Kalmah
12 Gauge


4.0
excellent

Review

by Kyle Ward STAFF
February 27th, 2010 | 200 replies | 30,768 views


Release Date: 2010 | Tracklist

Review Summary: A fine return to form

Kalmah’s brand of melodic death metal has, generally speaking, remained the same since 2006’s The Black Waltz, when the band shifted from the high-pitched vocals and keyboards of their self-branded “Swamp Metal” of their earlier albums on to a more straight-forward growled approach which showed hints of thrash metal, but carried an overall slower pace. While on 2010’s 12 Gauge, the band keeps the new, lower-pitched vocal arrangements and less reliance on keyboards, the frantic pacing of their older albums Swamplord and They Will Return are back in fine form, creating an uplifting atmosphere which will undoubtedly have you kicking in tables and smashing walls. It is a comfortable middle-ground in which fans of both their older and newer style can find something to keep them entertained, and marks a final honing-in on the sound the band was striving for when they first changed their style.

The riffs fly around 12 Gauge like, well, bullets. Indeed, the guitar work of Pekka and Antti Kokko is at its absolute best, and not since the absolutely astounding solos of the title-track “They Will Return” have Kalmah’s guitars been this awesome and this effective at securing an atmosphere and demanding your attention. The solos are blistering (see “Bullets Are Blind” and lightning-fast solo in “Swampwar”), and the melodic riffing is both creative and god-damn catchy. Taking a backseat (but not hiding in the shadows) are the keyboards of Marco Sneck, providing a firm base on which the atmosphere just builds as the guitars weave their way in and out of heavy chords and frantic soloing as the album progresses. Couple that with the solid vocals, which remain in the vein of For The Revolution and The Black Waltz, and you have a level of quality which brings to mind the band's earlier albums. This isn’t to say, however, that the high-pitched black metal-influenced voice of the past is completely thrown out, because often enough they work their way into the background as layering fodder, a nice touch which shows the bridging between old and new.

Even touches such as the wonderful and tasteful acoustic guitar pieces add another dimension to the music which is totally unexpected. The choruses are often backed by chanting, a technique which is really engaging to the listener and helps give the songs a sense of personality, something which is abundant and absolutely thrives throughout the running time of 12 Guage, whether it be the aforementioned chants or the dual-harmonized lead to “Better Not To Tell” and the melodies of “One Of Fail”. The drumming is also noteworthy, delivering fills which definitely don’t go unnoticed and kicking some impressive double bass. The only place in which the album may fall slightly short is the fact that it remains very comfortable, despite its draws from past material which the band has long since left behind. The vocals, the guitars, the atmosphere; it all brings to mind Kalmah, there is nothing which makes me think the band really went out of their way to do anything brand new.

This is easily cast aside, though, because Kalmah have far and away surpassed my expectations. The music within the generically-titled 12 Gauge is completely the opposite: it is immensely enjoyable, has a huge replay value, and gets Kalmah right back on track. After the slightly above-average For The Revolution, Kalmah really pulled out all the stops and delivered a bombshell of an album, one which is most definitely one of the best of their career, and a perfect point from which to move onward. Melodic death metal isn’t completely hopeless, because Kalmah are keeping the genre moving along with a no-bull*** album that simply delivers in every single aspect.



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other reviews of this album
Allhailboobies (3)
...

Darkvoid67 (3.5)
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Comments:Add a Comment 
Crysis
Staff Reviewer
February 27th 2010



16259 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Apologies to Bodom for reviewing this when I knew you were going to, but this album is way too good not to review.

Crysis
Staff Reviewer
February 27th 2010



16259 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I can see why people think that (I can see why people think that of melodic death in general), but this rules pretty hard.

bloozclooz
February 27th 2010



1770 Comments


"Indeed, the guitar work of Pekka and Antti Kokko is at its absolutely best"

is at its absolute best

Crysis
Staff Reviewer
February 27th 2010



16259 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Fixed, thank you.

SCREAM!
February 27th 2010



9973 Comments


Hmm i thought i had lost interest in these guys but this sounds really good. Gonna have to check it out

Also SUPER MEGA nitpick but:

The riffs fly around 12 Gauge like, well, bullets (excuse the bad pun).
This is a simile, not a pun

Edit: My bad, normally it would be a simile but the album name makes it a pun here. Disregard that

Digging: Agalloch - The Serpent and the Sphere

coneren
February 27th 2010



11111 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I forgot this was coming out. I better give it a listen soon

R6Rider
February 27th 2010



4483 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

thought bodominflames was gonna be the first to review this?

oh well. good review. cant wait to hear this

Digging: Rort - Warpath

Crysis
Staff Reviewer
February 27th 2010



16259 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

This is a simile, not a pun

I got rid of that last part because it really didn't belong in the review anyway.

bloozclooz
February 27th 2010



1770 Comments


"Even touches such as the wonderful and tasteful atmospheric intro to the album with the acoustic guitar piece at the beginning of “Rust Never Sleeps” and also the acoustic and electric duo in the title track, add another dimension to the music which is totally unexpected"

there's too many modifiers here. i got lost trying to tell what you were saying here. "even touches such as the atmospheric intro add another dimension to the music". that's really all the sentence was saying, but that way it's easier to understand. even when i read the whole sentence, that's all i really took from it.

sorry if you don't want edits, but i figured i'd help/critique

SCREAM!
February 27th 2010



9973 Comments


You're right. I got rid of that last part though because it really didn't belong in the review anyway
Didnt edit my post quick enough haha

bloozclooz
February 27th 2010



1770 Comments


"This is a simile, not a pun"

if he/she is playing off the use of gauge and bullets, then it's a pun.

Crysis
Staff Reviewer
February 27th 2010



16259 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

sorry if you don't want edits, but i figured i'd help/critique

Oh no, having someone else proofread helps out because sentences like that, to me, make sense, whereas to someone else they may be like wtf was he saying haha

SCREAM!
February 27th 2010



9973 Comments


You also missed the edit

@ blooz

bloozclooz
February 27th 2010



1770 Comments


"just builds and builds as the guitars weave their way in and out of heavy chords and frantic tapping and shredding as the album progresses."

dear lord. i was AND thinking that some AND parts of this review AND has a few too AND many uses of a certain AND word here.

:D

AND

Crysis
Staff Reviewer
February 27th 2010



16259 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

AND AND AND

Scoot
February 27th 2010



17681 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I can't believe how much better it is than their last one. Just as good as They Will Return IMO.

Digging: Unjust - Glow

R6Rider
February 27th 2010



4483 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

hmmmmmmm

bloozclooz
February 27th 2010



1770 Comments


"Couple that with the solid vocals laid down by Pekka, which remain in the vein of For The Revolution and The Black Waltz."

use a strategy i learned two years back from SAT prep. take out the guts of the sentence, you're left with:

couple that with the vocals, which remain in the vein of The Black Waltz...

the sentence doesn't finish. what happens when the "vocals" couple? what next?

Yazz_Flute
February 27th 2010



18764 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

DAMN YOU CRYSIS

but yeah this is really fucking good, might have to up my rating. If this continues to grow on me this could my favorite of theirs.

Bullets Are Blind and One of Fail are ridiculously good.

Digging: Cormorant - Dwellings

R6Rider
February 27th 2010



4483 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

blooz knows his sh*t



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