KALMAH - Seventh Swamphony [Review]

Release Date: June 17, 2013
Genre: Melodic Death Metal
Rating: 8.5/10
Reviewer: Kareem C

The Swamplords are back with their 7th album, "Seventh Swamphony".  Kalmah need no introduction, being one of the most influential melodic death metal bands, making their breakthrough during Finland's glory days alongside the likes of Norther, Children of Bodom, Eternal Tears of Sorrow, and Mors Principium Est.  That being said, I always felt that Kalmah were unfortunately overshadowed by some other bands. 

The band returns with the same lineup as that of 2010's "12 Gauge", except for keyboardist, Marco Sneck, who is replaced with Veli Matti Kananen.  Seventh Swamphony proves that Kalmah are still going strong, as they release albums with consistently memorable melodies and crushing riffs.

The album opens up with the self-titled track, which is nothing short of fantastic.  There is no long introduction like 12 Gauge's "Rust Never Sleeps", as the track starts with fast guitar-picked riffs and blast beats.  The interlude slows down to a beautiful melody that eventually builds up to another memorable solo by Antti Kokko.  In fact, this can be said about most of the songs on Seventh Swamphony...not that it's a bad thing of course.  Kalmah have a unique formula in their "brand" of melodic death metal, and it never fails.  It would be best to look at some of the unique features of this album:

One thing that stands out in this album is the keyboards; Veli takes a somewhat different approach with his keyboard parts compared to his two predecessors.  In Seventh Swamphony, the keyboards play a different role, where they fill up the mix and add to the atmosphere of the music, rather than act as a compliment to the guitar solos and lead melodies.  While Veli does show off his great musicianship, it's not as high up in the mix as in previous albums, but perhaps that's just a production thing.  You can hear that in songs like "Windlake Tale", "Black Marten's Trace", and "Pikemaster", where you hear square and sawtooth leads, in addition to harpsichord tones and other traditionally used keyboard tones in melodic death metal...so diehard Kalmah fans won't be disappointed. All in all, Veli is a great addition to Kalmah, and did a fantastic job on the album.

A song with unique features, "Hollo" is worth mentioning, with melodies that have folk elements in them.  The big shocker is that (as far as I know) this track has clean vocals! Otherwise, songs like "Pikemaster", "Deadfall", and "Seventh Swamphony" will blow you away with their crushing riffs and beautiful melodies.  The more "symphonic" elements introduced in "12 Gauge" are also present in "Seventh Swamphony".

All in all, another great effort by Kalmah.  With every release, Kalmah will always sound like Kalmah, despite adding or removing a few elements in their music. Veli's contributions on keyboard are fantastic and add an interesting new dimension to Kalmah's music.  I really don't know how I feel about the clean vocals on "Hollo", but everything else is solid and catchy. With 7 albums and still going strong, Kalmah have proven why they are considered among the best in the genre.

Kareem C's favorite tracks:
Black Marten's Trace, Pikemaster, Wolves on the Throne

Watch Kalmah's video for "Seventh Swamphony" below:

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