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What can we do to stop the fire? - 70%

Diamhea, June 23rd, 2008

For the Revolution stands out from the rest of Kalmah's catalogue for a number of reasons. This has to be the most melodic of all of the band's albums. There is a stronger emphasis on epic note progressions and keyboards, forcing Sneck to adapt and deliver his most memorable performance making up for the lackluster synth outing on The Black Waltz. The overall atmosphere and thinner production hails back to the group's earlier albums such as Swamplord, making For the Revolution an attempt at a "best of both worlds" approach.

Personally, I look at Kalmah's career as two separate entities. Pasi Hiltula's departure in 2004 signified a major shift in the band's sound and triggered the birth of the second chapter. Considering the consistent quality of Kalmah's output, For the Revolution definitely makes its home on one of the lower rungs of the stepladder of quality. The production throws a number of red flags almost immediately, featuring a trebly, faceless guitar sound and plastic drums. The keyboards are almost universally upfront, generally serving as the nucleus that the melodies revolve around until the requisite solo section arrives. Whether or not that approach maintains interest for the entire song depends on which track you are listening to. There are definitely some real winners here, and when For the Revolution gets cooking, it really is a force to be reckoned with. "Holy Symphony of War" and "Towards the Sky" both lead the charge, featuring a near-endless progression of epic, driving melodies that maintain a nice balance with the guitars and raspy vocals.

Conversely, the final third of For the Revolution fails to inspire fully. Only "Like a Slave" can go head-to-head with the aforementioned material. The remaining tracks, save for maybe "Wings of Blackening" all follow a pretty familiar formula, usually turning heads initially with triumphant melodies and keyboard lines. Once into the heart of many of these songs, however, they begin to lose their grip around the listener's throat due to the void left by the lackluster guitars. The solos are played with zeal but the thin, squealy lead tone doesn't do the brothers Kokko many favors in that regard. Pekka's shift to his older, raspier vocal style is an interesting one, but I feel that the guttural roars are more appropriate and are performed better on his part.

Sneck, while still inferior to Hiltula, manages to summon a potent atmosphere at times, despite the mix leaving the keyboards sounding exceedingly thin. I am, however, not a big fan of his soloing style. His solo lead sounds tacky as he runs predictable scales and fails to deliver anything close to the quality of the solo on, for example, "To the Gallows". Kusmin is a pretty good drummer, with some short controlled blasting and thrash patterns making up the majority of the backbone of the rhythm section. It is a shame his kit got so butchered during the mixing process. The bass drum is just a dry, dull thump that clashes sonically with the already weak guitars. It really does a lot more damage than it should, and For the Revolution suffers mightily for it.

Nearly all of the faults present here were rectified by the time 12 Gauge came around, so I have to give the band credit for taking the criticisms to heart. This is definitely an album that can't live up to it's potential due to tertiary factors (the mix, in this case) dragging it down. Check out the aforementioned killer tracks; isolated, they are still well worth your time. As a whole experience, however, For the Revolution is a disappointment.

(Revised/Updated 1/10/14)