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Although Kalmah has been criticized as being another "Children of Bodom" copycat band from Finland, anyone who actually had the time to listen to this album several times should know that this is quite the opposite. When you first pop this CD into your player, the listener is introduced to an intense drum line that showcases one of the several aspects of how Kalmah that separates themselves from the others: the complex drumming. The drumming never gets repetitive, and actually helps contribute "feeling" to the music alongside the guitars and keyboards. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a single moment of this album where the drumming repeats a mundane and basic 4/4 double bass beat for more than a minute.
Typical of many melodic death metal bands, this album is chock full of lovely dual-guitar leads. But If you're a fan of dual-guitar harmonies (and who isn't?), this album still manages to stand out from the rest. The guitar melodies aren't exactly as predictable as other melodic death metal bands, yet Kalmah still remains to be extremely catchy without being overly repetitive.
The guitar solos are abundant; you’ll find at least one on every song. But the special thing about Kalmah’s guitar solos is that they help contribute feeling/emotion to the songs. Thankfully you won’t find any random sweep-picking and tapping solos during any of the songs, which, in my opinion, do nothing musically except showcase the guitar player's ability. And rather than trying to “show off” and keep up with the guitars by inserting crazy keyboard solos here and there, Kalmah's keyboards act as an emotional and atmospheric layer, something that is hard to find in good melodeath these days. I would say that the vocal style is influenced more by medium-pitched black metal screams than death metal grunting.
This album is not perfect. However, the positives severely outnumber the negatives in my opinion. One criticism I would like to make is the similarity between some of the songs. To be specific, the rhythm guitar’s chord progression on ‘Withering Away’ is almost identical to the chord progression in ‘Hades’. It feels as if Hades/Withering Away was once one song, and Kalmah decided to split it up.
With the negatives aside, this album marks a special place in my play list and is a must-have for any metal-fan, regardless of their preferred sub genre.
For those people who already own the original pressing of this album, the newest re-release of this album is completely untouched, with an exception to the two bonus tracks taken from their 1999 Promo ‘Svieri Obraza’ added to the end. While the first bonus track may sound familiar to those who own a copy of ‘They Will Return’, but the second bonus track, ‘Vezi Doroga’, is well worth re-buying the album.