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Review: Kalmah - Palo

Label: SpineFarm Records
Year released: 2018
Duration: 46:05
Tracks: 10
Genre: Melodic Death Metal


Review online: April 13, 2018
Reviewed by: Bruno Medeiros
Readers' Rating
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Rated 4.32/5 (86.32%) (19 Votes)

With great hooks and well-constructed leads, the Kokko brothers show inspiration right from the start of Kalmah's eight journey into the swamps, Palo, with "Blood Ran Cold", a cool, yet simplistic, opener. The songwriting feels lucid and the performances run hot, all while paving the way to the better parts of the album. "The Evil Kin" follows a heavier path, which could be traced to the likes of Amon Amarth in attitude and Pekka Kokko's vocal lines.

The symphonic keyboards and the powerful kitchen provide great background support throughout the album, even when the production and mixing sound a little over-encumbering and crowd the instruments, which doesn't happen often, but can clearly be spotted on "The World of Rage", for instance. Its fast-paced approach and strident guitars end up being too much to bear, but the final result is still satisfactory.

The evilness and that blackened style are back in Kalmah's modus operandi since Seventh Swamphony (2013), but are definitely more prominent here. The visceral drumming technique seen on "Into the Black Marsh" is commonly heard on black metal albums, and the song's entire aesthetic takes you back to the Swampsong/They Will Return era. For purists like me this is a delicious banquet, as the band makes a statement that they've never lost their roots.

"Erase and Diverge" and "The Stalker" close the album in a worthy manner, by following in the same footsteps of the heavier and darker songs of the record. Both are yet another statement that Kalmah has yet to abandon traditional and crafty riffing, thrashier moments and more extreme sounds pertinent to death and black, which is a great thing if you ask me.

Palo continues where Seventh Swamphony left off with plenty of energy and kickass moments; the fact that the visceral elements seem to be back for good are yet another thing to praise, as it's where Kalmah strives. By sounding so much like everyone and no one at the same time, the band is far past consolidating their unique identity and so is free to play with their songwriting as they please, making the experience of listening to the record a fun one. It's not, of course, their best moment (I give that prize to their first two albums), but it is most definitely an album worthy of attention. Cheers to the fishermen!

More about Kalmah...
Review: 12 Gauge (reviewed by Christopher Foley)
Review: 12 Gauge (reviewed by Lior "Steinmetal" Stein)
Review: For the Revolution (reviewed by Christopher Foley)
Review: Kalmah (reviewed by Luxi Lahtinen)
Review: Seventh Swamphony (reviewed by Sargon the Terrible)
Review: Swamplord (reviewed by Christian Renner)
Review: Swampsong (reviewed by Christian Renner)
Interview with guitarist Antti Kokko on November 3, 2001 (Interviewed by Christian Renner)
Interview with vocalist/guitarist Pekka Kokko and guitarist Antti Kokko on September 7, 2021 (Interviewed by Luxi Lahtinen)
Interview with guitarist Antti Kokko on April 9, 2023 (Interviewed by Luxi Lahtinen)
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