Kalmah – Seventh Swamphony

Kalmah-Seventh-SwamphonyKalmah

Seventh Swamphony

01. Seventh Swamphony
02. Deadfall
03. Pikemaster
04. Hollo
05. Windlake Tale
06. Wolves on the Throne
07. Black Marten´s Trace
08. The Trapper

[07/17/13]
[Spinefarm Records]

Kalmah‘s fascination with Finland’s endless swamp lands continues on their seventh album, the whimsically titled, Seventh Swamphony. Hailing from the northern city of Oulu, the Kokko brothers and Co. have an abundance of natural water bodies around them from which they can draw influence. This was clear as early as their 2000 debut album Swamplord and thirteen years later, after a couple of releases with gradually dwindling swamp references, the influence of the Finnish landscape takes over once again. The production on Seventh Swamphony wisely strays away from the modern, over-polished and over-used melodic death metal sound. This is a good thing because it gives the guitars a raw sound that is complemented quite decently by the keyboards.

Listen by listen, Seventh Swamphony reveals more and more of its layers. The overall high tempo at which these tracks are executed can make some of the clever licks and chops sound like a blur; especially when the whole thing clocks in at just forty-one minutes. The opening title-track explodes right away without any pleasantries. The guitars and keyboards exchange a few sweet licks near the end there to set a high standard for the album’s level of musicianship. “Deadfall” has some epic keyboards by new recruit Veli-Matti Kananen while Pekka Kokko shells out some hoarse screams in the beginning in a successful bid to spice up his vocal delivery. This gets augmented by the commanding vocals on “Wolves on the Throne” and the slightly cleaned-up vocals on “Hollo“.

On the technical front, the Kokko brothers manage to keep the album engaging and catchy without delving too much into cheesy power metal-esque segments. Rhythmically, Janne Kusmin’s drumming ferocity pairs up nicely with Timo Lehtinen’s powerful driving bass. Drums-wise, Janne’s performance is quite commendable. He adapts very well with the tracks and finds the space to add more than just double bass beats and frenetic blasts. On “Pikemaster” he echoes the old-school style beats and gallops while on the rather slower “Hollo“, he uses the extra space to his advantage by adding some more intricate cymbal work.

Seventh Swamphony may not hit as high and loud as The Black Waltz did seven years ago. In the context of an album that explodes in one’s face with catchy melodies, technical chops and all-around assault, The Black Waltz still holds the champion’s status among Kalmah’s seven records. Seventh Swamphony however is a very worthy contender that could come first for those Kalmah fans who just can’t look up to The Black Waltz as the band’s finest hour. Despite numerous similarities to many contemporary Scandinavian bands as far as musicianship and production, Kalmah have maintained a largely distinct sound throughout their career and Seventh Swamphony is a continuation of this. Well done!

Kalmah’s Seventh Swamphony gets…

4/5

– AN