Back in 1991, a good metal band by the name of Ancestor formed. They continued for the next seven years without recording an album until 1998, when they changed their name to Kalmah. With the release of Kalmah’s first album was released in 2000, they already had a good start with their unstoppable force of melodic death metal with a hint of folk. “Swamplord” had everything, from the overly melodic guitars to the demonic vocals, to make an instant classic. Still to this day, “Withering Away” is still considered a staple song in the genre. When they released their third album, “Swampsong”, they really hit their stride and reached a peak that hasn’t been reached until now. Not saying that the other albums were bad, because they weren’t. Kalmah has never put out a bad album in 13 years. They have tried different things and new sounds, but they always stayed true to the fans. With “Seventh Swamphony”, they have raised the bar for themselves again. They have never sounded this focused and this intent on taking over the entire genre. I may be getting ahead of myself here, but “Seventh Swamphony” is nothing short of a masterpiece.
When the album explodes with the title track, it’s evident that Kalmah wanted to go back to the style of “Swamplord” and “Swampsong”. It’s fast, furious and melodic as hell. “Deadfall” and “Pikemaster” get a little more symphonic. The new keyboard player, Veli Matti Kananen, breathes a new life into the band’s sound that makes them sound more grandiose. The track “Hollo” makes a departure from their other work by including clean vocals. When a band in the melodic death metal genre uses clean vocals, it’s hit or miss. In Kalmah’s case, they nail it. The only problem with “Hollo” is that it’s a little slower than it needs to be. Not that it’s a bad song (it’s not), it’s just sandwiched between the rest of the album which is a lot faster and hard-hitting. The next track, “Windlake Tale”, is a blazing inferno of symphonic mastery. “Wolves on the Throne” and “Black Marten’s Trace” keep up the momentum with their head banging riffs and great solos. The last track, “The Trapper”, is possibly the best on the album. It combines everything from the album and squishes it into a song that makes them sound like a more epic Amon Amarth.
“Seventh Swamphony” is every Kalmah album rolled into one. It’s got the speed from “Swamplord”, the symphonic element from “The Black Waltz” and the accessibility of “12 Gauge”. They have created something for the hardcore fans as well as newcomers. To create a perfect balance like that is a true test of a band which they have done impeccably. They’ve never been more symphonic, solid and impressive in years. It’s their best album since “Swampsong” and it should be a part of everyone’s metal collection. “Seventh Swamphony” is a breakthrough.
- Brian DuBois
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