After 15 years together and with six full length albums behind them, Finnish quintet Kalmah, the "Masters of Swamp Metal" are back with studio album number seven, the aptly named 'Seventh Swamphony', the follow-up to 2010s '12 Gauge'.
I was pretty excited about the prospect of hearing 'Seventh Swamphony' as I enjoyed their two previous releases, 2008s 'For The Revolution' and the afore mentioned '12 Gauge'. Add to that, the news that the legendary Jens Bogren had been called in to do the mixing and mastering, I had high expectations.
Also with the album being promoted as "eight tracks featuring their trademark frantic, yet melodic death Metal style, tempered here by a new-found 'epic mournfulness', I was full of anticipation and intrigued as to the difference to this album a change in line up, with the arrival of new keyboard player Veli-Matti Kananen, taking over from Marco Sneck would make.
Article continues below...
My initial reaction, after my first listen, was one of slight disappointment, but not every album will make an impact on its first listen and after the fourth listen I had a much better feel for it. The keyboards play a much greater role, which is good; it adds an orchestral and at times epic feel in places.
The album opens well with title track and album single, 'Seventh Swamphony' an epic, frantic number that introduces the previously mentioned orchestrated feel from the keyboards, which I liked and for me, was the best song of the album. Next and also good, 'Deadfall' continues in this vein with some great guitar work midway. 'Pikemaster' has a folky feel to the chorus that sits well with the frantic tempo of the main body of the composition.
The only track that didn't gel with me was the longest 'Hollo'. I liked the slow, haunting opening with its mournful pace but I found the cleaner vocals a bit odd and it also felt a bit too long, however the second half was better that the first.
The tempo comes back up for 'Windlake Tale' which has some great guitar work and at one point it even feels like the guitars are having a face off against the keyboards, a catchy, memorable and epic song.
The other standout track was 'Wolves On The Throne', slower, dark and brooding but at the same time interesting, with good directional changes, the keyboards are their best here and look out for the short but sweet bass segments.
'Black Marten's Trace' begins on a gentle tinkling keyboard opener, but this is a builder that soon gallops away and keeps galloping right to its end.
Finally, 'The Trapper' with its reflective intro, is much more sedate and the tempo is that of a plodding builder that overall has a slower, thought provoking quality and an emotive feel to the vocal and guitar mix.
Overall this is a good album, a lot of time, effort and passion has gone into its making and if like me, you don't gel with it immediately give it another three or four plays to get the feel as it will grow on you.
'Seventh Swamphony' was recorded at Tico-Tico Studios in Kemi, Finland.