I have undoubtely a passion for Melodic Death Metal and therefore I tend to overestimate the bands that play this kind of music, I must admit. But every so often there is an album whose value transcends the borders of its specific genre and objectively becomes an interesting work of art, regardless of the type of music it offers. Nonetheless, in the case of the Finnish band Kalmah, I have never devoted too much attention to their music, although they’re around since twenty years. By my fault, I should add.
These five metalheads from Oulu have released this year a solid and powerful album, Palo, which has the merit to merge brilliantly a series of incredible melodies with the frantic rhythms and the complex structures of Death Metal. One of the most impressive elements of their new record is the maturity that the band has achieved in balancing the various components of their sound: the catchiness and intensity of the thrash metal sections, the articulated dynamics of death metal, and of course the folk elements that have always been one of the main characteristics of this group. And it is no coincidence, then, that Palo is probably the first album where Kalmah succeed in going above that threshold of quality which separates good records from exceptional records. Maturity, in this case, derives from the fact that Kalmah have now reached the eightheth album of their discography, and it’s further consolidated by the fact that the line-up is pratically the same since fifteen years ago, except for a change of keyboardist in 2012.
In the evolutionary process that has led the band to consolidate their current sound we recognize an almost constant growth of the role of guitars, which today maintain an absolutely central role in the development of the songs of Palo. Both from the rhythmic and melodic points of view, the two guitars of Pekka and Antti Kokko dominate totally the scene and polarize almost constantly the listener’s attention. All the remaining instruments seem to accompany the game of reinforcements and chasing that the rhythmic and lead guitars like to play across all the songs. The track Take Me Away, in this sense, may be an example of the typical development of the songs of Palo: there is a melody played initially by the solo piano, on which the powerful guitars are inserted within twenty seconds into the track. From that moment on, it is essentially a succession of exciting riffs and guitar solos, with all the other members of the band contributing in the background.
A futher element of interest in this album it’s the fact that Kalmah have tried keep their style fresh, alive and somehow “modern”, both in terms of the overall production and also for the introduction of a few “groovy” sections that dont’s spoil at all the general quality of the work.
In summary, this is definitely a good release from Finland which can be easily appreciated by all lovers of Melodic Death but, more generally, by all fans of epic melodies and heavy sounds.
Palo was released on April 6th, 2018, on Spinefarm Records.