Kalmah - Swampsong
Century Media
Blackened Melodeath
9 songs (43:47)
Release year: 2003
Kalmah, Century Media
Reviewed by Jay

It seems lately that I have been reviewing many Century Media bands. When the bands are of such high quality, it makes my job easier. This German label has a knack and an ear for fresh talent that can greatly impact the metal scene. Kalmah is no different. With their third album, they keep expanding on their sound and demonstrate that they are not to be trifled with. This album is a further maturation of their sound from They Will Come, an album that was one of my favorites of last year. The concept of combining Swedish style melodic death metal with influences from black metal to symphonic metal is expanding rapidly. Children of Bodom led the way and newcomers Skyfire and Kalmah are taking it to strange new places.

Heroes to Us” starts off with soloing reminiscent of Iron Maiden. The plodding tempo is soon picked up as the sonic assault begins. The riffs are pure metal and the drumming showcases artistic flair as well. This track is one of the slower ones but the melodies created unify all the parts well. The keyboards in the background get slightly annoying at parts when the high-pitched chords are held for a long period of time. The scratching noises at the end of the track are cacophonous and I don’t know why they were included. “Cloned Insanity” is another one of the more melodic tracks on this album. This song has great drum fills that compliment the rhythm guitar quite well. Kalmah tends to lay the melody on thicker on this album than They Will Return. Kalmah also remembers that they, unlike many other bands, have a bass player. They mix the bass so it is audible, unlike many other bands of this genre. The bass solo during “Cloned Insanity” is not super technical but serves as a good bridging element into the keyboard and guitar solos. The black metal influences have been toned down a notch but are still audible. “Bird of Ill Omen” is definitely a blackened song. Dimmu Borgir fans will appreciate this one. The tempo changes going from slow and plodding, to fast and frenetic. The quick riffing combined with gunshot snares build a great track from the ground up. The double bass is mixed perfectly as well, not being too overbearing or completely lacking.

A little experimentation is the closing song “Moon of my Nights.” Taking a page from the Moonspell playbook, pan flutes, thick keyboards and what can be called sung vocals are present. While I am a fan of black screams, when singing is attempted, it would much prefer the clean vocals. This is the critical problem with this song. Clean vocals would have really improved the overall dimensions of the vocal performance. It is a tad on the long side too. The last 90 seconds are repetitive and could have been significantly shortened. “Tordah” has an opening riff similar to some Youthanasia era Megadeth. Kalmah are fans and the influence obviously rubbed off. This is one of the more straight up melodeath songs on the album, forgoing a main keyboard line in favor of dueling guitars. The Finnish style soaring keys are present in the backgrounds as always. The breakdown section on keys helps set up the solo and it is used effectively. The soloing on this album is exactly what metal soloing should be and I was very pleased with it.

The Third, The Magical” sounds very Cradle of Filth influenced. A gothic keyboard intro to a down tempo melody feast created my favorite song on the album. The verse parts are pretty standard but the choruses are terrific. The guitars take a backseat to the keyboards in terms of playing the primary melody. The drone of a Viking chorus is just what the doctor ordered. This Bathory influence does not go unnoticed and was much appreciated. As was the keyboard solo in the tradition of the Finnish greats. “Doubtful About it All” has some power behind. It is again standard for Kalmah but the soloing during the verses is of note. This one could have used more variation because it seems to go in circles.

Kalmah is definitely riding the wave of something big. Along with many other talented Finnish and Swedish bands, the blackened melodeath genre is taking off. Children of Bodom did create a monster but Kalmah distinguishes themselves well. While Skyfire took a more progressive approach with their newest album, Kalmah digs deep into their reservoir of influences to produce something refreshing.

Killing Songs :
Cloned Insanity, Bird of Ill Omen and The Third, The Magical
Jay quoted 88 / 100
Jeff quoted 86 / 100
Other albums by Kalmah that we have reviewed:
Kalmah - Seventh Swamphony reviewed by Jared and quoted 95 / 100
Kalmah - 12 Gauge reviewed by Jared and quoted 88 / 100
Kalmah - For The Revolution reviewed by James and quoted 83 / 100
Kalmah - The Black Waltz reviewed by Jason and quoted 89 / 100
Kalmah - They Will Return reviewed by Danny and quoted 70 / 100
To see all 7 reviews click here
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