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Rude neologisms and virulent moulds - 75%

Napero, May 25th, 2019
Written based on this version: 2019, CD, Independent (Digipak)

"Kalmo" is funny word in the Finnish language: it has a very old-fashioned sound to it, but it was actually suggested by the national language office in 1948 after a weird public discussion on the word "ruumis". You see, that one can mean both a living body and a deceased one... and doctors really didn't like that at the time. And since the language completely lacked a word for a dead cadaver... which cold be seen as an interesting and illuminating tidbit on the mind of the Finnish people, too... someone decided to fill the gap by twisting and mauling the word "kalma", a real old-fashioned word for death, which nowadays is usually called "kuolema". The result was "kalmo", which has a very nice, pale and cold taste in a native speaker's mouth when said aloud. Someone did a good job, in other words, and came up with a very convincing neologism.

The Kalmo discussed here is a one-man band playing doom metal. The artist, simply known as Mika, has a rather straightforward vision of his music: the whole Demoni EP is almost as void of melody as it gets. The guitars churn and growl on top of a sluggishly creeping drum background, the ever-present and overpowering bass fills every void left by other instruments, and the viscous barely flowing whole has an icing of deadly serious grumbling one-note vocals on it. The chosen lyrical language is Finnish, which is a nice feature considering that the vocal style is clear enough to discern the lyrics, and gives the EP a very delicious local twist. And yes, the tales are just as happy and joyous as the rest of the music; the listener is invited to follow the speaker to the grave, but tomorrow, not quite yet...

With the hollow echoes, dirty reverb, feedback, and an overall primitive feel, the only well-known album that the EP brings to mind is Monotheist. Which is weird, because, style-wise, Demoni is a rather different beast. It has an air of a one-man band around it, and the first impression it makes is not necessarily a positive one. But a few repeated spins make it grow on the listener, and it takes a hold on the mind, gradually growing and invading like a tomb mould. Eventually, it is catchy, despite its virtually complete lack of melodies and things to grab a hold on. And the longer it plays, the more it keeps sticking on the brain, growing its rusty filaments in the mind and refusing to leave.

On a superficial level, Demoni is rude, simplistic and even uninteresting, as most one-man metal bands tend to be. But there is something wicked in the way it enthralls the mind and invites you back for more. And yes, that is the characteristic it shares with Monotheist: it doesn't have any identifiable special things or hooks to make it remarkable in any traditional sense, nor does it seem extreme at first. But as a whole it turns out to be a freakish but working contraption built of ugly and crude parts, however, and while it seems like a lumbering golem of bones and rotting flesh, it works like a charm once it reveals its workings to anyone it manages to lure to return to it. There is something infective in the way the parts of the unholy machine work.

Demoni has all the makings of an epic scale opinion splitter, but it seems quite likely that there is a sizable fraction of metalheads with tendencies to love and appreciate crawling sluggishness, extreme doomy atmospheres, and uncaring rudeness. Kalmo is there for that strange attraction, and might find love in the deep silent ranks of the metal scene. It is definitely interesting... and virulently infectious.