Review Summary: The young, new group have some potential for great things.
Oh, this is nice; this is really nice
. While I could go into a speech about the lows and high of melodic death metal to start this review off--as it is a trend these days to do so--I think I’ll try to keep it fresh and more to the point. You see, Quebec newcomers Kalter are a band packed with potential. Not since the emergence of Be’lakor in 2007 has a quintet in this respective style of music peaked up my interest like this. Sure, they fit into what many consider to be a so-so subgenre, but that’s not the point; it’s the fact that Kalter switch things up in an area of prevalent saturation that makes them sound so refreshing. I guess it just comes down to the fact that this group of young men--boys more like it, actually--play with, and tweak, concepts and ideas that we’ve been listening to now for years.
Don’t be mistaken: Kalter do not fit in with the likes of the now-commercial In Flames or bands like the melodic, lead-driven Insomnium. Instead, the Canadian quintet play a tight, albeit in the process of growing, progressive blend of melodic death metal on Spiritual Angel
--not so different from Woe of Tyrants. Mid-paced technical riffing is the primary piece in constructing the substance for their music, and, along the way, they throw in a few--and emphasis is placed on few
--cleanly-sung vocal sections to aid in the way of melody construction. In fact, Unexpect’s Leilindel even stops by to aid melody-driven track “Time Out Of Mind” with some clean vocals of her own. For the majority of the album, however, singer Marc-Andre Lafreniere's fiece, yet noticeably youthful, growl dominates the playing field. Also, it should be mentioned that playing in the background of the progressive structures is a neo-classical keyboard that helps in tying a few loose ends and in filling in their sonic creations.
Tempo changes come and go with these guys--see the slow build of “Ashes” into power ballad-like soloing, or the acoustic intro of “For The Last Time” that takes a turn to thrill near the end climax of the song--and as is it integral to how well this type of progressive music plays out, Kalter are blessed to make most of the right choices at just the right times. The title track is a first-rate example of this; slow-to-fast sections, symphonic ambiance, a tight vocal performance from Lafreniere, and an overall great job from the rhythm section represent the band’s sound on this song. Throw in the expected instrumental in seventh track "Requiem", and you have the gist of what these guys have to offer on Spiritual Angel
For all the things the band does right on Spiritual Angel
, I can’t help but feel some areas are a bit rushed, or, in contrast, not expanded upon. While the clean vocals worked fairly well on “Darker By Day” and “Time Out Of Mind”, they are hardly used for the remainder of the album; likewise, Plamondon and Lafreniere spend a little too much time on their guitars switching ahead to different riffs or tempos before developing a really good idea. It really boils down to the fact that some of the songs would have been better tweaked in this regard, whether made shorter or longer, in the long run. Those two areas aside, Canada’s Kalter seem primed and ready to take on the metal world. Given that they are so young--most members are probably in their early twenties--they have plenty of time to grow and make their magnum opus.