Lost Society: Teen thrashers all grown up

Metal foursome Lost Society started their career as mere teenagers, by playing traditional thrash metal. As the band’s stylistic range broadened – along with its fan base – some of their day-one fans were not happy. On their fourth album “No Absolution”, Lost Society takes a step even further in a more modern and accessible direction. The band’s frontman, singer and guitarist Samy Elbanna (third from left on the above photo) finds this progression exclusively a good thing. 

Samy Elbanna is annoyed. Maybe that’s a strong way to put it – the 24-year-old metalhead from Jyväskylä (a 140 000 inhabitant city and municipality in central Finland) knows all the rules in today’s music business and doesn’t want to pick a fight. So let’s just say that Elbanna is slightly annoyed.

”There are many people who think that this isn’t the way it’s supposed to go. Finland shouldn’t have metal band that has won the Eurovision Song Contest. That metal shouldn’t be an everyday discussion topic and there shouldn’t be churches with a heavy metal service. Personally I think, why the fuck not?”, Elbanna says.

Many people think that Finland shouldn’t have metal band that has won the Eurovision Song Contest.

Elbanna has never lived in a time when heavy metal has not been mainstream music in Finland. Therefore he can’t grasp, what could be so bad with things being that way. Why shouldn’t the counter culture become mainstream culture? What’s wrong with a metal band playing opera festivals or Christmas carols for larger audiences, in order to bring home the bacon?

“You must remember that in some countries you can get a prison sentence for playing heavy metal, or challenging the national status quo with your lyrics. The fact that in Finland metal is considered OK, makes it possible for cities to provide band with practice spaces and for schools to teach kids the electric guitar et cetera. I can only see upsides in this situation. This may be too much for some hardcore Burzum fans, I’m sorry, but this is just how it is.”

Beyond thrash

Samy Elbanna was 16 years old when he scribbled 'heavy/thrash metal' on the cover of Lost Society’s first demo tape. The year was 2011. Traditional 1980s influenced thrash metal was making a comeback in Finland, and also these four teenagers from Jyväskylä wanted to play fast and aggressive headbanging music. This mission gave birth to the albums ”Fast Loud Death” (2013) and ”Terror Hungry” (2014). Suddenly Lost Society was in demand everywhere.

“The first two albums were basically us demonstrating that we’re here, putting ourselves on the map and doing everything faster than anyone else”, Elbanna recalls.

Though our initial idea was to make music as fast and crusty as possible, we never intended to pigeonhole ourselves as just thrash. 

This recipe took Lost Society quite far. Already in 2012 they signed a deal with German metal giant Nuclear Blast Records. A year later they were on tour supporting one of the biggest Finnish metal bands, Children of Bodom. Success followed Lost Society to the sales charts too: in February 2016 their third album “Braindead” debuted at number three on the Finnish album chart.

'Mainstream! Crap!', true underground metalheads grunted after hearing the more versatile “Braindead”. And they were sort of right, because Lost Society never intended to cater to a niche audience or keep away from musical progress. On hindsight, there was a reason why Elbanna wrote the words thrash AND heavy on the cover of their first demo tape – instead of just thrash.

“Though our initial idea was to make music as fast and crusty as possible, we never intended to pigeonhole ourselves as just thrash. When you listen to our first two demo tapes, you can spot bits of Iron Maiden or Avenged Sevenfold here and there. Personally, I’ll listen to any kind of music with a good conscience, as long as it sounds great.”

Feeling good in your own skin

Ten years down the line, Samy Elbanna says that Lost Society is exactly where they always wanted to be. Playing more than 300 shows, spending thousands of hours on the road and getting loads of feedback from the crowd, the band has now a sense of ease, which you can hear on the new record.

“The songs on 'No Absolution' are more personal than before. We have seen and experienced a lot and maybe our minds have also evolved enough to make us recognize what’s going on around us. I think it’s a part of your job as a musician to give the audience a glimpse of where you are going at each moment. Now we are telling you, what’s happened to us during the past few years.”

It’s a part of your job as a musician to give the audience a glimpse of where you are going at each moment.

On their previous album ”Braindead”, Lost Society wanted to show new sides of themselves. They did that by taking influences from childhood heroes such as Iron Maiden, Deep Purple and Kiss – after all they had already proved that they know how to play thrash metal.

On ”No Absolution” the band takes another dive into unknown waters. Produced by former Santa Cruz guitarist Joonas Parkkonen, the album sounds more modern than anything released by Lost Society thus far. The songs are brave, sometimes even reckless: among the usual thrash riffing you can hear calm parts that bring to mind the maligned nu metal era, or post-hardcore – two genres where even the assumed tough metal guy can reveal his wounds.

Elbanna says, that he found a totally new voice while making the album. That voice is audible both on his actual singing voice, as well as the lyrics.

“The album’s most focal theme is that you don’t have to be too serious in this world. As ugly as the reality sometimes is, we all end up the same way in the end. If, for example, you use religion to justify doing fucked-up stuff, you're no better person than anyone else. There's no absolution in the end.” 

'No Absolution' will be released February 21 on Lost Society Records. Find their tour dates here.