Kalmah - The Black Waltz
Spikefarm Records
Melodic Death Metal
11 songs ()
Release year: 2006
Kalmah, Spikefarm Records
Reviewed by Jason

Its fairly amazing how just a few years ago following the release of Children of Bodom’s Hatebreeder how many bands began writing music bearing that signature melodic Bodom sound (or were accused of doing it), and how just a few years later, most of them have branched off rather drastically leaving much of their old sound behind. Bodom have traded in their blackened melodic style for a badass image and straightforward face pounding music, Norther has jumped into the fairly similar bad-boy bandwagon, and Kalmah have also progressed but not in the same vein as the aforementioned bands. While Children of Bodom and Norther have admittedly left behind much of the Neo-Classical elements of their music, Kalmah are back after three years with an album which has expanded on the melodious aspects of their music, transforming their sound into one which has become very intense and much more grandiose when compared to older releases. I’ve been eagerly waiting three years for this album to hit the streets and though it hasn’t absolutely blown my mind away like I hoped it would, it has left me very happy nonetheless because Kalmah have done what I wished Children of Bodom and Norther should have done, and that is to explore and stretch the limits of the melody and technicality that made them popular in the first place, rather than the reverse.

Although I heard some sound samples of The Black Waltz on the band’s website a few months ago that left me quite satisfied, I was still a little skeptical whether or not this album was going to be a hit or a miss. Sounds samples can be a tricky thing since its only normal for bands to share with fans the highlight moments of their music to influence them go out and buy their CD; problem is, sometimes it doesn’t get any better than those sound samples. I’m quite relieved to say that The Black Waltz lives up to sound samples I heard, and delivers a solid 45 minutes of melodious intensity that manages to keep a trademark sound intact while still branching off enough that earns people the right to say that Kalmah have change quite a bit. The major changes that have taken place in Kalmah’s music are the vocals, drums, sound density, and intensity. Most will ask if the singer of the band has been replaced, as I assumed at first, but it actually turns out that he has traded in his raspy and blackened vocal style for a rougher and more guttural one in the same vein as Dark Tranquillity. I really became accustomed to, and rather enjoyed, the vocal style on older albums such as Swamplord and Swampsong so the singing was the hardest thing for me to digest at first on this new release. After numerous spins though, I came to enjoy these vocals and came to the realization that they compliment the intense nature of this album better than raspy vocals would. The music this time around is much heavier, denser and layered thanks to the furious drumming which is MUCH more technical and prominent than it ever was, and by the heavy synths which accentuate the intense aspect of the music rather than just acting as a melodious background. The best example of an intense track on The Black Waltz, which is also my favorite, is the one titled Time Takes us All, which starts off with a machine-gun drum roll, keyboards that sound like they’ve been stolen from a dramatic action movie sequence, and a drawn-out vicious scream. The track continues as a veritable headbanger, but roughly 2 minutes through listeners are treated to one of the most badass sequence of riffs I’ve ever heard and that would definitely get any Metal fan’s head moving. For the most part, The Black Waltz is an album filled with intensity, blast beats, melodious guitars and keyboards with equally melodious solos and enough variation to keep most people happy.

Though this is undoubtedly one of my top albums of 2006, there are a few aspects which are worthy criticism and makes this album fall short of a 90+ quote. One thing I feel like I have to mention but doesn’t affect my opinion of the band or their music is their the new album cover, which displays some kind old man or gnomish figure that reminds me of the cheesy character present Rhapsody album booklets and music videos. I feel like the old artwork rather accurately depicted the type of music Kalmah play, while this one is… well, kind of weird and ugly. Musically, this album ifalls just short of being make it audibly orgasmic. For one thing, I think that though each song has many transitions and melody shifts, there are some things that get a little repetitive in the music such as the frequent use of blast beats or some rather simple background melodies such as the one in Groan of The Wind. Also, though I mentioned the heavier vocals compliment the intense sound of the album, they would sound better if they were a little clearer because actually making out what the singer is saying is quite difficult. Don’t get me wrong, I do enjoy these new vocals but there is definitely room for a little improvement.

I have to say that the three year wait for this new album was not the least bit disappointing. Kalmah are back with an album that definitely rocks the socks the majority of bands that play metal in same vein, and receive extra hails from me because I appreciate the fact that they decided to pursue expanding the melodic sound of their music and injecting it with a new level of intensity instead of taking steps backwards by simplifying their music for the sake having a harder sound. This is one album that old Kalmah fans should definitely pick up, and one that fans of this type of Metal should check out.

Killing Songs :
Defeat, Bitter Metallic Side, Time Takes Us All, Man Of The King, One From The Stands
Jason quoted 89 / 100
Other albums by Kalmah that we have reviewed:
Kalmah - Seventh Swamphony reviewed by Jared and quoted 95 / 100
Kalmah - 12 Gauge reviewed by Jared and quoted 88 / 100
Kalmah - For The Revolution reviewed by James and quoted 83 / 100
Kalmah - Swampsong reviewed by Jay and quoted 88 / 100
Kalmah - They Will Return reviewed by Danny and quoted 70 / 100
To see all 7 reviews click here
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