Kalmah – Kalmah

If you had to name a few things Finland is known for you’d probably go for metal, snow and alcoholism. But did you know Finland actually an absolute fuckton of swamps? And that’s what we’re talking about today as Kalmah likes to say they play swamp metal and they have a new swampy album out, after five years since the release of “Palo,” titled simply “Kalmah.”

So what’s coming out of the swamp this time? The albums opens with one of the singles, “Haunted by Guilt,” and right away this sure is a Kalmah album. We’ll get into whether that’s good or bad shortly, but for now I’ll say the riffing that opens this up is pretty exciting and on the fun side of melodeath, which is one of the reasons the Finns are one of the overall best accepted melodeath bands that the majority seems to enjoy.

The album gets more surprising with the fourth track, “No Words Sad Enough,” which is opened by strings (!) and then continues into this heavy sadness that feels as if a deep marshy swamp is not letting your legs go as you wade through it. The deep growls of Pekka Kokko manage to hit some emotional depth in this piece and it vaguely reminds me of October Tide – not so much in its sound, but definitely in its overall sad vibe.  

Serve the Untrue” adds a slight folky touch to the album and it’s overall a pretty fun song, but now we get back to this really being a Kalmah album. What that means is there’s really very little new here with this release – and while some bands can get away with making the same album every time, I’m not sure Kalmah is one of them nor do I think this is their best work. On the other hand, for the staunch Kalmah fans, this release should work pretty well. But should pleasing their least critical fans be enough of a achievement for such an established band?

Hello, boys, what’s up in there?
Here is rust like everywhere

The opening lines to “Tons of Chaos” above sure seem like an attempt at trolling and I can’t take them seriously. It makes me wonder how the band hasn’t come up with something half-decent lyrically in the five years since “Palo.” Still, if you’ve not been blessed with the gift of literacy, the song is, again, more classic enjoyable Finnish swampy melodeath.

With “Red and Black” the Finns do pick up the quality of the album again a bit more, as the song features a story of war and a nice detail is added with some gunfire being added into the mix. “Taken Before Given” and especially “Drifting in a Dream” close out this album and they’re actually one of the best pieces on the record, which leads me to think maybe five years wasn’t quite enough of a break as this albums has its good moments, but it also has parts that feel rushed and quite poor.

Kalmah” is a rather confusing album. It’s quite uneventful, yet its overall quality isn’t high enough for that to really be a good thing. Once you look into it further, there’s a fair amount of poor, perhaps even lazy, choices that have been made in the creation of the record. However, there’s also still a good amount of, at least, decent melodeath material, which should be enough to please most fans of the genre. 

Rating: 7/10
Label: Ranka Kustannus
Release date: 26 May 2023 

Written by: Didrik

1. Haunted by Guilt
2. Veil of Sin
3. Scarred by Sadness
4. No Words Sad Enough
5. Serve the Untrue
6. Home Sweet Hell
7. Tons of Chaos
8. Red and Black
9. Taken Before Given
10. Drifting in Dream


Didrik is lead content editor at Metal Exposure in addition to being a writer and contributor, and has been in music journalism since 2019. His main metal loves are prog, melodeath, and folk, particularly anything with Arabic rhythms. He's slightly obsessed with knowing lots of random trivia facts, and avidly follows many sports. He lives in Slovenia with his giant dog Thor.

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