´s (Järvenpää) throaty and raspy vocals, and he can really sing. Every time I hear him signing, I cannot help comparing his vocalism to Taneli Jarva (ex-Sentenced, ex-Impaled Nazarene, The Black League). His vocals do have quite a lot in common with Taneli´s ICHOR era T.B.L in particular. His skills as a very good vocalist cannot be questioned.

"Burden of Truth", is actually the closest song to the band´s original theme as a speed/thrash metal band. It´s a very straightforward sounding, a bit rock-ish outburst. The last song on the album (excluding the bonus track), "The One You Warned Me of", is some ear-candy the way it has been structured and composed. It starts off calm and slow-paced, but then it keeps growing toward the end, and bringing in enough rage and speed - starting especially from the 3:07 minute mark. There´s a good amount of variation in this tune, and that´s why it has slowly started to become my favorite song off from the whole album, too. The bonus track is Black Sabbath´s "Mob Rules", which also features T. Käsmä and Kepa Salmirinne from the legendary Finnish heavy/hard rock band Zero Nine, as guests. I really like their cover from this classic Sab song, and with Kepa´s quite rough vocals, it gets a relatively special vibe all in all.

DEVOLUTION OF SPECIES is a good album from these legendary ´ex-speed/thrash metal veterans´, but it needs some time to get fully adjusted into your brain. But it´s worth it.
Track Listing

01. Aching Hunger
02. Fist in the Air
03. Dancing Days
04. Funeral Pyre
05. Legion
06. Die My Bride
07. Bite the Bullet
08. According to You
09. Burden of Truth
10. The One You Warned Me of
11. The Mob Rules*

* (Black Sabbath cover featuring T.Käsmä and Kepa Salmirinne from Zero Nine)


Ile Järvenpää - Vocals
Markku Jokikokko - Guitar
Jukka Kyro - Guitar
Tero Nevala - Bass
Jari Kaiponen - Drums

Next review: » National Napalm Syndicate - PROMO 2004
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