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Kalmah - 12 Gauge

Published April 14 2010

=Staff's pick

Rust Never Sleeps
One Of Fail
Bullets Are Blind
Better Not To Tell
Hook The Monster
12 Gauge*

Genre Powered Death Metal
Pekka Kokko
Tracks 9
Pekka Kokko
Runningtime 43 Min.
Antti Kokko
Label Spinefarm Records
Timo Lehtinen
Release 03 March 2010
Janne Kusmin
Country Finland
Marco Sneck
Similar artists Children Of Bodom, Eternal Tears Of Sorrow, Norther

After a logo change and two mediocre records, I did not have high expectations for Kalmah's latest full-length output, the trendy title further reinforcing the inherent doubts that had already been sown. After all, the "powered death metal" sound has become one of the latest fads in the metal scene, undoubtedly fueled at least in part by the popularity of countrymen Children of Bodom.

Despite this, I have always been a sucker for melodic death metal and any of its permutations, and originally found Kalmah's excellent first three albums to be the logical heirs to the throne Bodom left after Follow the Reaper, finding it in me to give 12 Gauge some serious consideration on virtue of that alone. In what seems to be a trend with some of my recent views, I was pleasantly surprised. Whether this is an indication of the overall quality and movement of metal is yet to be seen, however.

12 Gauge goes back to a more riff-based, less gimmick-oriented approach akin to those first three albums I mentioned earlier. The strength of Kalmah on this record, and all of their other great compositions for that matter, is their use of melody. The leads here are completely infectious when backed by the chunky riffing and up-tempo drum patterns. That being said, however, the band does find themselves falling prey to what a lot of bands in the genre have been: mis/overuse of keyboards. I don't mind some tasteful, dueling melodic keyboards, but using them as consistent atmosphere in the form of held-out chords becomes cliché and really takes away any edge that might have be building.

Aside from that, this release is everything you could expect from a well-executed Kalmah record. Hell, calling the album Swampwar after one of its tracks would not have been out of place, making it fit right in thematically with its predecessors of the "swamp" variety. The only minor difference sonically is that the vocals now skirt closer to a deeper, more Amon Amarth-esque delivery rather than the black metal leanings of past offerings. This is definitely a step back on the right path.

See also review of: For The Revolution , The Black Waltz








8 chalices of 10 - Dux

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