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Kalmah - For the revolution - 80%

Radagast, April 26th, 2008

The comparison is practically inevitable of course, but for the purpose of this review is necessary; while people will deny it until they are blue in the face, the fact remains that Children of Bodom started something in the late 90s. As much as people will defend bands like Skyfire, Norther and of course Kalmah as being more than Bodom copycats, it cannot be denied that the early 2000s saw a suspicious amount of young Finnish bands playing the previously unheard combination of power and melodic death metal with black-ish vocal shrieks and keyboard acrobatics.

The important part is how they all reacted to their own relative success, how they grew and developed in comparison to one another and of course the band they drew their inspiration from. On one hand there is Norther, seeming intent on following Bodom to the bank with their increasingly melodic and simplistic style, while Kalmah have stuck to their original sound and been content to develop it in their own directions.

2006's 'The black waltz' marked a particular shift for the band towards an identity of their own. Pekka Kokko for the most part ditched his high-pitched shriek in favour of a guttural death metal roar that, while a little more monotone, added a new flavour to the band usually not heard in their particular niche. The music also shifted more away from the constant high speed of the early CDs to incorporate more gloomy midtempo moments. A drop in pace in this subgenre is often the sign of a band losing their inspiration, but the Kokko brothers managed that rarity that is engaging mid-paced melodeath with considerable aplomb.

'For the revolution' is less of a leap into new territory than its predecessor, but rather exhibits a good combination of the styles Kalmah have played to date. The newer elements from 'The black waltz' are meshed with more overtly Bodom-like early career moments on a nippy little 43-minute CD that is pure enjoyment from top to bottom.

The high-pitched vocals have more of a role to play this time, and are split more evenly with the growls, which makes for a more varied vocal performance. Keyboard player Marco Sneck enjoys a more prominent role on his 2nd CD with the band, with his role adjusting to suit the individual song instead of just hanging around in the background or having uninspired segments needlessly spread across the songs. "Dead man's shadow" sees him perform thrilling symphonic, almost folky, accompaniments to the guitar parts while at other times he makes the occasion dash to center stage for some shredding solos. However the star of the show is, as always, lead guitarist Antti Kokko, who plays his usual scintillating solos and near-constant lead parts with the expected precision and variety.

Enticing power metal tracks like "Towards the sky" mix well with more melancholy numbers like the mid-CD ballad "Ready for salvation", and while it is less of a bold step than the preceding CD, Kalmah have produced yet another fine example of melodic death/power metal, and continue to prove that the genre still has room for development and creativity.

A musical analogy I have always been fond of is Devin Townsend's assessment of his 'Physicist' CD as a step to the side rather than forwards – a combination, and thus summation, of the varied styles of his career to date. Kalmah have of course had a less varied output over the years, but the sentiment certainly rings true when listening to 'For the revolution'. The CD's short running time only leaves the listener hungry for their next release, and there is no surer sign of success than that.

(Originally written for