Review – “Dead Letters” by The Rasmus

For those who enjoy their hard rock with a dark, yet melodic vibe to it, then the Rasmus will have you enthralled in an almost fairytale-like and emotional venture. Since their emergence from a garage and the release of their first album “Peep,” in 1996, the band have defied a lot of trends to explore their own creativity and “Dead Letters” was a result of this. Of the 2.5 millions album copies sold worldwide by The Rasmus, 1.5 million of these are of Dead Letters (released in March 23, 2004) and for a group of Finnish schoolmates, this is an incredible feat.

At an initial hearing of the album, you get a strong feeling of sorrow and hardship as well as strength and you wouldn’t believe singer Lauri Ylönen to be encompassing this, as an average kind of Finnish male who then defied a lot of trends to pursue his own creative freedom. To me, the first song sets the stage, or the narrative for the whole album and for ‘First Day Of My Life’ it couldn’t get more straightforward with the title. Strong guitar rhythms and a harmonious voice combined with violins, cellos and myriad of other backing instruments make for a polished and professional piece of audio artwork. Meaning that Dead Letters provokes the senses to feel what The Rasmus are feeling and for fans of hard rock, particularly The Rasmus’ style of hard rock, they would feel goosebumps and chills up their spines. Lauri’s methods of songwriting comprise of cleverly mixing tempo and pitch with the climactic sections of his songs to be loud, almost as if they’re bursting forth from his theme of struggles and with this knowledge in mind, most people would understand how they can interpret the theme of strength in this album. To put it into a nutshell, Lauri Ylönen mixes hard and soft styles of rock but redefines the chorus into amplifying the tone, emotion and message of the song to the listeners and fans. In a way this reaches out to people undergoing great hardships and struggles to take a stand and fight back for their livelihoods.

It was smart of The Rasmus to look at the concepts of sorrow, becoming strong and making our own stamps because at the time of the album release, it was a whole new wave of music where a lot of punk rock and hard rock emerged and young people in particular took to these genres.  Despite the singer’s talents to create masterpiece music befitting of the current social and musical environment, there are a few drawbacks to Dead Letters that encumber Lauri’s songwriting masterpieces. The mood later becomes downtrodden in struggles and misery and albums that start on a high and descend down to a less-than powerful atmosphere often put me off. Meaning that even though Mr Ylönen and the band can create beautiful songs, unfortunately the structure of the tracklist is jagged and misplaced and this can display a different mood entirely. As much as the music is enjoyable, The Rasmus have some ways to go to improve and then dominate the rock genre. Luckily this only happens in a couple of tracks near the end of the album and the melodic hard rock vibe that listeners initially receive from the band, is picked back up again to provide a powerful mood-driven climax.

Regardless of that minor setback in negativity, Dead Letters is an extremely potent mix of melodies, choir-like singing and that hard rock edge that’s like a steel-toe-capped boot, swiping non-believers in the face before they even get a chance to start hating… And that’s one boot I don’t want to have an indent of on my face, believe me.

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