KALMAH – Seventh Swamphony
There’s something to be said for consistency when it comes to melodic death metal. It’s a sub-genre where people logically expect certain criteria: a harmonic element needs to be present (usually from a guitar or keyboard riff standpoint), the tempos can be fast and furious or at a normal anthem pace, and the main vocals usually push to the extreme while the gang choruses become context for audience shout-a-thons. Finland’s Kalmah live up to all these standards and a bit more, active since 1998 and now releasing their seventh studio salvo with the appropriately titled "Seventh Swamphony".
The quintet features one change as keyboardist Veli-Matti Kananen joined Kalmah last year, taking over for 8 year veteran Marco Sneck- and his fluid syncopated runs and rhythms go hand in hand with lead guitarist Antti Kokko on the triple threat start of the title cut, "Deadfall", and excellent, almost black metal meets mead hall oriented "Pikemaster". The 7:29 "Hollo" features a lot of guitar cultural strains that are part Celtic, part Finnish, but intuitively catchy, setting up the epic with an opening and closing that should move people emotionally as well as mentally and physically. Out of the eight tracks you’ll receive a bevy of stunning harmonies and speed/ groove transitions- the best of which is the spider web licks and tricks within "Windlake Tale" – the buildups for the harmonization into Janne Kusmin’s percussion knowledge with blast beats, thrash beats and solid death groove work keeping my ears pinned for weeks.
I know a lot of people consider Kalmah to be in the similar melodic neo-classical death metal category as Children of Bodom- but I think Kalmah overall has more outside influences and ability to switch up their tempos to keep their sound distinct. In terms of their discography, I believe "Seventh Swamphony" reaches back a little into their extreme days while also keeping the material very tight and song-oriented a la "12 Gauge". Outstanding, bravo Kalmah- keep the Scandinavian melodic death metal scene alive and thriving!