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Kalmah - Palo

Label: Spinefarm
Format: Download
Released: 2018
Reviewed By: Jack Mangan
Rating: 8/10

The deeper I waded into Kalmah’s 2018 “Palo” album - - their 8th - - the more I appreciated it on its own terms, and the more I got past its flaws. In fact, I think the album progressively improves as your men row further out into the waters. Kinda In Flames meets Kreator meets Suidakra meets Amon Amarth meets Graveworm, Kalmah consistently deliver top-quality Melodic Death and European Power Metal riffs, behind guitarist-vocalist Pekka Kokko’s never-clean variations on Death Metal growls. His voice sometimes sounds like Ventor of Kreator, sometimes like the roar of latter-day Chuck Billy (of Testament. You knew that.)


They make the bold move of launching the album with their most aggressive, heaviest, most anti-melodic stretches in the verses of “Blood Ran Cold,” as if they’re trying to weed out the faint of heart, leaving only the hardest to continue on. Possibly the most accessible song would be “Take Me Away,” which you can almost - - almost - - sing along to. My favorite would have to be “Waiting in the Wings,” with its all-oars-in-the-water tempo. At track 7, this begins a fantastic 4-song closing stretch, from “Through the Shallow Waters” to “Erase and Diverge,” to the excellent finale: “The Stalker,” which itself - - like the album - - starts off OK, but finishes with a strong second half.
The vocals are bit much for long unbroken listens, and some of the stuff early on is just OK. I was among those who I said might want to check out during track 1, but I’m glad I didn’t. If you’re wondering, it was actually the fine instrumental first minute of “The Evil Kin,” at track 2, that kept me going.

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