The first impression that hits you when Kalmah lets it rip is how closely they resemble Children of Bodom. The thrashing tempos, ample layers of symphonic elegance, and raw growls is familiar territory for anyone with even just a passing interest in Finnish metal. But for Kalmah's sake, they've been around since the beginning of the decade, so it would be rude to dismiss them as mere clones. The sextet also made quite a splash two years ago on their acclaimed For The Revolution. Too bad this writer missed that seminal release. But lucky for him, the band present us their latest batch of fresh material called 12 Gauge. Pray tell, how does it sound?
Headache inducing, that's how. Opener Rust Never Sleeps gets started the gentle way, all tender notes and a subtle build up to inspire anticipation. When the riot begins once singer-guitarist Pekka Kokko crunches the riffs his band are soon in full swing. You start to think they've got a good thing going until it dawns on you how confused and scatterbrained the ensuing songs are. Exactly. Confusing and scatterbrained. The hooks don't work, the riffs are awful generic, and the band's numerous shred indulges—indulgences that would put Megadeth circa Rust In peace to shame—prove tiresome stretches of masturbation despite lead guitarist Antti Kokko's finesse. It's disappointing to hear Kalmah in such bad shape and comparisons to Children of Bodom are once again inevitable. Bodom plain sucked on their last two albums. Kalmah seem to be after the same goal if they manage an even crappier follow up for this 12 Gauge.
However, owing to the band's panache and ambition, 12 Gauge isn't a total failure. In fact, decent tunes abound, foremost among which is the thrash tinged Swampwar, the circle pit anthem Hook The Monster, and the goose bumps inducing Sacramentum that comes right before a particularly rough cover of Thin Lizzy's Cold Sweat. As for the rest—let's leave it at Y-A-W-N. Copious amounts of gang style backing vocals, keyboard excess from Marco Sneck (who's a regular Jane Warmen behind the ivories) and the out of control rhythm section (let's not forget the endless guitar solos) are often a confused blur that just doesn't sink in. Too bad for Kalmah, talented bunch that they are. This album comes a little recommended.
The first impression that hits you when Kalmah lets it rip is how closely they resemble Children of Bodom. Too bad for Kalmah, talented bunch that they are. This album comes a little recommended.