Even though I have been a member of musicianforums before the creation of sputnik music reviews, I have yet to write a review. That all changed when I saw that one of my favorite albums was not reviewed yet. I hope this is satisfactory and any recommendations for future reviews would be much appreciated.
Pekka Kokko –Vocals / Rhythm Guitar
Antti Kokko – Lead Guitar
Janne Kusmin – Drums
Timo Lehtinen – Bass
Marco Sneck - Keyboards
Kalmah – Swampsong
Heroes to Us: This song starts with one of my favorite riffs of all time. After listening to this song only once, the guitar intro was forever engraved in my brain. Once the intro is over, the song is set into over drive. The vocals on this album are great (I prefer the vocals on “The Black Waltz”, but they are still superb.) and that point is driven home by the vocals on this song. While the chorus is relatively simple (chants of “heros to us”), it is catchy and powerful. At 3:00, the guitars switch to a more melodic role. This is just a build up to a solo that begins at 3:19. The solo isn’t the greatest, but I think it fits this song well and is fun to listen to. The song end on a very powerful note and will leave you wanting more. You may want to hit the skip button to listen to it again. I don’t recommend this yet because this album is full of other gems that are just as good, if not better.
(5 / 5)
Burbots Revenge: “Burbots Revenge” wastes no time getting started. A simple, yet cool drum fill starts things off and is immediately followed by a decent guitar riff. It’s good, but not of the same caliber as “Heroes to Us”. At 0:31 the vocals kick in. The vocals are fine, but I don’t enjoy them as much as other songs on the album. There are solos from both the guitar and piano in this song; however, I don’t feel they are given enough time. The solos are a little on the short side, but they still manage to kick ass. “Burbots Revenge” is one of those songs that remain in your face through out its duration. It never gets old and it never fails entertain.
(4 / 5)
Cloned Insanity: Immediately after “Burbots Revenge” ends, “Cloned Insanity” begins. This song has a powerful intro that portrays the greatness that is “Cloned Insanity” and Swampsong . The guitars slow down a bit around 0:40, but don’t fret, the song gets even faster when the vocals kick in. This is my favorite vocal performance on the album and it is chock full of great guitar riffs and leads. At 2:21 the only instruments playing are the bass and drums. This unfortunately is the only time the bass is really audible on the record. They are quickly joined by a mini guitar and piano duel. Then possibly the best solo on the record is thrown at you. It’s short, but effective and what makes it great is that it immediately goes into very cool harmony afterwards before picking up again. “Cloned Insanity” ends just as it began and that is proving that Kalmah are a force to be reckoned with.
(5 / 5)
The Third, The Magical: The Third, The Magical opens with the soothing sound of the keyboards. This changes though when the rest of the band joins in. When the rest of the band is going full charge ahead, the keyboards are playing a harmony that gives the song another dimension. It really adds to the vibe in a positive way. During the vocals, the guitar and keyboards are playing leads. The decision to do this instead of your standard chords gives the song more depth and feeling. Once again, we are treated to an excellent vocal performance. At 2:30, there is a new element thrown into the mix. The element I speak of is an orchestral and symphonic influence. While it doesn’t last long, it can raise the hairs on you neck. This is immediately followed by the keyboards and guitars harmonizing and then a guitar solo. The solo has more soul then it does shred. The same goes for the keyboard solo. The song closes the orchestral and symphonic part that makes this song so unique.
( 4.5 / 5)
Bird of Ill Omen: “Bird of Ill Omen” begins a relatively simple guitar lick. While not as catchy as “Heroes to Us”, it is a decent opener. The vocals are amazing on this track; however I cant the same for the guitar, drums, bass and keyboard. They aren’t bad, but they just seem a tad bland when compared to the other songs on Swampsong . The guitar solo is a tasteful solo, but not one of Antti Kokko’s best works. I personally think the song is good, but lacks something.
Doubtful About It All: I thoroughly enjoy the keyboard and guitar work on this track. The vocals are great also, but not as great as a few other songs. This song is fast paced and can leave you in the dust if you let it. It does allow you some time to catch your breath about half way through the song, but then it goes back to what Kalmah does best; play loud, fast, powerful and brutal metal. The guitar solo mixes all I love about Kokko’s ability. Like most of the solos on the album it is short, but its length doesn’t limit it. I think the shortness is what makes it so powerful. All in all, this is great track.
(4 / 5)
Tordah: The simple rhythmic guitars in the beginning can only mean one thing. As you may have guessed, it can only mean that “Tordah” is a great song. The riff that follows is just as catchy as “Heroes to Us” and “Cloned Insanity”. Trust me on this, it will be stuck in you head for days. And unlike many songs with catchy parts, this is a good thing. The vocals are brutal, dark and fast paced and I enjoy it when you can hear a chant every so often in the backround. The solo begins at a snails pace, but then kicks into overdrive with a absolutely amazing shred fest. The remaining 45 seconds are in your face and is a perfect build up to the next song.
( 5 / 5)
Man With Mystery: The song starts like a bat out of hell (pardon the cliché) and it leaves off where “Tordah” began. The intensity comes to a halt about 2 minutes in and the guitars become very rhythmic and harmony orientated. The guitar solo is another great example that Kokko can compete with the likes of Liahio and Petrucci. “Man With Mystery” has plenty of tempo changes (especially the middle and end) that will leave you guessing at what can possibly come next. As the song slowly fades away, one cannot help but say “wow”.
( 4.5 / 5)
Moon of My Nights: This was the first Kalmah song I listened to and it got me hooked. It truly is a masterpiece. “Moon of My Nights” begins with a simple piano arrangement that gives the song a very dark vibe. When the guitar join in, one cannot help think of the Gothenburg Metal pioneers At the Gates. It is only the piano accompanying the vocals during the verse at first, but when the guitar joins in, this is one powerful song. Everything is perfect about this song. The vocals, guitar, bass, keyboards and drums are all works of art. I feel this song demonstrates the bands talent with its frequent tempo changes and vocal / musical arrangements. As the song slowly fades out, you cannot help but think what a great song to close the album. It truly is an epic master piece.
( 5 / 5)
I believe this is one of those albums that metal fans will call a classic years from now. There isn’t a weak track on the album and it is highly enjoyable to listen to. It’s a great album to get if you are unfamiliar with Kalmah and is great to own if you are a fan of metal. It is very unfortunate and disappointing that Kalmah doesn’t get the recognition they deserve.
- Amazing musicianship
- Songs like Cloned Insanity, Moon of my Nights and Heroes to Us will become instant favorites.
- The length of the album is good. Its long enough to leave you satisfied, but keeps you wanting more. This is a great motivator for digging deeper in the discography.
- Vocals are amazing
- Bass is hard to pick out.
- Guitar and Keyboard solos are a little too short for my taste.
I give the album a 4.5 out of 5.