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Kalmah: Palo (2018)

Written by: Kev Rowland

Ancestor was founded in 1991 by guitarist-vocalist Pekka Kokko and drummer Petri Sankala. After two demos, Pekka’s brother Antti was added to the fold as lead guitarist. Ancestor disbanded after five progressively more melodic demos in 1998, leading to the formation of Kalmah. With a line-up completed by bass player Altti Veteläinen (also Eternal Tears Of Sorrow) and keyboard player Pasi Hiltula the band recorded a promo, ‘Svieri Obraza’, which gained them a deal with Spinefarm Records with whom they are still recording today. The band has been incredibly stable in terms of line-up, with the Kokko brothers still there, Timo Lehtinen (bass) and Janne Kusmin (drums) joining the fold in 2001, and the only change since then being keyboard player Veli-Matti Kananen who made his entrance some six years ago.

They say that familiarity breeds contempt, but when it comes to line-ups it also breeds tightness, and this is definitely the case here. Here we have a band that are bringing together power metal and melodic death, and doing it very well indeed. Often slower than “true” death metal it is incredibly heavy, with wonderfully gruff vocals, and they mix and meld some folk elements in when they want to, especially on opener “Blood Ran Cold”. But, there are also plenty of symphonic and power metal elements going on, so much so that people who wouldn’t normally listen to this genre could well be pleasantly surprised if they give it a try. The keyboards provide a lightness when both guitars are crunching it down, but there are also times when the guitar spin off into some duetting widdly widdly that wouldn’t sound out of place on a Threshold release. One of the delights of this album are the swings, the way the music moves and grooves through different styles, and there is a little flourish at 3:29 of the opener where the guys must crack a smile, even if they are hiding it with lots of hair and heads staring at the floor. The top class production lets the music shine, and 28 years after the debut the mad Finns are showing no sign at all of slowing down. Quite superb.

Rating: 8/10

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Track list:
1. Blood Ran Cold
2. The Evil Kin
3. The World Of Rage
4. Into the Black Marsh
5. Take Me Away
6. Paystreak
7. Waiting in the Wings
8. Through the Shallow Waters
9. Erase and Diverge
10. The Stalker

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Links:
http://www.kalmah.com/
https://www.spinefarmrecords.com/

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