Death Metal isn’t usually a genre I listen to, but Northern European Melodic Death is a sub-style I do occasionally enjoy. Sure there are some of the bands playing the style that I like – Amon Amarth, Children of Bodom, Wintersun, Solution .45, Mercenary – but there are plenty that I don’t particularly care for – Arch Enemy, Scar Symmetry, for a couple. I am adding Kalmah to the former list with their album Seventh Swamphony on Spinefarm Records.
I had to do some research on the swamp theme, thinking maybe their name had something to do with it. The word ‘kalma’ in Finnish translates to ‘death’ in English, so it’s not the name. I’m not sure what the band’s fascination with swamps is, but this is their third album with that theme. They definitely dig being the Swamplords.
Except for new keyboardist Veli-Matti Kananen, the rest of the band has been together for a dozen years – and it shows. The musical compositions are tight, professional, heavy and compelling. The Kokko brothers (both on guitar) seem to be the driving force behind Kalmah and they know what they’re doing. The album kicks off with the title track, relentless and aggressive right from the first note – the proper way to start a Melo Death album. They really don’t let up throughout, although there are a couple of slower passages, but nothing I would call mellow by any means.
The best stretch of the album is a trio of songs in the core of the work, exemplifying the sound of the band in a somewhat condensed package. Pikemaster, Hollo, and Windlake Tale are the strongest songs on the album as well, providing a very solid base for the remainder – but again, there is nothing weak on Seventh Swamphony. Pikemaster is one of the absolute highlights, Hollo demonstrates the band’s diversity, and Windlake Tale is simply crushing. These are a terrific group of songs. Closing song, The Trapper, must also be considered a highlight and is a superb track, which is something considering the consistent quality of Seventh Swamphony.
Here is the chaotic, frantic, and awesome video for the title track. Watch out or the Swamplord will get you!
I was surprised that I liked this album so much – I really wasn’t expecting to. The cover didn’t do much for me and the album title was odd. I guess what really matters is the music and Kalmah comes through in spades. Production is well done for the style. I have already mentioned the songwriting and performances, both of which are outstanding. I can absolutely recommend Seventh Swamphony to all Metal fans, particularly those of Melo Death.
Seventh Swamphony: 8/10 – Great
I hear the sound in a METAL way.
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