Kalmah – Seventh Swamphony (Spinefarm Records)Tuesday, 25th June 2013
The sole proprietors of Finnish swamp metal, Kalmah has yet to land the properly-timed blow to finally make their mark on this side of the pond. While those early 00’s Century Media days netted the band some significant press, they happened to run head-first into the storm Children of Bodom was brewing, thus knocking them down a tier, when those “in the know” understood the band had more muscle, better melodies, and alas, better songs. Still, making it to seven albums is a triumph, and the suitably-titled Seventh Swamphony keeps matters nicely in line with Kalmah’s highly recommended previous output.
Brutality and extremity appear to be focus of the Kokko brothers this time out, as evidenced by the opening title track which wastes virtually no time in pushing its way into a fevered blast/keyboard dual. Lead guitarist Antti Kokko remains in the driver’s seat of the band’s sound – his looping, oftentimes spacious melodies are the guide for which the marvelous “Deadfall” and “Hollo” play off of. “Hollo” gets extra nods for being the album’s designated detour/slow-down track, honoring the tradition of recent gems like “Ready for Salvation” and “Better Not to Tell.”
Finnish metal aficionados will be pleased to bask in the smoldering glow of “Windlake Tale,” which emerges as the breakout cut here. Again, Antti’s high-wire melodies and the interplay between new keyboardist Veli-Matti Kanenen is first-rate, as the duo opts to go for some powerful layering as opposed to finger-flying trade-offs. The album wraps with “The Trapper,” a song that is a sure-fire live stormer, and is the most climatic cut here.
Kalmah has managed to stay largely vibrant on Seventh Swamphony, a feat that is not a small one given how formidable 2010’s 12 Gauge and especially 2008’s For the Revolution are. While they might not having the rank of Bodom or the fuck-all-for-adventure’s-sake approach of Omnium Gatherum, Kalmah has come to embody Finnish metal’s hardlined approach to holding up its cherished and beloved melodic death metal sound.