Finland is home to some of the greatest metal bands around (from Amorphis and Insomnium to Sonata Arctica and Wintersun); as such, it’s no surprise that self-described hippie metal quintet Egokills hail from there, too. In fact, 2014’s Creation and 2018’s Mellowhead were among the most interesting and eclectic genre LPs of their respective years. So far, follow-up Egokills is as well. Doubling down on what made its predecessors work, it delivers another engrossing batch of fun and frantic tracks as only Egokills could.
Purposefully fusing styles such as thrash, post-rock, grunge, and progressive metal, Egokills exudes its creators’ love for pushing boundaries and never settling for artistic complacency or stagnancy. As drummer Vilho Rajala explains: “Back when we grew up, we used to expect bands to transgress and they did, too. These days, people seem to expect just more of the same and everybody has to fit into a box. Egokills will never fit into a box.” Undoubtedly, the record’s four-year gestation period proved beneficial, as Egokills is quite the wild ride.
Part of the reason is that the group clearly—though not excessively—borrow from some of the wildest metal acts of the last few decades. Specifically, opener “The Perfect Song” is what might happen if you blended the punky eccentricities of Mr. Bungle and Voivod; the wistful atmospheres of blackgaze darlings Alcest and Deafheaven; and the welcoming hooks of countless mainstream rock heavyweights. It’s irresistibly peculiar yet expertly focused.
Although the quintet don’t stray remarkably far from that template, nearly very subsequent track finds them charting new territory.
For instance, “Life’s a Party” is essentially a rambunctious metal hoedown led by feisty banjo licks, and it’s deceptively complex in terms of how often and fluidly it reimagines certain riffs and melodies across multiple timbres. In contrast, and to varying degrees, “Feeble,” “Dark,” “Grey Rainbows,” and “The Last Trip” combine the dejected reflections of grunge with the quirky bite of alternative metal.
What’s more, “Sweat” juxtaposes hardcore intensity with the angelically somber guitarwork of certain System of a Down staples. Then, poignant ballad “Utopia” borders on psychedelic rock and hard rock as it effortlessly ranks as one of Egokills’ most heartfelt and catchy compositions. Conversely, hypnotic progressive metal onslaught “Dormant” reveals how dynamic, confrontational, and tricky the band can be instrumentally and songwriting-wise. The latter half is particularly impressive, as its classical acoustic guitar strums, meditative percussion, and pensive basslines combine into a truly beautiful and affective passage.
Egokills is likely Egokills’ finest outing to date, which is saying something. Sure, it overtly evokes other artists at times, but those moments always feel more like homages than they do blatant rip-offs to compensate for unoriginality. On the contrary, Egokills is a superb example of how to uphold a consistent identity while also ensuring that each piece of the puzzle feels sufficiently individualized and worthwhile. Best of all, it demonstrates how consistent Egokills remain, which only goes to heighten expectations and anticipation for whatever they do next (even if it takes another four years to get there).